THE GRASS IS GREENER IN EASTERN EUROPE
Gail Edmondson's fantasy of Gates's heartburn over poor entrepreneurial conditions in France, alluding to the "Polish option," is dead on ("Once upon a time, Bill Gates came to France...," International Business, Feb. 10).
Readers from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary should understand the potential competitive advantage their countries enjoy. This advantage might not be obvious because so much time and effort is being spent bringing these countries and economies into compliance with EU standards--perhaps creating some of the problems that Ms. Edmondson is concerned with.
Effort to renew those economies should look beyond simple imitation of Western Europe and consider leapfrogging approaches that will contribute to the competitiveness of all of Europe.
Robert D. Manz
Helmer & Associates/
Milton, Mass.Return to top
THE AOL WOLF HAD BETTER WATCH OUT
AOL and Steve Case's contention that they weren't prepared for the response the company received to the $19.95 plan is much ado about nothing ("Are flat rates good for business?" Economics, Feb. 10). They knew and felt they could play the odds.
AOL, like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, is preying on naive, first-time Net surfers. AOL better watch out for the woodsman--in the form of class actions and state attorneys general.
Isaac L. Espinoza
HoustonReturn to top
HORSE SENSE ABOUT GENERICS
Let me see if I have this straight. Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories has developed Premarin, a patented drug for human hormone replacement, which is a cocktail of 20 horse hormones ("The politics of generics," Science & Technology, Feb. 3). The drug has demonstrated some positive and some negative effects. The long-term effects of the drug's metabolites are not really known.
The side effects of Premarin are headache, bloating, irritability, breast swelling and pain, uterine cramping, vaginal bleeding, and depression. The company maintains that the public will be put at risk because a generic will not produce the same effects!
An informed public would not choose this treatment, generic or nongeneric.
SeattleReturn to top
ARE CREDIT UNIONS CORPORATE WELFARE BUMS?
We all have our favorite candidates for the corporate-welfare hit list ("The end of corporate welfare as we know it?" News: Analysis & Commentary, Feb. 10). Conspicuously absent from your article is an industry that last year took home more than $800 million in federal tax breaks: the credit unions.
Credit unions do not pay federal income taxes. Many credit unions work hard to serve people of small means, and, for them, perhaps the federal tax break is warranted. A growing number, however, look more like banks than "nonprofit" financial institutions. Members of such unions often share no common bond, such as working in the same factory. And many of their customers are hardly folks of modest means.
For credit unions growing aggressively beyond the scope of what a credit union was meant to be, what is the purpose of their tax exemption?
Donald G. Ogilvie
American Bankers Assn.
WashingtonReturn to top