Letters To The Editor


October 13, 2003

Tariffs boosted the renewal of steel industry

The Sun's editorial "Of candles and steel" (Oct. 5) cited Gary Hufbauer's estimate that steel tariffs have cost about 26,000 jobs. Unfortunately, his analysis is flawed because it overlooks certain critical factors in the steel market.

By early 2002, steel prices had fallen to historic lows and were bound to rise by mid-year, even without a tariff, as mill closures in the United States and production cutbacks in Europe were pinching supplies of critical products such as cold-rolled and galvanized sheet steel.

However, the way higher steel prices affected U.S. manufacturers was importantly influenced by changes in the steel prices foreign competitors paid. And since March 2002, when tariffs were imposed, steel prices have risen much more rapidly in Asia and Europe than they have in the United States.

President Bush urged the steel industry to restructure or lose the tariffs, and steel-making assets have been redeployed without the burdens of legacy costs, outdated work rules and excessive management overhead. Today, International Steel Group produces steel at remarkably lower costs than did its predecessor, LTV, and this would not have been possible without the market stability offered by the tariff.

Similar gains are being achieved as Bethlehem Steel is absorbed by International Steel and National Steel by U.S. Steel and through further consolidation in the mini-mill sector.

Consequently, steel prices are now lower for many products in the United States than in many foreign markets, including China, where manufacturers compete directly with U.S. metal fabricators.

Seen in its totality, the Bush administration steel program may actually have saved U.S. manufacturing jobs.

Peter Morici

College Park

The writer is professor of business at the University of Maryland, College Park.

First lady should aid effort to stop violence

The Maryland chapter of the National Organization for Women is particularly distressed over the recent remarks made by Maryland's first lady, Kendel Ehrlich ("Oh, shoot," editorial, Oct. 9).

October is typically designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it is simply outrageous that our governor's wife would be so insensitive to the thousands of Maryland women who are victims of domestic violence, particularly gun violence.

On behalf of the thousands of Maryland women who live in fear of domestic violence, I respectfully request that Mrs. Ehrlich spend less time apologizing to Britney Spears.

Mrs. Ehrlich's energy would be better spent making sure that domestic violence support services are more adequately funded and responsive to the epidemic of domestic violence in Maryland.

Duchy Trachtenberg


The writer is president of the Maryland chapter of NOW.

Glad to see concern for images of women

Thank you, Kendel Ehrlich ("Oh, shoot," editorial, Oct. 9).

She may have not used the correct words, but as a grandparent of an 11-year-old girl, I am so pleased to hear that a young woman is also disturbed by the image presented to young girls today by the entertainment industry.

M. C. Wernecke


Just keep the kids out of the streets

The answer to the speed hump question is very simple ("Negotiating city speed bumps is an increasingly bumpy road," Oct. 7): Keep our children out of the street and let all of the speed hump money be applied to the much-needed repairs of our streets.

Phil Anderson


Distorting history to blame Israel

G. Jefferson Price III asks: "What if Israel ... were to make an extraordinary gesture for peace?" ("A little more evenhandedness might just help," Oct. 5).

But the fact is that at Camp David and Taba in 2000 and 2001, before the most recent campaign of Palestinian-Arab slaughter of Jews and Israelis, Israel offered approximately 97 percent of the disputed West Bank, all of the disputed Gaza Strip and part of its capital, Jerusalem, to the Palestinian Arabs for peace.

That's an "extraordinary gesture" by any reasonable standard. But not to the Palestinian-Arabs. Not to Mr. Price.

The Palestinian-Arab response was to blow up Israelis and Jews on buses, in restaurants, at worship, any place where Israelis congregate.

Mr. Price distorts history to shift responsibility for the slaughter of Israel's children onto Israel.

Michael Carlis


Stop supporting Israeli expansion

While G. Jefferson Price III's arguments against Israel's settlements and the wall it is building within Palestine are compelling, his proposed solution is, unfortunately, inadequate ("A little more evenhandedness might just help," Oct. 5).

The existing settlements are a fundamental source of the conflict. Therefore, it is not enough to reduce direct aid if Israel expands its settlements. This is like telling a thief that he can keep what he has stolen as long as he doesn't steal in the future.

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