Readers of our Sept. 24 cover story on Alan Greenspan found our story—and his views—refreshing. One approved of "his criticism of the Republican Party for abandoning small government." Another wrote, "It would have been vitally helpful for us if we had known earlier that 'the Iraq war is largely about oil'."
Alan Greenspan's Legacy
Your Sept. 24 cover story on former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and the exclusive excerpt from his book were refreshing, especially his views of the various presidents he served under ("The World According to Greenspan"). Not mentioned, however, yet emphasized in his book, are his sharp criticisms of the Bush administration's years of deficit spending and the acknowledgment that "the Iraq war is largely about oil." Though this is historically interesting now, it would have been vitally helpful for us all if we had known a long time ago that even "the oracle" had himself arrived at these conclusions.
Rev. David W. Long
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Rather than being xenophobic, let's recognize that what is good for American business is not necessarily good for the American people. Alan Greenspan's suggestion that we could open the door to highly skilled immigrants to suppress high-end salaries and close the income gap is intriguing until one realizes that it is not our highly skilled workers who are overpaid. It is the power kings at the top who are earning many times what the rest of us are. Bringing in highly skilled workers would have the same dampening effect on the middle class as outsourcing, leaving the CEOs' salaries intact. Wages stagnated at 1980s levels after opportunists took advantage of a wave of illegal immigrants. Our leaders ignored or helped to create the desperate conditions that made these people flee. Instead, we should foster the economies of neighboring nations and encourage a world view that values the balance between population and prosperity.
Alan Greenspan has it exactly right in offering a blistering criticism of the Republican Party for abandoning its economic principles of small government. This is something that Greenspan preached, consistently going before Congress to warn of the dangers of unrestrained spending and running up massive deficits. Elected officials of both parties always listened with deference, and then proceeded to ignore virtually everything he said. Today there is no difference between the two major parties on spending. Both spend trillions of dollars that they do not have, thrusting enormous burdens on future generations just as our entitlement programs crumble and require massive restructuring and tax increases.
Oren M. Spiegler
Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania
Lucky Greenspan headed the Federal Reserve for almost two decades when the United States was at the peak of its economic prosperity, and affluent Americans spent lavishly to keep the lustrous economy alive and going. But Greenspan overlooked one crucial point. As economists know, a good economy generates wealth, and that wealth generates further wealth. However, while this may be true for some people in some countries, it cannot make all the people in this world rich. The reason is obvious. To be wealthy is to devour energy extravagantly. There are just not enough energy sources on earth to support the energy consumption if everyone becomes as affluent as American consumers. Nonrenewable energy sources don't come free nor run forever, nuclear reactors may not actually provide clean or cheap energy, and it is still a long way to tap sufficient energy from the sun, wind and/or biofuels. So, a market economy benefits only a certain group of people: the rich get richer. Yet Americans cannot simply keep squandering resources. There is a limit—and it may be earlier than 2030.
John B.T. Spencer
Troubles for Friends of Bush
Apart from its excellent title ("With Friends Like George"), Christian Caryl's Sept. 24 article offered no links between a leader's domestic struggles and his support for the War on Terror. For example, Shinzo Abe's "failure" has to do with his woes from domestic pensions, health care and shaky coalition support. Tony Blair left office in a very dignified manner after completing his extended terms. He remains a great global statesman today. Pervez Musharraf has had Islamic fundamentalists opposing his secular governance even before the War on Terror was declared. John Howard has Muslim citizens demanding to Islamize certain constituencies. This is a domestic constitutional crisis, not a war. These are real domestic issues that these leaders have to deal with. They will either sink or swim politically because these issues affect their electorates most. My disappointment is that the article pinned everything that goes wrong in the world today to President George W. Bush and attempted to portray these leaders as U.S. "poodles" for the wrong reasons.
