Letters to the Editor
Readers write about the subprime mess and lender accountability, the result of a carbon tax, and how to fix the Internet.
In fixing the subprime mess, hold the lenders accountable
Regarding your Oct. 24 editorial, "The race to rescue subprimes": It suggests that mortgage lending might come "to a halt," and "worthy would-be home buyers" would suffer if Congress passes tough regulations on the mortgage industry. But I doubt it. With successful lobbying, the industry will bounce back from this, and home buying will continue as usual. Congressman Barney Frank's bill merely seeks to hold lenders as accountable as they should have been in the first place, when they were coercing buyers into accepting those risky mortgages.
The subprime mess is the result of brokers' irresponsible practices, coupled with the need of poor and financially unsophisticated people with homes they can't afford.
Consider the results of a carbon tax
Regarding your Oct. 26 editorial, "A tax on carbon to cool the planet": This tax will reduce emissions by reducing the output of the US economy. The cost to consumers will be both direct (payment for energy use) and indirect (increased cost of products by embedded cost of industrial production). Emissions will decrease as we import more products from China while exporting even more jobs. Though I support reducing the use of fossil fuels, the underlying reason is finite supply. Global warming has become a religion that preaches worst-case scenarios.
In response to your Oct. 26 editorial on a carbon tax: A carbon tax is the best way to reduce fossil-fuel usage. However, a unilateral tax on consumption in the US would not work well. The result would be greater reliance, directly or indirectly, on energy produced abroad, particularly in developing countries with fewer controls on carbon than in industrialized countries.
A tax on goods from countries that fail to cut carbon emissions would probably be challenged as an impermissible trade barrier under World Trade Organization rules.
A better solution is a worldwide carbon tax negotiated among all countries. This solution presents even greater obstacles than a US-only tax: Who will collect the tax: the producing countries, the UN, or some new world body? Where will the tax be collected: at the mine entrance or wellhead, the point of consumption, or somewhere in between? How will tax receipts be distributed: in proportion to consumption, in proportion to population, according to need?
These questions must be addressed in the run-up to negotiations for a replacement to the Kyoto Protocol.
How to fix the Internet
Regarding the Oct. 25 article, "Is it time to scrap the Internet and start over?" Amen, but replacing the Internet will be quite an adventure. There is a fundamental issue: We don't really know what is being sent over those channels. Half of the Internet's capacity is used in a non-tandard fashion. If you design a new router and somehow ensure that it conforms perfectly to all published standards, its use will still probably crash the Internet. The secret to success is in experienced engineers. We do indeed need something better, especially in the financial security realm. Getting it will be no easy task.
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