The Atlantic— never a bad publication, rarely to be charged with mediocrity, and usually excellent — has risen to superb heights in its extraordinarily effective, myth-dispelling issue of January, 1963. I wonder if you deliberately selected Carl Jung, Murray Friedman, Cecil Woodham-Smith, John K. Fairbank, Clarence Randall, and John Doe for presentation in one issue.
I used to fancy myself as fairly well informed of English and Irish affairs, but Cecil Woodham-Smith’s brilliant and graphic account of the Irish famine in the 1840s in ”Ireland’s Hunger, England’s Fault?” makes me aware of how utterly without understanding and sympathy I was.
Clarence Randall’s “When You Fire Him” and the anonymous Mr. Doe’s “The Coming Tax Reform” ruthlessly and daringly bang a few clichés on the head and turn the light on problems which touch every one of us.
Despite the diversity of subject matter there is a compelling unity of principle in all these articles. Whether or not you intended it, you have achieved in this issue a remarkable little compendium of progressivism. My congratulations.
JOHN W. PUTNAM
Cecil Woodham-Smith’s article “Ireland’s Hunger, England’s Fault?” is incomparable. It jarred me from any sense of complacency. For the first time I have been able to grasp the significance of the Irish potato famine and why the Irish hate the English. Finally, this article has forever eliminated any further interest in the laissez-faire doctrine of economics.
HOWARD D. BLANK
Your favorable comments in the Washington Report in the January Atlantic on the President’s handling of the Cuban crisis are of interest.
To me the ultimate error in this nuclear age is the precipitation of war. Mr. Kennedy was prepared to commit this error. A number of the group that made the final decision, I have read, voted to make an air strike against Cuba. It appears that Mr. Stevenson, in his maturity, suggested that there was a more reasonable approach to the crisis.
The area of the American press and TV that I have been exposed to has without exception commended the President and leveled no criticism at those men favoring an air strike. The great criticism was against the voice of moderation.
The really frightening thought is that in the next crisis the President will be “ready and willing” again, and next time the results might not be so happy.
For many months, as I have read the Atlantic, I have been tempted frequently to express the views of a teen-age reader concerning some of the interesting articles that have appeared. After reading John Keats’s “Ask the Man Who Doesn’t Own One” in the December Atlantic, I found it impossible to resist this temptation any longer.
Mr. Keats did an excellent job of pointing out the many advantages of renting an automobile and answered most of the arguments that might be raised by the proponents of private ownership of the valuable machine. However, he failed to consider one aspect, perhaps that which is most important to many teen-agers and countless adults as well — the automobile as a symbol of status.
Although we live in an area where trains are nonexistent and buses inadequate, for over ten years we have lived quite happily without a car. So we were pleased to learn, from reading John Keats’s article, approximately how much we have saved annually. Taxi fares are reasonable here; the drivers we have known are not only excellent drivers, but courteous, helpful, and usually interesting. We feel a lot safer riding in a cab than we do in a private car; in very bad weather a cab will bring the children from school, and we know they are safe.
MRS. J. T. REAY
The article “The Coming Tax Reform” by John Doe in the January Atlantic should be extremely valuable in awakening the conscience of our legislators and informing the public. It is a revealing synopsis of all that has been presented concerning the inequities in our tax structure, and as the conclusions of a lawyer, intimately involved with the question from the standpoint of big business, it is truly authoritative.
The disheartening core of his thesis lies in his statement: “there is no public-interest lobby. . . . Even though the necessary effect of reducing one group’s taxes is to thrust that much more of the burden of government on all the other taxpayers, the millions who foot the bill seldom notice, or even know about, the change.”
Enlightened or ignorant, how does one overcome apathy?
GEORGE HELLER, M.D.