Our readers talk back.
Dear Mr. Black:
Jim Hightower is all wrong about Accenture in his column under the headline "A Tax-Dodging Freeloader" ["The Hightower Report," Sept. 6]. Not only are his comments irresponsible, they also perpetuate many mischaracterizations about my company that are potentially damaging.
Here are the facts about Accenture:
Accenture has been unfairly and inaccurately accused of "inverting" -- moving its place of incorporation from the United States to Bermuda to avoid paying U.S. taxes. In fact, Accenture is not and never has been U.S.-based or U.S.-operated, and has never avoided paying taxes on the income generated by its U.S. operations.
Accenture pays, and has always paid, its fair share of taxes in each of the 47 countries in which it generates income, including the United States. In fact, our disclosed effective tax rate is high compared with most companies.
When Accenture's parent company, Accenture Ltd., was first incorporated last year, the organization's 2,500 partners, more than half of whom are non-U.S. citizens, decided to incorporate in Bermuda. With thousands of partners and employees of many nationalities, it was important commercially and culturally for the organization to select a neutral location such as Bermuda for its parent company. Before incorporation, Accenture operated as a group of more than 40 locally owned partnerships coordinated through a Swiss-based entity.
The inference that Accenture has done something wrong in structuring and operating its business is simply untrue. Accenture's corporate structure and business practices are in full compliance with all international laws, and the national and local laws of each country in which it operates.
Like some critics, Mr. Hightower has also have tried to tarnish Accenture's reputation by misrepresenting our relationship with the Arthur Andersen accounting firm. Accenture and Arthur Andersen have been separate legal entities and have operated independently since 1989, a fact recognized by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in 1990. In August 2000, based on an arbitrator's decision in the International Chamber of Commerce proceedings commenced by Accenture in 1997, all remaining historical contractual ties between Accenture and Andersen Worldwide, and as a result, Arthur Andersen, were completely severed.
Accenture is a management consulting and technology services organization. It always has been. Accenture never has engaged in the practice of public accounting, and had no involvement in Arthur Andersen's audit services, including those provided to Enron.
Accenture was never part of the Andersen-Enron controversy. In fact, under the recently announced terms of the proposed settlement that Andersen Worldwide and the non-U.S. Andersen firms reached with plaintiffs in the Enron class-action lawsuits, Accenture and its affiliates will be released from all claims that were brought, or might have been brought, by these plaintiff groups. Accenture is making no contribution to the settlement.
Once approved by the court, the settlement should eliminate any risk of Accenture's exposure to future claims from the Enron class plaintiffs. This will settle the issue once and for all, and prove that Accenture was correct when it contends it had no relationship to Andersen's work for Enron.
Vote Against War
Thanks to Michael King for his astute comments ["Capitol Chronicle," Sept. 6] that "Bush and his illegitimate regime will be satisfied only with total war against Iraq."
With two Texas Republican senators who walk in lockstep with President Bush on virtually all issues, there is one fairly easy way to stop this headlong rush toward war and other people-unfriendly policies. That is by kicking out as many Republicans as possible during the upcoming state and national elections. That means voting Democrat and not green, blue, or red or whatever.
This November's elections are critical in that it is clear that if the Republicans win back their majority in the Senate and hold onto their lead in the House (something the party is spending big bucks to accomplish) there will be no stopping President Bush in doing exactly what he wants to do. This includes waging war, further destroying the environment, enacting policies that hurt the common folk while helping the rich get richer, favoring big businesses over consumers ... well, you've seen what was happening until Sen. Jeffords left the Republicans and gave the Democrats an edge in the Senate to put a brake on Republican "compassionate conservatism."
First, you must register to vote before the Oct. 11 cutoff. You can easily go online and register at https://ssl.capwiz.com/congressorg/nvra/. Then vote as if the world depended upon it.
Claude M. Gruener
Taking the Hard Line
Referring to Michael King's article, "Liars in Public Places" ["Capitol Chronicle," Sept. 6]: This type of thinking displayed, had it been around 60 years ago, would have portrayed the Japanese as the victims of U.S. foreign policy. Do not blame the starving in Iraq on the United States and the trade sanctions imposed by the U.N. The leadership in Iraq causes the "starving" in Iraq. They have managed to find all the money they need to upgrade their air defense systems, attempt to buy more SCUD missiles from Eastern Europeans and pay money to the families of terrorists. You can bet the Iraqi Republican Guard is well fed. As upsetting as this fact is to all the members of the blame-America-for-everything crowd, the United States is not responsible for the "starving" in Iraqi, Hussein is. Control of a person's ration card is a good way to keep him toeing the party line. You could buy a lot of medical supplies and food in the Middle East for the cost of SCUD missile.
