HOW MUCH DATA DOES FDX GET IN PROGRAM?

HOW MUCH DATA DOES FDX GET IN PROGRAM?

I just read your article about FDX allowing customers access through their program (FedEx lets users ship with its rivals,'' Nov. 8, Page 19).

Does it allow FDX to gather data on all the customer's business? Remember, one of FDX Chairman and Chief Executive Fred Smith's mantras is, ''The information about the package is more valuable than the package itself.''In a e-commerce world, customers giving you all their shipment data (in exchange for a little pricing comparison or tracking data) sounds like a great deal for FDX.

DONALD BROUGHTON

Transportation analyst

A.G. Edwards & Sons

St. Louis

A HEADLINE

FINDS FAVOR

WITH READER

I thought the Page One article on the Automated Export System (''Proposal envisions required filing,'' Nov. 5), with its continuation on Page 6 titled ''Bill is step toward mandatory use of AEI,'' was a very good idea.

MICHAEL K. LORELLI

Vice president and chief development officer

AEI Darien, Conn.

SUBURBIA OWES

THE NEW DEAL'S

SOCIAL ENGINEERS

Brian Doherty's Nov. 4 opinion article, ''Clubbing America with the anti-sprawl agenda'' (Page 6), is an amusing and instructive example of how confused conservatives can get when forced to assess a real-world problem with a rigid ideology.

Doherty portrays Americans' yearning for a suburban existence as a natural right that they should be free to gratify through the mechanism of a free market in real estate and transportation.

But that is not how America's sprawling post-World War II suburbs developed.

The ''free choices'' that Doherty imagines were actually made for the American people by New Deal social engineers who used some of the largest federal-government subsidies on record to make suburban home ownership and its attendant automotive way of life possible.

The tax deduction on home mortgages and the no-down-payment mortgage for returning GIs created a whole new homeowner class where none had existed before.

Federal highway subsidies, which still are not recovered in this nation's scandalously low motor-fuel taxes, made driving artificially cheap while making urban transit look expensive.

Doherty laments that the Sierra Club's ''spelled out and mandatory'' land-use code would make Portland, Maine, look like Portland, Ore., and Seattle look like Miami.

Take another look. It's our suburbs, developed by federal bureaucrats in the mid-20th century, that look alike.

Our cities, developed solely by private money in the 18th and 19th centuries, retain their regional and local originality.

I agree with Doherty that people should be able to make free choices about where they live. I also believe they should pay the price of what they choose, not rely on federal subsidies to reduce the perceived cost of their choices.

If the federal government subsidized beef the way it subsidizes suburban land and driving, even vegetarians would eat an occasional hamburger.

F.K. PLOUS

Chicago