Letters from our readers.
Jan. 10 1997 3:30 AM

"Reviewers Reviewed" Reviewed


Your regular column "Summary Judgment" bears the subtitle "Reviewers reviewed" but, in fact, it does not resemble the "review of reviewers" that used to run in Spy as much as it resembles a "review revue" (a title previously used by the paper I work for, the Stranger, when we condensed reviews from The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice, and others into three-word blurbs to run in a table atop our film listings). The summaries read as rather uncritical, so you're not really reviewing them. Don't you think?

--George Fredrickson

Where Do You Want to Go Today?

The inaugural "Webhead" column ("Push Me, Pull You," by Bill Barnes), while informative, is nothing more than an extraordinarily long advertisement for Microsoft. So much for the vaunted independence of Slate from its benevolent dictator of a parent.


--L. Kersten

Generation Screwed

Michael Kinsley's stated refusal to participate "in the deadening conformity of the culture [of] cyberspace" takes an unusual form in his article "Social Security: From Ponzi Scheme to Shell Game." Perhaps I'm the only one out here who thinks Generation-X bashing has lost its sheen of originality, but that's just what Kinsley indulges in with his reference to the "particular generational self-pity" of Gen-Xers.

Hell, if my ire at forced participation in the Social Security program is self-pity, then sign me up--particularly if that might somehow allow me to get out.


I have two questions for the federal government regarding Social Security. First, is it a mandate[d] savings program? OK, fine--simply provide me with quarterly reports on the yield of the fund and the value of my share in it. (It's totally unlikely that the government could invest as successfully as I could with my own money, but never mind that.)

Or, is it a transfer payment to the less-fortunate elderly? Fine, then simply means test it. (I'd prefer to help poor old folks by contributing to charities of my choice, but never mind.)

However, as it stands, my hard-earned cash is simply being handed directly over to retired people, many of whom are much better off than I am--and I'm never going to see dollar one of a payout from this so-called "investment." What the hell is that?

Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, but it's even worse: It's a national DISsavings plan--and it is robbery. Forget privatization and other attempts to "save" the program. Mandated retirement savings was a bad idea that has seen a disastrous and immoral implementation. Let me out of the cursed scam now, and I'll forfeit every penny I've contributed thus far.


I'll even wink at the Generation-X bashing.

--Michael Fuchs

Selfish Prohibitionists

In "The New Politics of the Drug War," Jefferson Morley doesn't tell the whole story of the absolute failure of prohibition. I didn't find his conclusions surprising, but here are the brutal facts of modern prohibition:


1) Drug arrests are at record levels and rising. There were about 1.5 million drug arrests in 1995. This figure is 41 percent higher than in 1991, and 65 percent higher than in 1986. Clinton has continued the hysteria.

2) Marijuana arrests by state and local law enforcement in 1995 totaled 588,963. This is the highest level of pot arrests ever recorded by the FBI, and represents an 18 percent increase above 1994 arrests. The total number of pot arrests under the president who supposedly "didn't inhale" is an astounding 1,450,751!

3) Of these arrests, about 86 percent were for simple possession, and about 14 percent were for sale/manufacture. One pot user is now arrested every 54 seconds in the United States, yet adolescent-use rates are still rising!

I'm not sure what more even needs to be said in this case. Saying, "It's not working" seems to induce the "OK, Let's Spend (and Tax) Even More" response. "Let's Spend (and Tax) Even More" is indeed a popular argument, and it's well funded by the diverse industries spawned by the hysteria. Corrupt politicians don't exist only in Colombia, and they are far from being the only beneficiaries of prohibition.

These people all very much fear the world of personal freedom I propose. Their arguments usually have to do with the morality of letting others make their own (occasionally stupid) choices, without government intervention. Deep down, though, most of them aren't thinking about other people.

--Jim Ray