Re "Harvard: Tops in...engineering? (Up Front, Nov. 8): The plan of Harvard President Lawrence Summers to expand the university's engineering program to achieve international stature is a waste of the endowment fund. With a premier engineering school at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the same locale, it would make more sense intellectually and financially to devise a program where engineering hopefuls at Harvard could take courses at both Harvard and MIT with a dual degree issued by the two institutions. Partial or total funding by Harvard would surely be a more attractive financial venture than supplying money for an enhanced program at Harvard alone that would require years to earn the reputation of the MIT curriculum.
Silver Spring, Md.
Re "Melting away steel's costs" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Nov. 8): BusinessWeek is accurate in saying that Wilbur L. Ross Jr. did nothing illegal by acquiring bankrupt steel companies and dumping their pensions onto the federal Pension Benefit & Guaranty Corp. That said, the legality of the U.S. code and federal policy has little to do with fiscal (and generational) justice and ethics. As a faithful subscriber, I expect some form of public service from BusinessWeek when it comes to highlighting seriously flawed government financial arrangements. Ross should be ceremoniously dubbed an enemy of the U.S. Treasury.
The article "With oil over $50, nukes are back" (Washington Outlook, Nov. 8) is based on the incorrect assumption that oil is used extensively to generate electricity in the U.S. In fact, the U.S. produces almost no electricity from oil. According to the Energy Information Administration, in 2003 only 3% of the nation's electricity was produced from oil. Coal (51%), nuclear (20%), natural gas (16%), hydroelectric (7%), and other renewables (2%) accounted for the rest of U.S. electricity production. Most of the small amount of oil that is used to generate electricity is for peaking [highest-demand] purposes, a service for which investment in new nuclear power plants is not conceivably economical. The most sensible rationale for investing in new nuclear power plants is to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions produced when coal and natural gas are burned to produce electricity -- not to respond to high oil prices.
Paul L. Joskow
MIT Center for Energy
& Environmental Policy Research
"Your new health plan" (Special Report, Nov. 8) missed a troubling aspect: Unfunded or underfunded health savings accounts and the very real potential of a cost shift to providers (physicians and hospitals). What happens when you need surgery and you don't have the funds to meet your $2,000 or $3,000 deductible? You ask for a payment plan from the health provider. Now the health provider is on the hook to collect from the patient. So even though the cost to the employer goes down and the employee saves money through smaller health-insurance premiums, the accounts receivable of the health-care providers goes up.
How does this save the system money?
I read "This pep pill is pushing its luck" on Provigil (Science & Technology, Nov. 1) and contrasted it with "Why drugs need a longer look" (BusinessWeek Online, Oct. 28) on Vioxx by the same author. I checked for common adverse effects for Provigil on ePocrates and found a variety that occur at least 2% of the time: headache, nausea/vomiting, rhinitis, diarrhea, nervousness, pharyngitis, dizziness, dry mouth, anorexia, depression, anxiety, respiratory disorders, cataplexy, insomnia, elevated liver transaminases, dyskinesia, hypertonia, dyspnea, hypotension, and hypertension.
As a professor of psychopharmacology who also runs a clinic for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), I am astounded that physicians use this drug so frequently. U.S. medical education lacks scientific training in statistics and study design, which are needed to elevate the art of medicine to the science of medicine. With proper training, our physicians should be able to make informed judgments about drugs such as Provigil and prevent another Vioxx fiasco!
Long Beach, Calif.
BusinessWeek's criticism of the Harvard Business School Career Services Office ("Best B-Schools" Special Report, Oct. 18) just doesn't add up. The nearly 900 members of HBS Class of 2004 received a higher percentage of job offers at graduation (94%) and three months after (96%) than any school in the survey. The median salary of $147,500 was second by a margin of 1.7%, while your corporate poll put HBS in the top two. And job postings for the Class of 2004 jumped by almost 40%.
These figures drew high approval ratings from our students. They also attest to the fact that recruiters like what they find. If they have a problem, it may well be that our supply of students can't keep up with companies' demand for them.
W. Carl Kester
Senior Associate Dean &
Chairman of the MBA Program
Harvard Business School