Who runs US economy - politicians or bankers?

Regarding "World's new financial monarchs" (March 11): It's difficult to embrace the idea that the US economy is increasingly run solely by central bankers.

Throughout the 1980s, excessive fiscal stimulus brought on by tax cuts and defense spending drove the Federal Reserve to counterbalance the trend with high interest rates and tight money policies.

With the Bush administration, tax increases and aggressive military downsizing led to the recession of the early 1990s. Tax increases and spending reductions pursued even more aggressively under the Clinton administration placed the federal budget on a clear trajectory toward a fiscal surplus.

In the face of concerns about deflation, the Fed was forced to abandon its high-interest policies, resulting in a buoyant economy and full employment. A looming federal surplus, combined with a global recession, continues to force the Fed into maintaining low interest rates.

The current teamlike interaction between the Fed and the White House hardly suggests that the role of fiscal policy in the United States has been diminished.

Eugene Mullaly, San Diego, Calif.

The author apparently has forgotten about the powerful bankers of the Italian Renaissance city-states, and such bankers in Northern Europe in the 16th century as the Fuggers or Augsburgs. There is really nothing new about bankers reigning over politicians, i.e. the state. It's at least 500 years old.

Albert L. Weeks, Sarasota, Fla.

Keeping manners in their place "Manners for lunching with a lord and lady" (March 10) made some good points. However, I feel that advising children not to speak until spoken to is too stringent.

Adults are often insensitive to things that interest children in conversation. Allowing the little ones to spontaneously contribute to the social atmosphere is too important to ignore. Interesting discussions can arise out of their curiosity and innocence.

Children need not be dull to be polite.

Ruth J. Carney, Puyallup, Wash.

Brilliant! We grandparents are so grateful for this beautifully written article and for the inspiration it included. Many thanks to the Monitor for seeing the value in this article and sharing it. It will remain on the refrigerator door for all our adult children to read and perhaps give them a reason to teach manners and consideration of others' feelings.

Ann Botts, Banning, Calif.

Nice or not? Just a brief footnote to Marilyn Gardner's stimulating column on "niceness" ("The ultimate put-down - 'Sorry, you're too nice,'" March 17). I enjoyed her comments very much, but thought I would point out that "nice" as used by Oliver Goldsmith probably meant "discriminating," "fastidious," or even "fussy" in the British English of the time. Thus Goldsmith, in his comment about Edmund Burke, might have intended some criticism both of Burke and of statesmen in general. He may not have simply intended to praise Burke for his friendliness or kindness.

Thomas Madden, La Grande, Ore.

What's in a description

Regarding "The impact of the 'three strikes' laws" (March 8): The author referred to the Justice Policy Institute as a "left-leaning" research institution but did not refer to the proponents of the law as "right wing" or even "conservative." "Left-leaning" seems a perjorative term, reminiscent of "commie" or "pinko." If it's relevant to the story, it would seem appropriate to describe institutions in neutral terms as liberal or conservative.

Ruth A. Blizard, Vestal, N.Y.

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