A recent item in The Washington Post said: "If the Japanese government has its way, it will be a no-jacket, nonecktie summer in Tokyo this year.
"In an effort to conserve energy, the government proposed the plan to allow people to work comfortably in reduced air-conditioning. Cabinet Minister Masumi Esaki said yesterday, however, that the measure has caused an uproar in the necktie industry, which claims such a measure will damage their business."
Howard Kenney of the National Alliance of Business in Hagerstown has sent me a copy of the item and a letter that says, "I know you've been an advocate of no neckties in the summer for some time. Do you suppose we could get the U.S. government to think along the same lines as the Japanese? It's been a losing battle up to now, but this year I'll bet you can get a lot of support because of the energy crisis."
Richard Allen Pence of Fairfax added, "Last year you promised that 'next year, if there is a next year,' you would use a photo of yourself without a tie during the summer months. Are you going to do it?"
Howard and Richard have good memories. I am indeed in rebellion against the notion that men must knot an expensive piece of cloth around their necks, even on a day when it's 98 in the shade and the relative stupidity is beyond belief. And I did promise to have a tieless picture taken this summer (if there is a summer this year). I still have a few more months left in which to think of a way to weasel out of that promise.
The cry that the necktie business would be hurt by a change in dress codes leaves me dry-eyed. Necktie makers, like the manufacturers of other items of clothing, arbitrarily decree changes in fashion that leave their customers with vast collections of expensive items they do not dare wear. Somebody might think the customer can't afford to throw away perfectly good articles of clothing that have suddenly been declared to be out of style.
In my case, they're right. I can't afford to throw away virtually new suits, shirts or ties and buy a new wardrobe each time an industry feels the need for higher profits.
Women learned decades ago that no law of God or man requires them to wear corsets, hoopskirts, bloomers, bras or anything else that doesn't suit them. If men are as smart as women, which I doubt, this year of energy shortages is the perfect opportunity for them to follow the example set for them by women.
The only problem is that we men may not yet be psychologically ready for men's lib.
And we're such stupid clods that I'm not sure we deserve to be liberated.
GOOD OLD CONGRESS
Tuesday's editions of this newspaper carried a story about a fund-raising letter mailed out by the Democratic National Committee on what we called "phony White House stationery."
I have myself received many such letters from both the Democractic and Republican committees and from splinter group allied with them.
In each case, the stationery and return addresses were designed to create the impression that a president, a vice president, a senator or a representative had written to me, personally.
Inasmuch as I have never contributed to either party, I don't know how I got to be such a "Dear Friend," but I guess when one is getting up a list of 1.5 million names, one can't be too selective.
One aspect of the current "White House" letter roused my curiosity. The envelope in which it arrived bore only 2.7 cents worth of postage -- the "nonprofit organization" rate.
Are the political conmittees permitted to use what's sometimes called the "charity" rate? They are, an official at the U.S. Postal Service verified. On Nov. 4, 1978, Congress passed PL 95-593 -- a law that gives national and state political committees the right to pay the rates permitted nonprofit organizations.
Now wasn't that real nice of Congress? A genuine charitable organization that takes a stand for or against a piece of legislation that threatens its existence can lose its status as a tax-exempt group. But political committees with detailed legislative programs can mail 1.5 million letters for $40,500 instead of the $225,000 you and I would have to pay at the 15-cent rate.
'BEING OF SOUND MIND'
Herm Albright likes actor Robert Redford's fine:
"The way I'd most like to be remembered is in somebody's will."