Next is the statement by Mr. King that the United States practices nuclear blackmail in the Middle East. Had the U.S. ever engaged in such a practice there would have been no American hostages in Iran or Lebanon. I would submit that a less timid use of U.S. power then would have prevented many of the problems we faced then and face now. How many Soviets did you hear were held as hostages during the Brezhnev Doctrine despite the Soviet Union's invasion of an Arab [sic] country?
If a single individual can have the resources to make anthrax mail attacks it is not unlikely that Hussein, with the resources available to him, is close to having a WMD. You try to put down a rabid dog before it bites, not after, and a group-hug foreign policy is not going to change that.
Carl A. Anderson
Michael King responds: For the record, what I wrote was: "... only one nation on earth -- our own -- has ever subjected another to literal 'nuclear blackmail.'" The phrase refers not to the Middle East, but to the unilateral U.S. use of two atomic weapons against civilian targets in Japan, in part for the purpose of intimidating -- or "blackmailing" -- other nations that might contemplate deploying such weapons.
King, Keep On Keeping On
Thanks to Michael King for his "Capitol Chronicle" (September 6) on Bush, Cheney, and Iraq. It's that kind of straight thinking and plain speaking we sorely need and seldom get -- from Washington almost never. Keep on telling it like it is.
Louis H. Mackey
Dear Mr. King,
I agree with your statement that there are indeed "Liars in Public Places" ["Capitol Chronicle," Sept. 6]. But those liars are not the Bush Administration officials you are referring to in your editorial. The "liars" are left-wing wackos like you and people of your "ilk."
Calling VP Cheney a liar is weighty stuff. Yet, you present no evidence or proof that anything he said was actually false. Your anti-war ranting is nothing more than the garden-variety typical liberal Bush-bashing propaganda. Your statements are based on your twisted ideology, not on facts.
You stated, "even the notion that Hussein can acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon is absurd." In fact, many recent news reports have stated Iraq is very close to obtaining nuclear capabilities. Iraq already has chemical and biological weapons. Mr. King, are you totally oblivious to reality or do you know better and choose to lie?
You stated, "nobody much is buying ... the [Bush] administration's case for a pre-emptive assault on Iraq." Wrong again, Mr. King. Recently published polls show the majority of Americans support our president's actions in our war against terrorism and would support the ouster of Saddam Hussein provided Congress is consulted in advance. Again Mr. King, totally oblivious, or just a liar?
Your comments regarding arms inspectors in Iraq were equally ridiculous. Weapons inspectors were kicked out of Iraq during the Clinton administration, and Clinton did nothing. Now we are facing the consequences of having a president asleep at the wheel for eight years. There is no point in trying to negotiate a new deal with Saddam. He has already broken the UN Resolutions from 11 years ago. Why would you want to broker a new agreement with him when you already know you can't trust him to keep it?? Saddam is worse than Arafat!
Mr. King, I suppose if you were president, you would wait until more planes are crashed, more buildings are blown up, and thousands more Americans are killed before taking any action. My way of thinking says that sometimes the best defense is a good offense.
Keep 'Coach,' Can 'Fashion'
Here's a bold stroke for you: How about keeping Coach ["Page Two," Aug. 30], dumping that insipid and pretentious waste of space "After a Fashion," and introducing a new column about the rich culture and vibrant people of the Eastside?
Patrick J. Cosgrove
P.S. And as a resident of the Eastside, I'd be more than happy to give it a shot.
A Legacy Defiled
By dropping "Coach's Corner" you have pissed on the sacred ground of your journalistic ancestry.
May Wonder Wart Hog jump from the pages of The Ranger to implant his hideous snout in your pansy asses. May Raymond the Waiter wipe his hands with the Rag and serve you a live chicken-fried snake. May Big Boy Medlin send Travis Redfish to forever live on your sofa reading The Austin Sun.
You have defiled your legacy. You may as well move your office to Gateway Plaza and hold your editorial meetings at Starbucks!
Newman P. Stribling III
'Coach' of a Generation
Fools, Fools, Fools, Fools, Fools!
O, Damn Fools! What are you doing? You're terminating "Coach"? Grrrr! This is insane. He's the best thing you've ever had going for you among your slimy little, solipsistic selves. And you're taking two hefty paragraphs of precious "Page Two" space to try to defend and rationalize your dunderheaded move? Bah! I'll not buy any of it.
