Letters – Letter to the Editor

Letters – Letter to the Editor

–I usually enjoy Ramesh Ponnuru’s articles, but one statement in “This Will Hurt” (Feb. 24) inflamed me: Without citing any statistics or sources, he asserts, off the top of his head, that “the average elderly American spent more every year dining out than getting drugs.”

This is the kind of bald, quasi-witty statement that gives us conservatives the false reputation of being “mean-spirited.”

Sam Woods

Los Angeles, Calif.

–Ramesh Ponnuru replies: My source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Expenditure Survey, 2001. Average annual expenditure for consumers 65 and over on “food away from home”: $1,314. Equivalent number for “drugs”: $884.

— John J. Miller’s March 10 portrait of Gov. Bob Taft (“‘Governor Tax'”) is as distorted as the accompanying cartoon caricature of the governor.

Mr. Miller plays spokesman for a conservative legislative faction that has refused to resolve Ohio’s budget deficit by any form of revenue enhancement. Mandated by law to balance the budget, the governor had no choice but to slash spending and he has done so, while supporting revenue increases to maintain educational services. His grandfather would have been proud of his courage.

Bob Taft didn’t cause the current economic slump, but he is trying to cope in a responsible manner. It is one thing to oppose government spending, quite another to oppose all spending. Gov. Taft knows the difference.

Edmund J. Adams

Vice-Chairman, Ohio Board of Regents

Cincinnati, Ohio

–John J. Miller replies: If Gov. Taft had controlled spending during his first term, he wouldn’t need whatever “courage” it takes to propose the biggest tax hike in Ohio history.

–In his article on the “Anglosphere” concept (“The Empire of Freedom,” March 24), Ramesh Ponnuru misquotes me and misrepresents my argument. I never maintained that shared cultural values would not override “hard calculations of material interests.” I said that they would not prevail over “hard calculations of national interests,” which is rather different — the difference being that between a crude Marxism and classical realism.

Mr. Ponnuru also errs in thinking that my biography refutes my argument. The ease with which I have moved from one English-speaking country to another certainly testifies to their cultural compatibility. But it establishes nothing concerning the harmony of their political interests, nor about the relative importance of culture and those interests in determining their behavior.

Owen Harries

Neutral Bay, NSW

Australia

–I particularly like the new addition of a picture of Bill Buckley on his “On the Right” pages.

There are two things wrong, however: He is facing in the wrong direction, and he should be tilted at his usual 45[ordinal indicator, masculine] angle. Now that would be right!

Marion Holmquist

Diamondhead, Miss.

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