Remembrance of Things Past
Jodie T. Allen's criticisms of tax credits in "Forgetting the Present" are too sweeping, and deserve a response. She is correct to point out the flaws of un-targeted tax credits intended to stimulate job hiring. These usually fail. Most businesses find that their present employees already qualify for the credit. However, targeted credits aimed specifically at job creation can work.
Consider an empirical example: In the 1960s, President Johnson instituted an "investment tax credit." It gave the economy an immediate shot in the arm, helping businesses modernize and stimulating jobs in the manufacturing sector, especially in the tool and die-making industries. When the tax credit was repealed to help pay for the Vietnam War, the private sector of the economy immediately began to suffer.
A tax credit aimed at encouraging job training for former welfare recipients would achieve similar results. Without a tax credit, business have no incentive to absorb the cost of hiring these people.
Glistening With Prozac
In an otherwise thoughtful article, "Teen-age Midol Junkies," Wendy Kaminer says that "we ignore the damage wrought by laws prohibiting selectively demonized drugs--notably marijuana, heroin, and cocaine (while allowing use of tobacco, alcohol, and Prozac)." Her inclusion of Prozac in the latter group is troublesome.
While it is certainly true that Prozac is overprescribed, and likely abused, it is also true that it is a powerful, necessary therapy for the treatment of severe depression. Furthermore, to include it in a list with the two single most destructive drugs in contemporary society is irresponsible.
For those of us with lifelong, debilitating, severe, and chronic depression, Prozac is literally a lifesaver. The growing popular perception of Prozac as some kind of recreational drug, which Kaminer intentionally or unintentionally reinforces, is terribly offensive.
Hurrah! Hurrah! for "Yadda Yadda Yadda"
I enjoyed Cullen Murphy's brief chronicle of humankind's never-ending search for a way to communicate the fact that much of what we try to communicate isn't really worth communicating. If we're going to be upfront about the meaninglessness of our messages, at least let's use the colorful "yadda yadda yadda" to replace excess verbiage instead of the tepid "blah blah blah." Just think of the potential for the news media. They could cover twice as many stories if they simply inserted "yadda yadda yadda" into their reports. "Our top story tonight: As the presidential race nears the home stretch, Bob Dole and President Bill Clinton yadda yadda yadda. In other news ..."
--Erich Van Dussen
You're Killing Me
This is a somewhat delicate matter. I live in Israel, a country which is supposed to be a democracy. Our prime minister was slain some months ago by a smiling ideological idiot. Therefore, your continual use of "Kill him," as in, "When we told Bill Gates the name of the person responsible for the mistake, he said, 'Have him killed,' " takes on a sinister, real meaning.
I suggest that you try not to use this joke in the future.
--Daniel M. Krauskopf