The Upward Price Spiral Letters
Letters in response appeared in the June and July 2011 issues:
The upward price spiral
Editor: In John Atkinson's very appropriate column on "The Upward Price Spiral" of audio gear ("As We See It," April 2011), he seemed to accept the inevitability of growing income inequality, although, to be fair, he did not seem to feel it was necessarily a good thing. There is certainly a lot of merit in his solution: that companies continue to make quality products at an affordable price. Certainly, from my point of view, there is no need to apologize for reviewing $300 speakers. When I still had a good middle-class job, I bought Vandersteens. Now, if I ever buy any audio gear again, it will be something like the Wharfedale Diamond 10.1s reviewed in the same issue.
I do feel a need to respond directly to the economic issues he raised, however. He quoted Prof. Andrew Caplin and Senator Rand Paul on the need to accept inequality as a fact of life, without much comment beyond saying that they seem to have a point. Please allow me to name a few dissenting voices: Nobel Prizewinning economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman have written extensively on why they believe that our level of wealth inequality cannot be sustained, at least not in a healthy democracy.Roberto Keim, Talent, OR
The rise of the weekend
Editor: John Atkinson was certainly correct in pointing out Henry Ford's importance in helping establish "the American middle class" ("The Upward Price Spiral," April, p.3). But it is imperative that readers of Stereophile recognize another figure equally as important. Walter Reuther fought Henry Ford with word and deed in helping establish the United Auto Workers.
On May 26, 1937, the famous "Battle of the Overpass" set goons working for Henry Ford with club and truncheon against Reuther and his men outside the Ford Rouge Complex, sending Reuther to the hospital. Two subsequent attempts on Walter Reuther's life (no one knows who was responsible) resulted in the loss of the use of his right arm. Reuther ultimately brought 1.5 million workers into the UAW and, along with other notable union organizers around the country, helped bring Americans the "weekend," without which all the speakers, amplifiers, and other high-, medium-, and low-end components would have been superfluous. Leonard Natinsky, firstname.lastname@example.org
Structure and form
Editor: I wanted you to know how much I appreciated John Atkinson's piece in the April Stereophile about "The Upward Price Spiral" and what it might mean. He really grasped the underlying economics, and presented it in a way that I think everyone can understand. I think that I'd had similar thoughts in the past, but they were unformed and amorphous; he gave those thoughts structure and form. It was a truly great piece of magazine writing.Michael A. Bruno, email@example.com
Thank you, Mr. Bruno. Mr. Natinsky: I am not unaware of the work of Walter Reuther, nor was I trying to portray Henry Ford in a false light. But I do feel that it was Ford's more-than-doubling of the American daily wage in 1914 that catalyzed the nascent growth of the middle class in this country. And I agree with you, Mr. Kein, that the current level on income inequality in the US is unsustainable. John Atkinson