I've been gleeping freebie copies of the Chronicle since my advent to Austin 20 years ago (yes, I'm one of those scornful Damned Yankees), and steady reader of your rag that I've been, I've never been sufficiently moved to write a letter to you. I've suffered through your facetious, wrong-headed movie reviews. I've endured your juvenile reader polls and asinine "best of" lists. I've had patience with your usually awkward though well-intentioned backing of liberal causes and positions (I, myself, am a dedicated liberal), but the only times I've come close to writing a letter were when you dared to publish editions lacking "Coach's Corner," and then I wanted to write and say, "If no 'Coach's Corner,' please don't bother to publish that issue at all," but then you always managed to recover, and next Chron, there would be "Coach," and all would be well again in the world, a chance for you and me to go on as if interrupted.
"Coach" is unique, a delicate philosophical blend of a slant on sports and a slant on life -- plus a great writing style. These ingredients make for superb prose, prize-winning stuff. If anyone at your frail little rag ever had the potential of gleaning a Pulitzer, I daresay "Coach" was it. Why, pray tell, would you throw this possibility away?
Well, now, I'm sorry to see that you've gone over the edge. You've cut off your right arm and eliminated "Coach" for the sake of propagating "change." I've got a friend from New Hampshire, a locally famous and loyal Notre Dame fan, whom I rally with once a year and travel with to sporting events all over the country. He not too long ago uttered a great and memorable truth: "Change sucks!" You suck!, Chron management, for axing "Coach" and feebly attempting to defend your action as positive forward movement, as "change." Hide your heads in shame, stupardos!
P.S. Don't compound your dumb movements by driving the killing knife into "The Straight Dope." It's one of the very few good things you've got left.
P.P.S. Perhaps it's time to take a long vacation. You seem to be trying to operate under the throes of long-term stress. It may be time for you to seek the solace of a good sanitarium. We'll understand your absence and wish you a good recovery and a safe and sane return.
Where Are the Relevant Cover Stories?
I used to live in Austin. I have read the Chronicle for years. I just have one question for the two of you, with all due respect.
Mr. Barbaro, Mr. Black, have I missed something? Why, during all of this time since September 11, when our rights are being gutted and things in legislation (the Patriot Act, etc.) generally turning backward and not forward. Why, sirs, have I seen, for the most part, photos of folk and blues acts on the cover of your paper? I like folk and blues, but if that's your answer to this problem, I am left feeling a little insulted.
I've seen some local issues, maybe, but do you not feel a need to make this nationwide, worldwide problem of the U.S. foreign and domestic policies after Sept. 11 a focus? Forgive me. I really don't understand your keeping with the comfortable and nice. The Village Voice does a pretty good job of keeping all of the regressive things happening on the forefront. But where are you? If you consider yourself primarily an entertainment weekly, then I understand. If that's the case, forget all I have said and I apologize. I will expect nothing but folk and blues on the cover.
Thank you very much for your time,
Regarding Guy Juke's Ramones experience ["Pleasant Unpleasantries," Sept. 6], here are a few thoughts. First, copyright issues shouldn't be taken lightly. Someone creates something, it's theirs to sell as they see fit. Mr. Juke wonders who is telling the truth, the client or the designer. I think the answer is obvious. The client -- a major label that should know a thing or two about copyright law -- offers 250 bucks, and then goes on to say that the finished design won an award and was ready for distribution. Awards can't be won before publication, so if it won an award by the time of the conversation, the album -- and art -- was in circulation. And subject to copyright infringement.
Tibor Kalman, who died in 1999, was, to the best of my knowledge, as ethical as he was brilliant. His studio, M & Co., was known for the mineshaft-like credit roll on John Sayle's Matewan, Talking Heads album covers, and the creation of Benetton's controversial Colors magazine, which treated all cultures and peoples, all humanity, with respect and curiosity. I met Tibor in 1989, when he was strongly advocating the notion of being "bad" as a designer, and by that he meant being truthful in one's work, as compared to "go along to get along."
In 1981, when the Ramones cover was done, M & Co. was two years old. My guess is it was Kalman's experiences with clients that were willing to say "my way or the highway" that ultimately led Kalman to have a "no prisoners" approach to both design and business, where integrity and honesty were essential ingredients.
Now regarding "bastardization" and that uncredited cover, based on Norman Rockwell's self-portrait ...
Keep the faith,
Marc English, AIGA
Marc English Design
Always the art critic, eh? Guy's cover variation on a Norman Rockwell self-portrait appears Escher-esque you say ["Page Two," Sept. 6]? How Editor-esque of you. Thanks for the guidance.
