Letters to the Editor
Acceptance and Outrage
Just a short note to reinforce your astonishment and outrage at the
lack of an outcry by the media et al. for the GAO report findings about
the $19 billion in overpayments [Bureaucratus, "Waste not, want not," FCW,
Feb. 21]. You consistently and astutely observe and inform your readership
of inequities and gaffes, and I for one appreciate your efforts. I have
looked forward to reading your column with each succeeding issue. Thank
Sadly, Americans have to a large extent lost (in a few cases, perhaps,
repressed) the capacity for outrage, and that alone is a terribly dangerous
cultural signal for the state of the citizenry. Please continue your valuable
work in your meaningful and insightful commentaries.
The above may not necessarily reflect the views of my employer or those
I interact with on a daily basis. They are purely personal and not to be
construed as in any way related to any official policy.
Chief of Industrial Hygiene
Defense Depot Susquehanna, Pa.
I am bothered by the GAO report. I've been bothered over recent years regarding
same kind of reports. This is apparently the worst. Where is the media?
Where is the rage? No wonder we can't cut taxes. I noted that the Coast
Guard gets high marks but can't get an extra dime, while others squander
almost as much or more than the entire Coast Guard budget. That is the reward
it gets for conscientious management and dedication to duty. Seems to me
that if you can't do it right, stop. Billions are being wasted that aren't
helping the intended beneficiaries. Find another way.
Name withheld by request
The tone of the General Accounting Office report that [concluded nine agencies
collectively reported improper payments totaling $19.1 billion in their
fiscal 1998 financial statements] merely reflects the tone of their bosses the Congress who tell them what to say, what not to say and how to say
it. This is where the true heart of the problem lies. As far as your point
that were these agencies private firms, their CEOs would be forced to resign,
agency heads can be, or just fired outright.
Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R-Utah) bill to amend Title 8 of the U.S. Code to
allow more foreign information technology workers into the United States
is the same scenario, but in reverse, in which companies are moving their
operations to other countries for cheaper labor and more profit ["High-tech
workers needed," FCW, Feb. 21]. The result puts U.S. workers out of work
and without medical insurance.
There is no shortage of IT candidates in this country. The problem is
that companies want to hire foreign workers at a fraction of the salary
and benefits paid to U.S. citizens and thus increase their profit margins.
Why is this issue never raised by the media?
Marshall Space Flight Center
No End In Sight
In your column ["Use P/E ratio to measure stock value," fcw.com, Feb.
25], you mentioned the absence of competing investment opportunities is
pushing up the price of stocks and that stocks can't just keep going up.
While logically this is certainly true, there's one thing I've wondered
More and more people are putting tremendous amounts of money in things
like the Thrift Savings Plan and other retirement accounts, IRAs, etc. Historically,
this has not really been the case. As long as these people are working,
this money is going to continue to flow into these plans to be invested
regardless of whether the stock market goes up or down. Professional fund
managers, stockbrokers, etc. will move money between investments, but the
large inflow of funds is going to continue because people sure aren't going
to put it in bank savings accounts.
How is this continuing large influx of funds going to affect overall investments?
Is this perhaps part of what's pushing stocks up regardless of the conventional
wisdom regarding P/Es? I don't pretend to be too knowledgeable about this
sort of thing, but it seems to me if the money keeps flowing in and other
investments such as real estate aren't competitive, won't the stocks keep
being pushed up overall regardless of what "logically" should happen? Individual
stocks will go up or down, but will the continuing trend be up because of
this seemingly unstoppable flow?
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Citizens Exempt From Echelon?
Regarding the Echelon situation ["NSA moves to defuse Echelon controversy,"
fcw.com, Feb. 29], a line that one of your journalists might like to look
at is that Echelon "respects the rights of U.S. persons." Other reports
said "U.S. citizens."
Say an American citizen is overseas and Echelon intercepts an e-mail
message. How can it decide that the person is a U.S. citizen and therefore
no action should be taken? Conversely, for non-U.S. citizens in the United
States, how can it identify and extract their e-mail, or does it just ignore
U.S. e-mail traffic?
Unless they have a copy of an e-mail provider's account lists, how can they
identify one account as being targetable specifically, foreign-based and another as not?