Letters from our readers.
May 9 1997 3:30 AM

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A Slender Reed

David Plotz's assessment of Ralph Reed, "Ralph Reed's Creed," only got it half right. He is correct to identify the glibness, guile, and style with which Reed manipulates mass audiences, but he doesn't point out that this masks a dark, self-serving ambition. Elevating such people to "gifted" status puts a nice face on their hypocrisy and does very little to improve America's expectations of its politics or government. So I only wish that while delegitimizing Reed's Christian décor, the author could have called a spade a spade.

--Thomas A. DeLuca

Illogical Rigor


In "Who Shall Inherit the Earth?" Steven E. Landsburg continues to astound by insisting that logical rigor requires binary choices. Once more he's taken an issue which he modeled as a silly yes-or-no question, extended the consequences of this answer to ridiculous lengths, and smugly pronounced the conclusions as the only logical result. He posits that "the unconceived are like prisoners being held in a sort of limbo, unable to break through into the world of the living." So life no longer begins even at conception, as some would have it. Rather, the process is like a giant heavenly gum-ball machine, where the bored and listless unborn souls wait to be selected. From this dubious proposition, he deduces that we are morally obliged to have more children than we really want.

Then he uses his trademark rhetorical trick, the false absolute choice: "If we have no obligations to those imprisoned souls--then it seems there can be no moral objection to our trashing Earth, to the point where there will be no future generations." The truth that his assumptions try to mask is that even if you don't assume that all potential unborn, unconceived souls have "rights," there is still a certainty that there will be many children conceived and raised, and there is no contradiction in considering their future to be important.

--Daniel Schwarcz

First Comes Time, Then Comes Money


Michael Kinsley's money-over-time argument in "Trumpet Voluntary" all adds up nice and neatly--provided one's time and one's money aren't intimately linked. But people want to spend money on things they feel connected to. If the hypothetical donor doesn't care about the cause, she will write fewer and smaller checks. But if she's willing to "sacrifice" more of her time, she'll "sacrifice" more of her money.

Ultimately, volunteer work benefits us at least as much as those we serve. It can bring balance and fulfillment to our lives, while providing real leadership to some who may need motivation more than money. And, for the sake of Kinsley's ledger, it benefits the bottom line as well. Get individuals to invest their time and the funding will follow.

--Gary Sulentic

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