Dear Mr. Black:
Regarding the paragraph on Richard Fonté on page 13 of the 8/30 issue, the phrase between dashes is inappropriate. If you're trying to imply a cause/effect relationship between his departure and his lack of popularity, then such a topic deserves a paragraph, or article, unto itself. Otherwise, it clutters up the sentence. Thank you.
Mahajan's Platform Simplistic
Dear Austin Chronicle:
Why does The Austin Chronicle continue to write up such misleading reviews of the Green Party's gubernatorial candidate, Rahul Mahajan?
Say the truth: the Green Party's nomination of the intemperate, America-hating Rahul Mahajan did the Green Party of Texas a severe disservice. Rahul's extraordinary stilted and simplistic political platform merely distills down to a categorical animus against all things American. In Mahajan's blinkered, Manichean world-view, America can do no right.
He also seems to show no patience with local issues -- interesting, considering he is running for a state-level office ...
While the Green Party's goal was to inject neglected issues into the larger political discourse, it is now fielding a gubernatorial candidate who will succeed only in turning people off to politics. Ask the "war criminal" himself -- Henry Kissinger.
In fact, Mahajan's outspoken disrespect for democratic tolerance makes him an odd choice to run for a democratically elected office. He reminds me of Pol Pot, another manic dreamer infused with that Hitlerian mix of supreme righteousness and disregard for democratic diversity and dissent.
As responsible leftists, you should be alert to the totalitarian impulse among your ideological kinsfolk. You should remember the totalitarian impulse comes not from good folks reacting to the evil of this world, but from neurotic people reacting to the disturbances in their own minds.
Good leftists must always be vigilant for those radicals who see the political arena as a place to work out their personal demons.
But much worse than those using "politics as psychotherapy" are those who are inherently hateful, and who delight in the destruction of good, strong, and noble things. People like Mahajan.
I strongly urge The Austin Chronicle to review Mahajan's public declarations with the same degree of critical rigor as is applied to real estate developers and Republicans.
John A. Wielmaker
Death Penalty = No International Games
I would like to make the following comments regarding your Aug. 30 article ["No Sports, Lots of Spin"]. When voters choose cities or countries in highly competitive bidding processes for international sporting events, they rarely reveal all the reasons why they choose one city or country over another. Instead, they often prefer to give polite, diplomatic answers. Of course a Nexis database search on why voters chose Rio de Janeiro over San Antonio for the 2007 Pan American Games will likely retrieve secondhand information. One might get firsthand information by calling delegates directly.
It is sound reasoning by Mr. Cobb that Gov. Perry did not help San Antonio with his refusal to act on international criticism of this state's use of the death penalty. The timing of the San Antonio rejection as a Pan Am game choice, on the heels of Mexican President Fox's boycott of Texas to protest the execution of Mexican citizen Javier Suarez Medina, is hard to ignore. Cobb draws a reasonable conclusion here, and it is likely Houston was eliminated as a possible Olympic site for the same reason. In the current international climate, Texas cities will face continued international criticism because most of the rest of the world considers the Texas death penalty bizarre, unjust, racist, and barbaric.
The death penalty is a fiery topic, and it is reasonable to assume that voters would most likely avoid public acknowledgments of any controversial reasons for their choices but private discussions will eventually surface. Mr. Cobb provided a sound perspective on the events of the day. The state's blatant disregard of international law will continue to cost this state millions for such a barbaric practice.
Welcome to 'Anytown,' U.S.A.
I am strongly opposed to granting "Smart Growth" incentives (2.2 million of our tax dollars in fee waivers) to Schlosser Development's proposed Sixth and Lamar project. There are several reasons why.
There is a strong likelihood that this project, which includes the national chain Borders Books and Music, would put locally owned BookPeople and Waterloo Records out of business. National chain stores have the capital resources to offer discounts locally owned stores cannot, and it has been shown time and again that they drive out local businesses.
The vision of an Austin that allows any and all "big box" chain stores into all areas of the city is disturbing.
Clone businesses will make Austin look like "Anytown," U.S.A. Does that improve our quality of life? And because Austin attracts visitors especially because of its uniqueness, think of how many tourist dollars will be lost if that happens.
More of Austin's money will leave the community. On average, 80% of a chain store's intake goes out of town to distant corporate headquarters. Compare that to 84% which would stay in the community of a locally owned business.
Buying options -- determined only by potential profit -- will be drastically reduced. Unique local goods will no longer be available. Local artists, suppliers, and service businesses will be denied outlets for their goods and services because chain stores deal only with large pre-ordained suppliers.
