MANY READERS OF “BULL RUN” will have nodded in approval when authors Eliot Spitzer and Andrew G. Celli Jr. argued that government intervention in the free market is needed to “enforce the rules,” “deal with market failures,” and “uphold core American values” (March 22). Spitzer and Celli like to point out that Enron has become the poster child for corporate greed and corruption. But Enron is small potatoes compared with corruption and failures found in government. Enron executives basically did what politicians did with Social Security: They were not honest with investors. The only difference between the two is that, unlike government executives, corporate executives cannot simply print money. If they could, Enron would not be bankrupt. Surely anyone can find examples of corruption in government. In Spitzer’s own backyard, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority was widely reported to keep two sets of books.
If, as Spitzer and Celli like to point out, pollution is an example of a market failure where the government must intervene, then they seem blissfully unaware that governments pollute. Love Canal, for example, was also a dumping ground for all levels of government waste. Government EPA intervention cost hundreds of millions of dollars. But few people are aware that all the pollutants are still there.
Individual liberty was once the core value in the United States. That value has now been regulated away in the name of the public interest. A free market is a place where values are accepted, not imposed. It maximizes choices. Liberty is just a different word for choice. Regulated markets reduce choices. Laws force people to do what they would not want to do if they were free. Imposing a Democratic face is no more free than imposing a Republican face.
Cohoes, New York
WHILE WRITER—and Mount Holyoke alumna—Kara Baskin lauds the “brainpower of the students and the caliber of the professors” at top women’s colleges, she argues that schools like Mount Holyoke and Wellesley “are superior in spite of, not because of, their single-sex status” (“Singled Out,” March 22). Nonsense. Baskin vastly underestimates the resonance and relevance of the women’s education mission. Indeed, taking the long view of human history, women’s education is in its infancy. It’s a mere 167 years since Mount Holyoke, the oldest of the Seven Sisters, was founded, and only during the last 30 or so years have women had access to previously all-male institutions. Within a world that is still overwhelmingly shaped and dominated by men, these distinguished women’s colleges are proud places of, by, for, and about women. And applications to our colleges are at record-setting numbers. For to be at such a college is to be inspired by the strong women who have come before and to be motivated by the strong women who are one’s peers. This is not a “hugely regressive form of female bonding,” as Baskin claims; rather, it is a joyful embracing of both academic excellence and female selfhood. Rather than being “refuge from and preparation for male-dominated society,” these vibrant colleges develop in women the confidence to take on and to change that male- dominated world.
Joanne V. Creighton
Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley, Massachusetts
I THANK BENNY MORRIS for pointing out to TNR readers that I have not changed my views—I am indeed still appalled by the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Morris, however, changed his views: He now finds such war crimes acceptable. This is the only real argument between us. He wrongly attributes postmodernism and cultural relativism to me; I have very little to do with this ethical debate.
BENNY MORRIS REPLIES: ILAN PAPPE MAY BE “APPALLED” BY Israel’s part in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. But much of the blame lies squarely with the Palestinians: They rejected the U.N.proposed two-state solution (as they did again in 2000) and attacked the Yishuv. When an armed thug tries to murder you in your home, you have every right to defend yourself, even by throwing him out. This is not a war crime. On the other hand, massacres and rapes committed by Israeli troops (as well as by Arab troops) in the course of 1948 were war crimes and are indefensible. But my main problem with Pappe has nothing to do with all of this: He simply wrote a very bad book.