"The Executive Life" (Special Report, Aug. 23-30) has a lot of fun-to-read articles, and I'm a regular American who likes all those things. But I think you missed an important part of the executive life. It affords us the work experience, connections, and financial resources to be active participants in the philanthropic causes we find most compelling. That is the best benefit of all.
I do not doubt the stress of executive positions, but there are countless people working long days at stressful jobs for annual salaries that would buy just a week or two at one of your recommended getaways. You might better address the impact of slashed retirement plans or examine alternative jobs for skilled workers who are suddenly unemployed at age 50.
In the fall of 1996, BusinessWeek featured an article on the newly designed Corvette, the C-5. I put one in my garage in 1997. When your current issue arrived, I quickly flipped to "Cars to Love," expecting to see some fancy import, but WHOA!: a double-page, sixth-generation red Corvette. The fall debut is just around the corner. And so is my birthday.
The frequencies recommended in "Checkup checklist" seemed a bit liberal ("The executive life: Health, Aug. 23-30). For example, with the aggressive strains of HPV, a pap smear every three years seems like an incredibly long stretch. At 26, I went from completely healthy to carcinoma in situ in less than seven months. Had I been on a three-year schedule, it would have most likely been invasive and spread before it was ever noticed. I cannot speak to the other tests, but I would urge everyone, regardless of their perceived risks, to check with their physicians about the necessary frequency of these checkups.
West Orange, N.J.
Except for the subhead "You can get most of what you need by eating right. Beyond that, be cautious," John Carey's otherwise informative and balanced story on "Vitamins" would have missed out on valuable nutrition information. For example, they wouldn't have learned about the recommendation to take a multivitamin, or the benefits of B vitamins in preventing birth defects and heart disease, or the critical need for more vitamin D.
And although we wholeheartedly support the goal of nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day, reality suggests that, despite everyone's best efforts, Americans still fall short of the ideal diet. Vitamins and other dietary supplements have an important role to play in preventing disease and promoting good health.
Annette Dickinson, President
Council for Responsible Nutrition
Editor's Note: The Council represents the dietary-supplement industry.
I found much of "The Executive Life" very interesting. "Fitness" states that a home workout means no waiting. I have been doing the same exercise routine twice a week since September, 1977, and the only way I could fit it into my schedule is by doing it at home. From the time my alarm clock goes off, I am beginning my workout. I finish 32 minutes after I start. By the way, equipment does not need to cost $5,500. I bought my weights from a friend 35 years ago for $5 and the bench from Target for $19. My running shoes cost $160.
Simi Valley, Calif.
Amy Borrus' "Brokers aren't advisers" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Aug. 23-30) was a great story, and the problems are larger and deeper than she indicated. Almost every single broker-dealer firm requires clients to sign mandatory National Association of Securities Dealers arbitration agreements. The standard that the NASD holds brokers to is suitability. NASD arbitration is final, the only legal recourse for clients. A second problem is with a broker who is a certified financial planner (CFP). This group has codes of conduct and ethical requirements, one of which is that the CFP practitioner is a fiduciary. Brokers who are CFPs hold themselves out as fiduciaries, but when push comes to shove, the only legal standard they are held to is suitability. I would suggest that the CFP Board of Standards is playing both sides. One cannot be a fiduciary if they cannot be legally held to the standard.
Redondo Beach, Calif.
There is a serious misunderstanding about the role of taxation in "Sizing up John Kerry's battle plan," (Readers Report, Aug. 23-30). A reader states: "It's not the government's money -- it's your money. Let's not forget that." Taxes pay for national security; for things such as clean air and water; for education and arts; for science and infrastructure; and for the safety to enjoy them. In times of natural disasters and hardship, taxes help those in desperate need. Taxes are just not something we pay. They are an investment we are required to make. The return is tremendous. Taxes are the dues we pay as members of the greatest club in the world. "Your money" does not exist in a vacuum. It is part of the nation's economy.
People were taxed for thousands of years before this republic was born. Our founders added the important element of "no taxation without representation." This simple principle speaks of the democratic ideal in economic terms. Fair taxation is honest. Paying fairly is patriotic. To the letter from that reader, I respond: It's not your money's government; it's your government. For an Administration to offer representation without taxation, whether to wealthy individuals, business, or churches, runs contrary to the foundation of American democracy.
Editor's note: The writer is not related to the former Federal Reserve chairman.