Your Mail: Talking Back About the New York Times

I’m not surprised, readers, that you had so much to say about the New York Times.

When effective anti-terror programs are disclosed -- and appear to hang our safety in the balance -- I can see why both sides jump to argument. Below I point out what I see as the value of a free press and also respond to your comments on the estate tax and minimum wage.

George Hiller writes:

The NY Times was wrong, as they were wrong to print the Pentagon papers. We have a very liberal press in this country and never hear about the number of killed terrorists, the number of foiled terrorist plots or success stories in Iraq. Talk to any solder and he or she will agree that the press is not fair and balanced in their reporting.

The ratings at CBS, NBC and ABC will continue to decline. Support the troops and use the NY Times to wrap bird droppings.”

SRE: Thanks George. I think what stories a paper prints and what its republican government allows it to print without treason charges are two distinct issues. The biggest check on our decision-makers is transparency and a free press can help provide that.

Jim Cottrell writes:

The ‘Coulter Culture?’ It seems to me that the New York Times, as much of the drive-by media, adopted the ‘Coulter Culture’ long before Ann Coulter came on the scene. Hence, your question shouldn’t be if the New York Times has to stoop so low, but why have they (and all the others) done so for so long?”

SRE: Great point Jim, thanks!

David Tigwell writes:

Where is it written that any job, no matter how menial, should be guaranteed by statute to ‘support a family of three?’ When did it become so in these United States that everyone, no matter how inexperienced, uneducated, unskilled or ill-prepared for the workforce should expect compensation for any job sufficient to ‘support” another adult and child? Does not the decision to form and raise a family require some modicum of planning and responsibility?

SRE: I would agree that it certainly does. However, we decided as a country when we passed the Fair Labor Standards Act that there should be certain limits on wages as the free market doesn’t always make for equal bargaining power. I think we’d both agree that the living standards put in place with a $5.15 wage in 1997 are quite different today.

Mark Alianello writes:

Your argument for the estate tax demonstrates a lack of understanding of what is fair. Because the tax does not affect you (if that was a good measure of public policy we would be in trouble) or 95 percent of Americans, does not in itself render the tax just. If a tax is not just, it is bad government policy and those impacted by the tax are right to object.

SRE: Sure they are right to object. A lot of you raised hard issues about the tax particularly for small businesses and farm owners. I don’t support the tax because it doesn’t affect me or most Americans, I support it because the wealthiest .5 percent of Americans can generally afford it and because inherited wealth isn’t necessarily something we value.

On the other hand, while many of you had faith in our officials’ national security decisions while they are in office, you weren’t fond of the idea of our government financing elections. I argued that public financing of elections is the only way to keep officials from being bought, and this was met with resistance.

Robert Levine of Sierra Vista, Arizona writes:

The best system is one that places no limits on private financing and candidate spending. This does give the rich an advantage over the non-rich, but rich people are individuals who have competing interests, which insures that there will be political competition and a meaningful choice of candidates.

Like other collectivist schemes for limiting the power of "the rich," so-called campaign finance reform transfers power to the government, which dis-empowers everyone, no matter what their economic status is.

SRE: Thanks Robert, but I disagree. At this point the cost of running an election is a barrier keeping many groups of people from running. Public financing heavily reduces this barrier, making the running process more democratic.