Correspondence

The Taxonomist

Robert S. Mcintyre asserts in his May 21, 2001, "Taxonomist" column that I
suggested in off-camera banter that I believed
that the conservative positions on Social Security reform, tax reduction, and
choice in Medicare are unpopular with the American people.

No. I didn't say that, and it isn't true. The American people
are very supportive of tax cuts. The polls show it, and better yet, look at the
referendum questions on the ballot in South Dakota and Montana, where in
November 2000 citizens voted 80 percent and 70 percent to abolish their state
death taxes. Or look at how poll-driven Democrats voted. (Republicans vote for
tax cuts because they believe in lower taxes. Democrats vote for lower taxes when
their polls indicate that it's the politically wise move.) The Bush tax cut
passed with 12 Democrat votes in the Senate (and with a newly minted independent
one). Every part of the Bush tax cut passed with Democratic support in the House.
Expanding IRAs and 401(k) tax-free savings plans won 407 votes in the House. The
Gore campaign must have thought tax cuts were popular--they campaigned on a
multi-hundred-billion-dollar tax cut.

As far as Social Security, we just had a nice election in Virginia's Fourth
Congressional District. In a 39 percent African-American district, the Republican
won campaigning in support of personal accounts for Social Security.

I may have been unclear, or Mr. McIntyre might have missed my point. I will
not try to joke with him in the future. I hope this is a personal failure to
understand humor on his part and would hate to think the entire left is going to
develop the sense of humor of the feminists.

See you at the front.

Grover G. Norquist

President

Americans for Tax Reform

Washington, D.C.

Robert S. McIntyre Responds:

Let's see. Over the past few years, the right has characterized tax cuts
for the rich as mainly aid to low-income single mothers, preposterously claimed
that Social Security discriminates against blacks and Hispanics, and called a
bill to curb state-court lawsuits against HMOs a "patients' bill of rights."

Silly me, I thought these and similar rhetorical cover-ups
were intended to mislead the public about the true effects of the Bush tax,
Social Security privatization, and the like. But now Grover tells me my
complaints reflect "a personal failure to understand humor." Oh, dear. I'm so
embarrassed.

A Quagmire for Our Time

Peter Schrag's report "A Quagmire for Our
Time
" [August 13, 2001] was one of the best write-ups on the drug war that I
have
seen in quite some time. Bravo. Now if only some of that common sense could rub
off on our legislators, this nation would be a better place.

Miranda Collins

Valley Village, CA

Peter Schrag deserves credit for an astute,
largely well-informed analysis of the medical-marijuana and drug-reform movement.

However, he is mistaken to cite the example of two recent
Petaluma, California, medical-marijuana growers who were arrested with 900 plants
as an instance of how advocates "stretch the definition of medicinal usage" to
persons with no "defensible medical reason for possessing pot." In fact, the
defendants were acquitted on the evidence that their crop was being grown for
1,200 documented members of one of the most respected patients' groups in San
Francisco. Even the city's district attorney testified at the trial that the
defendants were "performing a public service" to the city. The jury's verdict
aptly illustrates the depth of Californians' disaffection with the federal
government's current indefensible medical-marijuana policy.

Dale Gieringer

NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws)

San Francisco, CA

Peter Schrag's article is a concise and
accurate synopsis. Schrag, however, should have included in his rogue's gallery
such moronic Democratic luminaries as Senators Joseph Biden and Dianne Feinstein;
they are just as fanatic as Asa Hutchinson and John Ashcroft. There are plenty of
others. As he noted, most politicians are ignorant of the realities of the war
they fomented. Perhaps if they read articles such as Peter Schrag's, they would
become enlightened.

John McKee

Columbia Falls, MT

Let's Talk about Gender, Baby

In "Let's Talk about Gender, Baby"
[August 13,
2001], Wendy Kaminer suggests that the phrase "transgendered people" is an
imprecise way of referring to transsexuals. It is not. The current usage of the
term transgender dates from the early 1990s, when transsexuals,
cross-dressers, and some butch lesbians and effeminate gay men sought a term that
could unite them and others who transcend our culture's binary gender system. Our
community has built an expanded lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement.

And while Kaminer is correct in suggesting that the federal
courts have moved some distance toward interpreting the sex-discrimination
provisions of Title VII to apply broadly to gender-based discrimination, she goes
too far by saying that the Price Waterhouse and Oncale decisions
"outlaw"
such discrimination. The federal courts have yet to apply this reasoning to
protect the employment rights of transgender people.

Donna M. Cartwright

Founding Member, NYAGRA (New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy)

Domestic Spy

I was surprised to read Julia M. Klein's dismissive review of Barbara
Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed ["Domestic Spy," July 30,
2001]. Ehrenreich's book is a wake-up call for those who've been oblivious to the
sufferings of low-wage workers; Klein's review puts us back to sleep. She
apparently believes that only Ehrenreich's working-class background can explain
her outrage at what she witnessed. I am amazed that any reader, regardless of
class background, could fail to share Ehrenreich's anger at the humiliating,
physically punishing, and often illegal ways in which low-wage workers are
treated.

Klein is also skeptical of Ehrenreich's research method, an
approach best characterized as "participant observation," a venerable tradition
within the social sciences. Our reliance on number crunching to the exclusion of
work with actual people has contributed to the misconceptions that plague poverty
research. Ehrenreich should be applauded for her work in the field.

Klein believes that things couldn't be as bad as Ehrenreich claims, that
beyond Ehrenreich's awareness her co-workers' lives are enriched by "social
networks that provide some nurturing and financial support." Yet research on the
social networks of low-income women has shown repeatedly that the stresses of
poverty destroy social connections and that poor women are typically more
stressed by having to provide economic and emotional support to network members
than they are enriched by any financial or emotional support they receive.

As the bumper sticker says, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying
attention." Nickel and Dimed calls attention to the injustices committed
every day against low-wage workers in this country.

Deborah Belle

Cambridge, MA

Kudos

How refreshing to get a break from the
so-called liberal mainstream media. The articles I've read in TAP are concise
and factual, and I'm hoping every member of Congress gets a copy of the
magazine. (Okay, so few of them read anymore, but maybe a staffer or two will
chime in.)

I'm particularly pleased to find Kevin Phillips among your
contributors, as I have been a devoted fan of his since reading The Emerging
Republican Majority
. That he is a nominal Republican is delicious icing on
the cake.

Thanks again for making the rest of my four years of W. the hilarious and
hugely ironic episode it can't help but be. (By the way, I'm from Austin, Texas,
and have seen this bozo in action way too up close and personal.)

Phil Toler

Via e-mail

Correction

Owing to an editorial error in our August 13 issue,
the fertility rates of women in Cameroon (5.3) and Mexico (2.8) were incorrectly
quoted as percentages in the letter from C.W. Helstrom. They are pure numbers and
represent the average number of children that women in each country bear during
their lives.

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