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Pragmatism? That's What The Gop Has Been Delivering...


Readers Report

PRAGMATISM? THAT'S WHAT THE GOP HAS BEEN DELIVERING...

Your "Memo to Congress: Get going" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Nov. 16) was long on interpretation but short on evidence. It states that voters were "signaling" that they want "pragmatic" policies and "consensus" politics. That's exactly what Republicans have been delivering the past two years, and it cost them 12 seats in the House. And as for your claim that voters were signaling they wanted out of the impeachment "morass"--please tell us in which races impeachment was a big issue. Does it even occur to the pollsters and pundits that the Republicans may let impeachment proceedings run their course because it is the right thing to do?

Paul Johnson

Anchorage, AlaskaReturn to top

...BUT DON'T LET PRAGMATISM CROWD OUT PRINCIPLES

"Victory of the sensible center" (Editorials, Nov. 16) is simplistic, making us choose between pragmatism and extremism. Morality, principles, right from wrong, these must never take a backseat to problem solving.

Perhaps the Republicans themselves are to blame, with their narrow-mindedness, harshness, and hypocrisies. Or perhaps this is the nature of politics in any decaying society. The real damage is to our young people, who are taught to seek only low aims, practical solutions, and compromise.

Norman Kaffen

Los AngelesReturn to top

MAYBE MICROSOFT SHOULDN'T DRIVE THE I-HIGHWAY

Regarding "Nailing Microsoft means proving harm was done," (News: Analysis & Commentary, Nov. 16): There is no doubt Microsoft Corp. has monopoly control of software operating systems through which computer users must pass to enter the Information Superhighway. Compare this to a private firm controlling access, for an excessive fee, to our interstate highway system. We wouldn't tolerate it.

The question for the Justice Dept. and the court: Inasmuch as the Information Highway has the status of a national utility, is profit stemming from monopoly control consistent with the consumer-protection intent of the Sherman, Clayton, and Robinson-Patman Acts?

Gus R. Stelzer

Mill Creek, Wash.Return to top

EUROPE'S `PRIVACY COPS' ARE NOT PATROLLING THE U.S.

As data protection commissioner for the state of Berlin, I am one of the European "privacy cops" to whom you dedicated an article ("Europe's privacy cops," International Business, Nov. 2). You wrote that inspectors trek from Berlin to Sioux Falls, S.D., to Citigroup's data processing center, and that the Germans pay regular visits to make sure data are being handled according to German law. These allegations are wrong. It is true that a contractual agreement has been reached between German Railway (Deutsche Bahn) and German and U.S. branches of the former Citibank. This is intended to secure the privacy interests of millions of customers of Deutsche Bahn who purchased BahnCards, which grant a 50% discount for railway tickets and include a credit-card function.

The cards are produced by Citigroup in the U.S.; for this reason, huge amounts of sensitive data are transmitted to and processed in the U.S. The contracts are regarded worldwide as a yardstick for guaranteeing the protection of customers' privacy. These contracts enable the Berlin Data Protection Commissioner to monitor Citibank's compliance. But up to now, we have not exercised this power.

What took place was an informational visit to the Citibank processing center in Las Vegas, where the cards are printed and where I could satisfy myself of a high data-security standard. A result of Citibank's cooperation with our agency is a high level of acceptance by BahnCard customers, whereas previously there had been a heated discussion in Germany on the risks of Citibank data processing in the U.S.

The objective of the European rules is not to "dictate its norms to the rest of the world." Our rules are intended to ensure that European companies guarantee European citizens' constitutional rights even if the companies export data about them. Our hope is only that the country from which we inherited the idea of data privacy in the 1960s will itself complete the step it started.

Hansjurgen Garstka

Data Protection Commissioner

Berlin

Hooray for the European Union and its privacy inspectors! I'm an Audubon member, but I can certainly find birdseed without having my privacy invaded by appearing on some huckster's mailing list. Wouldn't it be great if Americans still felt they could trust their government to look after their interests as Europeans apparently do?

Ken Smith

Santa Ana, Calif.Return to top


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