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NORQUIST: PUSHING STATES’ ROLE WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO To the editor: We read with great interest Randolph J. May’s recent opinion expressed in his Legal Timescolumn titled ” A Call for Real Federalism” ["Fourth Branch," March 10, 2003, Page 54]. A senior fellow and director of communications policy studies at the Progress & Freedom Foundation, Mr. May uses this opportunity to chastise what he calls “self-proclaimed” conservative advocacy groups which support the idea that states, not the federal government, are best-suited to fairly and effectively implement competitive telecommunications policy. In a debate of this magnitude and complexity, it is right to engage in a healthy exchange of views and ideas, even among conservative groups. The American Conservative Union and 21 other like-minded organizations signed a letter to the Federal Communications Commission expressing the shared opinion that the agency should promulgate unbundled network element-platform (UNE-P) rules that favor a more active role by the states in setting policy as it relates to local telephone competition. Mr. May seems to find the concept of federalism and local control — at least in this case — an aberration of conservative values. Free-market conservatives want the telecommunications industry to move as rapidly as possible from its past of regulation, price controls, and barriers to entry to one where all markets are open and there are no government-created barriers to entry. Here, as in other cases, conservatives with the same goals can disagree on the best strategy to get to free and open markets. The Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, among others, do not agree with us on this issue, and we respect their position, as we believe they respect ours. It was particularly unfortunate that Mr. May singled out the American Conservative Union, which is headed by David Keene, one of the conservative movement’s most principled fighters. Keene has even taken on conservative administrations when ideological principles are at stake. The position of the 21 conservative leaders is forthright: “Because the state [public utilities commissions] are closer to the specific needs of consumers, the states are best suited to implement the competitive promise and Congressional intent of the Telecommunications Act — that consumers should have a choice of local telephone companies. Because states can tailor UNE-P to regional situations and can set different rates to meet different local conditions, maintaining UNE-P and establishing fair UNE-P wholesale rates are issues best left to the states. We believe the FCC should recognize this by maintaining this valuable tool for the different states.” The concept is simple: Competitive forces can be nurtured, fostered, and guided most effectively when closest to the people. This is certainly preferable to misguided industrial policy mandates forced upon the states and their industries by federal agencies. This is especially true when attempting to inject competition into what has historically been a government-mandated, government-granted monopoly service. Furthermore, when the various strategies for achieving rapid movement to freer and more open markets in telecommunications are allowed in the 50 states, we can and do see what works and what doesn’t work. That is the great advantage of allowing states to compete in how they get to competition. Friedrich von Hayek said it well: “To create conditions in which competition will be as effective as possible, to prevent fraud and deception, to break up monopolies — these tasks provide a wide and unquestioned field for state activity.” The Telecommunications Act of 1996 set the framework to dismantle a monopoly service with the express desire to ensure a state and federal partnership to accomplish this task. Mr. May not only advocates removing the states from this plan, he prefers that the government-created monopolies be allowed to operate without any constrictions or constraints in their effort to fully and completely dominate telecommunication services. This is exactly what the four Bell companies have been arguing for nearly seven years. In the end, we can argue philosophical differences or just rest our case on the results. We’ll take the results: In states where the utility commissioners have a say in the ’96 Telecom Act partnership, over 10 million consumers have exercised their freedom of choice and opted to use a competitive provider for local phone service. Rates have dropped, service has improved, and if this same vibrant marketplace was actually in place in all 50 states, consumers would save — by some estimates — over $9.4 billion annually. Grover Norquist President Americans for Tax Reform Washington, D.C. SLAVERY SUITS SERVE JUST GOALS To the editor: I take issue with the observations by Allen G. Siegel in ” Reparations Claims Just Don’t Add Up” ["Letters," March 17, 2003, Page 53]. The issue of reparations must never “rest in the dustbin of history where it belongs.” Slavery can never be fully compensated for. The successors of those who profited from slavery should indeed pay to attempt compensation. The compensation need not be in the form of direct cash payments to descendants of slaves, but it could, at least, be used to attempt to level the playing field which is still tilted against descendants of slaves. I suggest the comparison to the Holocaust is not “specious.” While “billions of dollars in tangible property was wantonly stolen by the Nazis . . . and millions of innocents were simply slaughtered” during the Holocaust, billions of dollars in labor were taken from the human beings who were enslaved and every basic freedom was denied them. Who can say which group endured the greater insult? Perhaps Mr. Siegel is not aware that some of the leading lawyers in the Holocaust cases have, because of their experience and their compassion, served as consultants to the lawyers preparing the slavery reparations cases. Lawyers of good will should work to pursue justice and cleanse our nation of the shame of slavery. Jack H. Olender Jack H. Olender & Associates Washington, D.C. BLACK, WHITE AMERICANS ALIKE HAVE INTEREST IN REMEMBERING To the editor: Please, allow me, a descendant of slaves and a survivor of Jim Crow, one last word on the controversial and often heated issue of reparations for slavery [" Slave, Race Claims Start Taxing Targets," Feb. 24, 2003, Page 16; " Reparations Claims Just Don't Add Up," March 17, 2003, Page 53]. Most black American taxpayers realize that no check ever will be in the mail for slavery reparations, let alone for the 100 years after, the Black Codes, the Jim Crow years, sharecropping, the lynchings, burnings, castrations, segregation, degradation, oppression, stealing of property, poverty, red-lining, profiling, and discrimination. The list is endless. If America had truly recognized the emancipation of the slaves nearly a century and a half ago, today we would have a national holiday commemorating that freedom, say, like the Fourth of July. White Americans constantly tell black Americans to “get over it.” Will it take Americans another 300 years before we realize we’re all in this together? Pamela A. Hairston Washington, D.C.

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