Subject: The Texas Plan as Desegregator
From: Josh Pollack
Date: Thu Dec 9
I'm surprised that Bruce Gottlieb is so troubled by the Texas-California-Florida quasi-affirmative action collegiate admissions plans. If one accepts the need for a corrective (or, depending on how one views it, is willing to live with a mere palliative), why not design one that operates in direct proportion to how segregated a state's schools are?
Of course, affirmative action has never been intended as a corrective (or palliative) for segregation. Yet there is surely some considerable connection between segregation, school quality, and student performance. One could argue that, absent school segregation, any kind of affirmative action admission plans are that much less necessary. Thus, three states now have automatically self-adjusting policies. Surely that's not such a terrible outcome.
Subject: Texas Plan About Class, Not Race
From: Walter L. Williams
Date: Fri Dec 10
In reality, it takes more work and more character for poor student "X" to finish in the top ten percent of his or her public school class and obtain a mediocre SAT score than it does for rich kid "Y" to finish in the bottom half of his private school class and score slightly higher on the SAT. Unlike affirmative action, high school quotas avoid giving an advantage based on something other than merit in those situations where student "X" is white and student "Y" is a minority.
Subject: Connerly No Fan of Compromise
From: John Archer
Date: Thu Dec 9
It is not true that the Texas, Florida and California plans, which guarantee the top 10 percent of each high school graduating class admission to a state university, have been "heralded" by Ward Connerly, as reported in this article. Mr. Connerly strongly criticized Gov. Jeb Bush's Florida plan in a Nov. 18 Wall Street Journal op-ed article, "Why I'm Still Fighting Preferences in Florida." "Part of me applauds Mr. Bush for trying to reach a compromise on this issue," he wrote. "... But some things can't be compromised, and equality under the law is one of them. Mr. Bush's initiative falls short in several areas." Slate should correct this misrepresentation of Mr. Connerly's views.
Subject: Visa: The Tax-Cheat Helper
From: Daniel Thomas
Date: Wed Dec 8
I am not a lawyer but I can understand why Visa won't accept tax payments by credit card. If you fail to pay your taxes the IRS can seize your assets. But if a credit card company pays your taxes and then you don't pay the credit card company what measures can the credit card company take to get its money? I can't imagine that in court the debt you owe to the IRS is equivalent to the debt you owe your credit card company. This seems like a real good deal for the IRS and a horrible idea for the credit card companies. In effect, the IRS is using them as a collection agency.
Subject: The Measure of Subjectivity
From: Tom Stevens
Date: Wed Nov 10
In the "Everyday Economics" article of Nov. 8, Landsburg cites an October 18thNew York Times editorial in which I am quoted as an environmentalist who is skeptical about the concept of existence value because the "numbers might not add up in our favor." This statement is then used to argue that I do not value intellectual consistency. I would simply like to set the record straight. I was partially misquoted by the Times, and Landsburg's interpretation of my "statement" is not accurate. My concern about existence value is that it is very hard to measure and one can generate almost any number one wants to. So I am concerned that some groups will attempt to measure existence value in such a way that they do, in fact, come up with a number that is in their favor. This is my concern, it is not what I advocate. As a University Professor I make every attempt to be objective. I value intellectual consistency highly. I am therefore quite sad that the opposite impression is being conveyed. With respect to existence value, the real problem is that its measurement often becomes subjective.
[Tom Stevens is a professor of resource economics at the University of Massachusetts.]