Lastly, the personalized service of a locally owned business will be sorely missed. Think of the help that you get when entering a local hardware store versus a chain superstore.
An episode of The Simpsons illustrates with humorous irony the position many growing towns are in. In it several of the stalwart old ex-business owners of the town are in the predicament of being job "trainees" in a large chain store that has come to put them all out of business.
Nationally owned chain stores are a reality and part of the way we now do business. We must leave room for locally owned businesses to flourish however, and we can assure this through the choices we make through the legislative process and our buying power. Choose wisely.
S. Marie D'Orazio
9/11, a Good Political Diversion
Like many others in this nation I too went through the sadness and grief after 9/11.
However, after two weeks of grief I realized I needed to go on with my life, that in this world "shit happens" and is going to keep happening as long as human nature is the way it is.
This current revival of 9/11 to me is nothing but a pep rally for an attack on Iraq and the ongoing "War on Drugs."
The right-wing politicians are playing on people's emotions so they can get a popular mandate for their agenda. And though they may fool some of the people some of the time, they're not fooling all the people all of the time.
It is also a good diversion from the corporate screwings to consumers, investors, and laborers that have happened in recent years in this country.
And I swear, if I hear "Amazing Grace" played on bagpipes one more time, I'm going to vomit!
Gregory J. Gauntner
Turn off the TV!
My experience of the bombing of the World Trade Center was vicarious; it can never be as visceral as it was for the millions of Manhattanites who were right there. What makes my guts wrench are images of our president, vice-president, and secretary of state decrying the terrorists -- what maggot-filled monsters and liars!
To avoid said lackeys of the corporate godz, I am commemorating the 11th of September, 2001, by a total media blackout during the next week. I intend to keep my outrage fresh and not have it diluted from the barrage of tributes by which America is about to be assaulted.
Kenney C. Kennedy
Don't Flush the 'Dope'
Dear Mr. Black,
I just read your "Page Two" [Aug. 30] column, and I have to admit it is the first time I have ever read it. Nevertheless, it informed me that you are considering discontinuing "The Straight Dope." Please don't!!! I understand that it is not an Austin original, as you mentioned in your brief. I was born and raised here in Austin and have been a rabid "Keep Austin Weird" supporter for the past 22 years. However, "The Straight Dope," along with "Mr. Smarty Pants Knows," has kept me informed about odd tidbits and answered all the questions I never knew I had since I discovered the Chronicle my freshman year of high school. In short, discontinue it only if you think no one except for me is reading it. But if you are considering giving "The Straight Dope" the axe just because it originates from Chicago, then consider this: Some things fit in perfectly here in Austin, even though they are from elsewhere. Stevie Ray Vaughan, the bats under Congress, Janis Joplin.
John R. Smolik
Give Me Liberty & Constitution
The straight party line vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee against confirming Justice Priscilla Owen to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based on ideology rather than merit, represents nothing less than a blatant attempt by the one-vote majority in the Senate to overturn the Constitution and institute parliamentary government, with the Senate dictating the choice of both judges and department heads throughout the executive branch.
President Bush promised to appoint "strict constructionists" to fill court vacancies, but Priscilla Owen is hardly a strict constructionist. There is probably not a strict constructionist, faithful to the Constitution, sitting on any bench anywhere in the country. If she were, it is likely even all of the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee would have voted against confirming her.
It is all about money. Complying with the Constitution doesn't buy votes. Violating it does. Almost every elected official in Washington owes his or her election to the votes of constituents bought by unconstitutional acts of government. The last thing statists want is a constitutionalist judge.
Political corruption begins with every voter who votes for his pocketbook instead of for what's good for the country, and that means for the Constitution. There is no moral difference between a politician who sells his vote, and a voter who sells his, for some promised economic benefit.
If you love the liberty our forefathers died for, vote for the Constitution in November.
Libertarian candidate for Texas Attorney General
Not Another Vietnam
To Whom It May Concern;
I am writing in regard to George Bush and his need for war. May I suggest simply that we first find the Atlanta Olympics bomber in our own country before we even attempt to find Osama bin Laden in his area of the world?
Secondly, let us all be aware that three-quarters of the hijackers that took down the World Trade Center were from Saudi Arabia. If we are so intent on war, may we go to the source of the problem rather than focusing our rage and revenge on Iraq? Many times (on television and in print) I have heard the Saudis scoff at Americans, and I wonder why we overlook that fact in the name of oil and our "need for it."
Having lost many friends in the Vietnam conflict, I do not want to see us repeat the mistake of being so naive as to lose our sons and daughters to a foe we don't understand and cannot outwit.
Think about it.