LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Insurers Can Work

Under Any SystemA story in the insurance section of the July 29 JofC entitled, Pennsylvania Coalition Plans to Fight Tort Reform," reported that tort reform legislation to limit the liability of insurers will be opposed by public interest lobby groups.

This was the lead sentence, and appears to be the reporter's summary of the matter, rather than a quote of the "Pennsylvania Public Interest Coalition." At least there was no other attribution or hint that this was the way the coalition characterized the issue.

Someone confuses the liability that society chooses to impose on itself - called the civil justice system - with how members of society choose to protect their assets in the event they are sued for negligence. Restricting the right to sue or capping awards or any other change in the civil justice system that society might decide is appropriate limits the liability of potentially negligent parties. Whether they carry insurance has nothing to do with their actual liability for negligent acts.

Placing limits on the public's future liability is neither favorable nor unfavorable to the liability exposure that insurance companies choose to accept. We can operate under any civil justice system society is willing to bear, as long as we're allowed to charge prices commensurate with the risk, and as long as the judiciary does not retroactively expand the insurance coverage beyond our policies' written intent.

A. Kent Shamblin Vice President Corporate Affairs St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. St. Paul, Minn.

Transportation Stories

Useful, Informative

The July 15 issue of the JofC included an "Outlook of Transportation Legislation in Congress" and an article headlined, "Transportation Bills Relegated to Dry Dock." Both covered sensitive, complex legislative issues. Both presented a fair, balanced picture in a useful, informative manner.

I suspect that many of us on all sides of these controversial issues have clipped out these articles to use as a handy reference. I commend you and The Journal of Commerce on a job well done.

Daniel L. Lang Vice President Information & Public Affairs Association Of American Railroads Washington, D.C.

Japanese Motives

On Fighters Queried

Regarding your July 30 Asia View column entitled, Appreciating the Middle Ground," one must wonder what motive the Japanese could possibly have in wanting to go their own way in developing high-tech fighter aircraft from the ground up.

What circumstance do they foresee or imagine that would prevent them from being able to use U.S.-supplied aircraft, the best in the world? Why would they wish to spend literally billions of dollars to duplicate domestically the technology base that all ready exists in this country?

The United States is fully capable of supplying to the Japanese whatever military hardware they may require for their legitimate defense needs, and given the current state of the trade deficit, one would certainly think that both governments would view this as one important area where cooperation would benefit both parties.

The fact that the Japanese may wish to develop their own defense industries is to me, very disturbing. One must wonder if the dream of the ''Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" is really dead, or if it is just on "hold" for another generation. Given our recent experience with the Asian mind in Vietnam with particular reference to the Asian propensity for long- range goals, we should ask ourselves just what it is that the Japanese are seeking to accomplish 10, 15 and 20 years down the road. We should not forget that when the Japanese paid their visit to Pearl Harbor in 1941, they came out of the sky in recycled American beer cans and automobiles formed into mighty weapons, and the margin of our victory and their defeat was as slender as a whisker.

Do the Japanese behave as true allies, as a nation truly at peace with itself and with the rest of the world, having renounced once and forever war as an instrument of foreign policy, or does the code of Bushido yet live, below the surface and away from Western eyes but still a vibrant force in the Japanese character?

Jeffrey L. Moss Louisville, Ga.

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