Heavens to Betsy! You have now confused and unsettled me to the point that I cannot write a column for the Thursday paper. In fact, I can't even spell Thursday.
I was brought up to believe that sex is Topic A and money is Topic B, but that order of priority appears to be changing. Your recent comments indicate that money is becoming, or has already become, Topic A.
A colleague in the newsroom said to me, "I'm surprised you haven't mentioned the analogy between money and air. It's so obvious. Both are cheap and plentiful. Regardless of your lung capacity or income, whatever you inhale you must exhale; whatever you take in you must put out. You can't do without the next breath or the next paycheck. The total volume of the pass-through is astonishing. And it's as hard to find clean money as clean air. Just look at your greenbacks. Have you ever seen anything as filthy?"
I don't know and can't check. I'll ask my wife. She abhors dirty pictures, except on $20 bills.
If you can stand a little bragging, I'd like you to know that quality folks read this column. A perceptive personal letter has been received from Sen. Barry Goldwater, and there is indication that at least two District Liners also read The Wall Street Journal.
One of the two phoned to say, "If you'd like to know what ticks off the average American voter, take a look at the Wall Street Journal for April 3. On page 15 there's a full-page ad for Fireman's Fund American Life Insurance Co. It wants to sell life insurance policies on which companies 'pay all the corporate LifeCycle premiums with tax deductible dollars' that benefit high-paid executives. 'There's little, if any, tax liability for you,' the ad says. 'You continue to get lifetime protection without any personal premium cost.' On page 13, there is a full-page ad that carries a headline that shouts, 'Pay Zero Taxes!' How do you think the typical wage-slave feels when he reads things like this and knows that his government is not only taxing every cent he makes but taking it away from him before he ever gets his hands on it?"
I'll take the Fifth Amendment on that one, Mr. Chairman. My description of how the average taxpayer feels is not something Kay Graham would want to see spelled out in gross language in her family newspaper.
Our other WSJ reader writes, "There was a story in the Journal today that said higher gasoline prices are doing untold harm to state gas taxes, toll revenues, motel receipts, retail gas station income and state tax revenues. The story said, 'Many states are suffering serious declines in their gasoline-tax revenues, and many are wondering how they are going to maintain the roads they have, let alone build new ones. Many turnpikes and bridges that depend on tolls for debt servicing and maintenance are far behind last year's takings.' You have defended and been an apologist for the Carter administration. How do you reconcile what the Journal says and what you say?"
If you can get the White House to agree that I have been an apologist for Carter, I will attempt to answer that question.It's a wonder to me that the White House did not long ago put out a Mafia contract on me. Few endorsements are less welcome than those that begin, "He ain't much, but he seems to be the best we have."
I have said that except for Carter's born-again faith in human nature and his reluctance to punish transgressors, he has not been as effective as a despot might have been. If that's being an apologist, put the cuffs on me. I'm guilty.
An acerbic postcard from W.M.O'C says, "Please thank all of the companies that have frozen their prices at the highest level ever known to western man. Don't tell Esther Peterson, because she means well and is doing the best she can, but these manifestations of patriotism remind me of the companies that thought they were patriotic when they offered their merchandise at 'CEILING PRICES!' during World War II. Think about that for a moment. They wanted applause for selling at the ceiling, the highest price permitted by law.
"That's where prices have now been frozen, and that's why we're being offered double-coupon 'bargains.' Prices were raised to ridiculous levels in anticipation of a wage-price freeze. Now illogical price cuts are being offered.
"I would like to make a suggestion:
"Ask the heads of all these patriotic companies to take a day off and go out into the countryside to think. With no pressure from stockholders, banks or mortgage holders, ask them to think what their reaction would be, as consumers, to advertisements that offer goods at prices frozen at the highest levels ever known. Would these astute businessmen be the first to buy?"
I don't know. This unsophisticated buyer has the seat-of-the-pants feeling that now might be a good time to say, "Is that the best you can offer, pal? I'll have to think it over."