George Bush is performing a retailer's trick: increase prices by 300 percent, then offer a sale discount of, say, 50 percent. He increased the troops in Iraq by 30,000 soldiers earlier this year for the surge, and now he is advocating the return of a fraction of those because today Iraq is a "success." And he has changed his goal from "victory" to "success." What success? Once American oil interests are protected by the passing of the oil bill in Iraq, the United States will declare full success. The defeat will be for the Iraqi people. They are the losers in all scenarios. Still, there can't be anything wrong with America's withdrawing its troops, either gradually or all at once.
Auckland, New Zealand
DDT to Fight a Deadly Disease?
"The Doomsday Spray" (Sept. 24) draws attention to malaria that kills more than 800,000 children a year in sub-Saharan Africa. While targeted indoor spraying of DDT in small amounts is one approach, human exposure to even low levels of DDT can lead to reproductive and developmental problems; insects develop resistance to DDT. Environmental Defense's support for limited use of DDT to control raging malaria epidemics does not in any way contradict Rachel Carson's message or our earlier work to ban agricultural uses of DDT in the United States. The long-term answer to control of malaria and other insect-borne diseases lies with adequate investment in public-health surveillance, treatment and comprehensive pest management, including the identification of safer and more effective pesticides.
JOHN BALBUS, M.D., M.P.H.
CHIEF Health Scientist
Despite its negative impact on human health, the usefulness of DDT in curbing malaria has been proved again and again. This is vindicated by the experience in South Africa. DDT has been around for decades. What troubles me is why no other cheaper and safer replacement is found to combat malaria. Surely the world's big pharmaceutical companies could find a new pesticide that would eradicate the mosquitoes that carry this disease. Could it be that such a new chemical is already available but too expensive to dispense to poor African countries? If that is the case, it is shameful to ignore the saving of the lives of millions and maintaining a healthier environment. That said, the bottom line is, if one needs to spray DDT, do it with the utmost care and prudence.
As the author of a forthcoming book on the history of malaria (for Farrar, Straus & Giroux), and the author of "The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients" (2006), I am responding to your recent story on DDT and malaria in Africa. I'm glad to see you covering the fight against malaria—for too long a forgotten scourge, even as it takes down millions every year. But why the misinformation? There never was a "coherent strategy to fight malaria" in Africa 50 years ago, as your lead sentence states. The WHO-led "global" malaria-eradication campaign of the 1950s purposely excluded Africa, which was considered too "backward" for it. More to the point, your story suggests that the sole obstacles to DDT's conquest of malaria are African farmers illegally using DDT and stubborn anti-DDT environmentalists. In fact, malarial mosquitoes become resistant to DDT by being exposed to commonly used agricultural insecticides as well, not just illegally diverted DDT. And it was not environmental groups that threatened African farmers with sanctions if they used DDT for malaria control; it was the European Union, which feared DDT-contaminated produce. Finally, while DDT surely is the cat's meow in the insecticide world, it isn't fair to imply that it had anything to do with the recent decline in child mortality reported by UNICEF, which the agency itself attributes to breast-feeding, vitamin A, measles vaccines and mosquito nets. The fight against malaria in Africa will require all the clear-eyed political, financial and scientific will we can muster. Let's not spoil it with hype.
Terrorists in Turkey
Peter Galbraith argues that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has moderated over time and that if Turkey were to give amnesty to these terrorists on Qan-dil Mountain, they would return home ("What They Are Missing," Sept. 24). But the PKK's recent terrorist attacks in Turkey prove that it has not moderated and is determined to fight. An October attack on a minibus killed one and injured 13 civilians in a wedding party. Another ambush killed at least 17 Turkish soldiers. Unless the Kurdistan Regional Government and America take progressive steps to remove the PKK from Qandil Mountain, the Turkish-American strategic partnership will be deeply damaged at a time when the United States most needs allies in the region.
DNA 11 Responds
In your Oct. 22 article "Making Art from Genetic Code," you say a person by the name of Darrin Grandmason is the original inventor of DNA art. We have evidence that proves otherwise. It would be more accurate to say that DNA 11 is the first company to successfully market DNA art in the world. All the companies mentioned in that article came after us.