If one had the time to plough through this material and make sense of it, all might be well, but unfortunately the initiatives themselves are often badly worded, and the accompanying arguments consist largely of hectoring obfuscations by highly partisan advocates with little interest in reasoned discussion. (The guide does not reveal how the drafters of arguments are selected.)
As your correspondent Grant Cogswell, of Seattle, pointed out, the initiative process can be used to good effect, but in California it is more frequently abused.
At the end of "'Discovering' Young Poets" (June Atlantic), Peter Davison muses about the current value of "all male" poet elders "discover[ing] the young," who he mentions are "more than one third female." I was reminded of the May announcement of The Atlantic's Student Writers' Competition winners, three fourths of whom, I noted, were female. Perhaps the sap and wit of late-twentieth-century male talent is being drained by the ever-rising cost-versus-benefit ratio of a liberal-arts education.
Daniel S. Moore
The Atlantic Monthly. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; September 1998; Letters; Volume 282, No. 3; pages 12-21.