`PERHAPS WE NEED A FEW MORE MICROSOFTS'
Whatever you might think about Bill Gates or Microsoft Corp., without someone to show the way, most of our telephone and cable companies would still be sending out news releases about planned future meetings to discuss their possible future offerings ("Bill Gates, the cable guy," News: Analysis & Commentary, July 14). Microsoft gets things done. Left to their own devices, the Tele-Communications Inc. and Bells of the world would continue as dinosaurs wallowing in the low-tech tar pits. Come to think of it, perhaps we need a few more Microsofts.
John C. Schuler
Portland, Ore.Return to top
SINCE WHEN WAS LEISURE A LOW LIVING STANDARD?
In "If Europeans Worked More..." (Economic Trends, July 14) you reason that Europeans have a lower living standard than people in the U.S. because they "put in shorter work weeks, and enjoy longer vacations." Say, I think we need a new definition of how that there standard of living is calculated.
David S. Smith
Annapolis, Md.Return to top
DON'T FREEZE OUT ALTERNATIVES TO CFCs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in combination with other governmental agencies, has been working hard to combat illegal imports of chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants, and we appreciate your informing your readers about this issue ("The black market vs. the ozone," Environment, July 7).
However, you say the cost of retrofitting older cars to use CFC alternatives can be as high as $1,200 and that recharging a vehicle with CFCs costs about 80 dollars. In fact, the vast majority of retrofits can be performed for $250 or less. And the $80 you cite to recharge a vehicle might cover the cost of the refrigerant alone, but not include the cost of labor associated with the recharge.
The article also fails to mention that converting to a CFC substitute will save the vehicle owner money in the long run, because recharging a vehicle with an alternative is less expensive than recharging with CFCs. The savings from choosing to convert will continue to increase as CFC supplies dwindle and prices escalate over the next few years.
Environmental Protection Agency
WashingtonReturn to top
`VALUE AT RISK' CAN PUT RISK BACK INTO MANAGEMENT
The quantification of "value at risk" is no doubt an important and useful tool when properly applied and appropriately used ("Taking the angst out of taking a gamble," Finance, July 14). But in the hands of those who understand little about the nature of "implied" volatilities and confidence levels, many will fall victim to the false sense of security impressive statistical programs promote. Inasmuch as this serves to distance management from more intuitive qualitative judgments, the methodology itself creates a whole new level of risk.
ChicagoReturn to top
SBC IS SPENDING BIG BUCKS TO INVITE LOCAL COMPETITION
If SBC Communications Inc. is "not in the race" to open local phone networks and markets to competition, as Peter Elstrom claims ("Why SBC shouldn't be the first Bell in long distance," News: Analysis & Commentary, July 21), maybe it's because we are so far ahead of the pack.
By the end of this year, SBC Communications will spend $1.2 billion on--and devote 4,000 employees to--opening our telephone networks to local competitors, in full compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996. No other company in any industry has ever spent so much to invite competitors to take their customers. We have signed some 170 agreements with competitors in seven states allowing them to use our networks. The only thing stopping them from providing local service is their own commitment to competition in the less lucrative local marketplace.
When it comes to complaints that SBC Communications is somehow hindering competition in the local market, our erstwhile competitors are just arguing.
James D. Ellis
Senior Executive Vice-President and General Counsel
SBC Communications Inc.
San AntonioReturn to top