Volume 89 Issue 18 | p. 2 | Letters
Issue Date: May 2, 2011

Fundamentally Divided

Department: Letters

To quote Rudy Baum’s editorial “A Fundamental Divide” (C&EN, Feb. 28, page 3): “Is government capable of productive activity on behalf of citizens beyond providing for the national defense?” Baum concludes by saying Democrats say “yes” and Republicans say “no.”

Does that capture the spectrum of Republican thought on the complex issues of government spending? For example, how do you explain staunch support from some Republicans for science education and research? (Newt Gingrich is one notable example.) Notice the very classic “have you stopped beating your wife” phraseology utilized in Baum’s statement above, which is the hallmark of a very biased, simplistic, close-minded accuser.

I would like to ask the membership of ACS a different question: Are there enough outlets like the New York Times editorial page, Huffington Post, and the Nation that publish articles similar in content and tone to Baum’s left-leaning political stem-winders? Should Baum and the editorial board devote the editorial page of the official organ of ACS for this purpose? Is there a different (better?) purpose for the editorial page of our newsmagazine?

Recall that Baum recently advocated for a better understanding of the science of global warming (a laudable goal no scientist would argue with), but he followed with political solutions favored by the political left: carbon taxes and even a zero-growth economy. (Is the latter solution leftist utopian foolishness?) I urge those members who agree with every word of Baum’s recent editorials to consider how appropriate such blatantly leftist political content is on the editorial page of our newsmagazine, which draws members from an entire spectrum of political thought and who don’t have access to Baum’s bully pulpit.

Given the recent tone of C&EN editorials, I am reconsidering my membership for the first time in 35 years, and I assume that others are also. Perhaps a large group of us should withdraw for a year or two, until a more sensible editor is found or a more politically neutral tone on the editorial page is instituted by the C&EN editorial board.

José Barreto
Fort Myers, Fla.

Thank you for your courageous editorial. I am in total agreement with your assessment of the economic damage that the reckless pursuit of ideological goals will likely inflict on our nation.

Throughout its brief history, the U.S. has grown to become a great and wealthy nation. I, for one, believe it is a nation worth paying taxes for. As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes observed, “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization.” However, there have evolved among us those who manifestly oppose taxation; those who invoke impending poverty as an excuse for eliminating the advances we have made toward creating a more perfect union; those who are intent on fomenting a widespread anger against our government by using cruel, demeaning, unsubstantiated attacks. As a result, our most well established and effective scientific, educational, environmental, and social programs are now threatened.

I hope you will continue to articulate your concerns on behalf of the scientific community as well as those who truly love this country and believe that it is not just an obligation, but their privilege, to pay taxes to sustain it.

John O’Connor
Columbia, Mo.

Kudos to Baum for telling it like it is in his editorial. I wish that our commercial media had laid it out so cogently, concisely, and clearly. Similar praise goes to Cheryl Hogue and Jeff Johnson for their report on the slashes in federal spending by House Republicans (C&EN, Feb. 28, page 7). The strength of their reporting was not only in what happened but in what interest group had pushed for a specific action. That the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association was against ethanol in gasoline should not be a surprise, but to find out that the American Chemistry Council approved of potentially emasculating EPA’s control of greenhouse gases was a bit unexpected.

Keep up the good work.

Emil A. Lawton
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

 
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