William Hawkins (January 1990) is right on target when he states, “American society is far more interested in present consumption than future growth.” I am not sure, however, that “intervention to curtail imports” (whatever that means) is necessarily the answer. Surely dollar devaluation was a political, not a market, “solution”—and that didn’t work out very well. More recently, our legislators have raised taxes on capital gains (read: inflation), a move that hardly makes savings more attractive than consumption. What inflation itself does to savings needs no elaboration here. Tariffs and import quotas merely invite manufacturers to remain fat, dumb, and lazy—at consumer expense.

In short, I have no confidence in politicians’ ability to intervene in any useful or constructive manner. Their main talent seems to be for doing the wrong thing at the worst possible time. That being the case, I heartily applaud Hawkins’ call for tax cuts to encourage savings and investment. To the extent that such a move would reduce the politicians’ power and get them off our backs, it really could help.

        —Charles Chandler
Maiden, MA