LEO welcomes letters that are brief (250 words max) and thoughtful. Ad hominem attacks will be ignored, and we need your name and a daytime phone number. Send snail mail to EROSIA, 640 S. Fourth St., Louisville, Ky. 40202. Fax to 895-9779 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We may edit for length, grammar and clarity.
Last week’s theater review of the Humana Festival’s “Hotel Cassiopeia” said the production was based on the life of Joseph Conrad. It is, in fact, based on the life of Joseph Cornell. LEO knows the difference, and regrets the error.
Bluegrass is Back
WOW … Mike Bucayu, Bluegrass Anonymous, volunteers and sponsors … put together the Banks of the Ohio fest. One could not ask for more out of a first-year festival. First-class shows, plenty of picking and jam sessions around the show and the newly renovated Galt House was a perfect scene for fun. Louisville has something special again. Thanks.
Women and Politics
Thank you for Mark Nickolas’ March 22 column, “2007: The Year of the Democratic Women?” For nearly 35 years, the Metropolitan Women’s Political Caucus — a multi-partisan group — has worked to pave a path for women’s participation in the political process. It is rewarding for us to see Mark’s confidence that more women will emerge as political contenders in the coming elections.
Jennifer Moore and Rep. Joni Jenkins, who are mentioned in the article, are among our members who work to increase women’s participation in the political process and to identify, recruit, train and support women for election and appointment to public office. We appreciate Mark’s recognition of their leadership in this mission.
However, the work of our public officials begins when they take office. Even as recently as 2004, Kentucky ranked third-worst for women in health and well-being, women in political participation, social and economic autonomy, and employment and earnings, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (www.iwpr.org/States2004/PDFs/National_FactSheet.pdf). While our acceptance of woman candidates is changing, our challenge becomes electing leaders who focus on the issues most important to women regardless of their party loyalties.
When women vote, women win.
Nicole V. Candler,
vice president, Metropolitan Louisville Women’s Political Caucus
Bury the Socialism Bones
Whilst the rest of us thinking capitalists are looking ahead toward greater economic prosperity in this new century, it seems that social paleontologists Eustace Durrett and Ike M. Thacker IV seem intent on resurrection rather than reality. They have unearthed the bones of leftist ideology, cobbled them together with rhetorical duct tape and heartily declared the dinosaur of socialism to be alive! In their letter to LEO in the March 22 issue, Durrett and Thacker point to the strongest of the socialist species as evidence of its viability, namely countries like Venezuela, Laos, Cuba and China. These are all beacons of economic and social justice? Why, this very letter would get me a stint in prison, if I were a Chinese citizen. In Laos, I wouldn’t have time to write witty letters as I would have to spend my time just finding food to eat.
The authors also trumpeted the achievements of the former Soviet Union, the brontosaur of socialist thinking. The USSR has been shown time and again to have been an oppressive government ruled by an elite class who enjoyed dachas in the countryside and the best in food and vodka. Meanwhile, the common man slaved in factories, waited in long lines to be told the State was out of toilet paper, and went home to cramped, overcrowded apartments. Unfortunately, modern proponents of socialism are like the earliest, and worst, paleontologists of old. Too often they piecemeal together the bones of unrelated animals and conclude that the result is a success. It is truly much the same with our authors, whose dinosaur of socialism is nothing more than the skeletal remains of bleached-out methods and fossilized ideas of a sad time long since passed. And like a skeleton, socialism is just as easy to see through.
Christopher M. Spellman
Congratulations for publishing the satire by pseudo-comrades Eustace Durrett and Ike M. Thacker IV. Their tongue-in-cheek praise of socialism is done with such subtlety, one occasionally suspects they are serious, but — nah, nobody could be that dorky. While reminding us that China, Cuba, Vietnam and Laos remain socialist tyrannies, the authors cleverly ignore the thousands who flee these countries every year to seek refuge in America and Western Europe. As for the Scandinavians, a rare exception in the long list of socialist dystopias, they enjoy the most homogeneous population on the earth, thanks to some of the most restrictive immigration laws on earth. And let us not overlook China’s recent rescue from decades of staggering poverty by — you guessed it — capitalism.
In a breathtaking snippet of parody, Durrett and Thacker assure us that in the former Soviet Union, “… every citizen was provided these necessities.” We can only assume that “necessities” refer to imprisonment, torture, starvation, forced labor and murder, which the Soviet Union handed out on a scale unprecedented in human history. What will these two wry sages be up to next — nominating Pol Pot for the Nobel Peace Prize?
I was disappointed to find no reference to that wonderful experiment known as Divided Germany, which Durrett and Thacker might offer up as socialism’s finest hour. While West German capitalists frivoled away their lives in prosperous self-indulgence, East German socialists constructed ingenious devices for digging under, cutting through or ejecting themselves over 12-foot barbed wire fences.
Socialism for Dummies
I want to thank Eustace Durrett and Ike M. Thacker IV for making me laugh. Their naive “ode to socialism” ranks right up (down?) there with members of the Flat Earth Society.
First, capitalism is not an “ism.” It is not a philosophy but an economic system. Capitalism in a market-driven economy simply rewards efficiency and punishes inefficiency. Thomas Sowell, in his book “Basic Economics,” quotes British economist Lionel Robbins, who defined economics as “The study of the uses of scarce resources which have alternative uses.” When an industry uses scarce resources inefficiently, that industry either changes or ceases to exist. Does anyone remember the once-thriving typewriter industry? Studebaker? Plymouth? When those industries wasted scarce resources, they were eliminated from the market. Unfortunately this also happens to people — the number of farriers currently employed is quite small compared to their numbers in the late 1800s. The same is true in most industries as more efficient uses of scarce resources have been developed. Under capitalism, those who become more efficient are rewarded.
Under socialism, with greater government control of the market, the incentives to improve efficiency are artificially lowered by government support of often failing industries. Socialist governments are also fond of price controls to make goods and services “affordable.” Should Durrett and Thacker take time to actually read Sowell’s book “Basic Economics,” they will learn that price controls equal shortages. The demand at lower prices is always greater than at higher prices. When price equals the costs of production with nothing left for the owner, then common sense dictates reducing output to allow for some amount of profit.
Many of the countries glowingly cited as enjoying life under socialism were once exporters of goods and services. Most are now mired in high unemployment, shortages of basic goods and services and growing poverty. As the socialist governments have “provided” more “benefits,” many people have left their farms and migrated to cities where the government largess could be easily accessed. This has resulted in food shortages, over-crowded cities and increased misery. But HEY! They got free health care! (Nothing is free, of course. Never has been, never will be.)