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The High Court Wasn't Kind To Small Business

"The Supreme Court: Open for business" (News & Insights, July 9/16) described the court's term as "a banner year for business" and noted "the business community's" approval, but those phrases may mislead. Global corporations like Philip Morris (MO), Ford, and Goodyear (GT) certainly were well served, but not necessarily America's independent businesses.

At least two antitrust rulings increase the potential for large corporations to undermine genuine market competition, driving out smaller businesses. Another ruling vindicated federal preemption of state banking laws, which will reduce obstacles to multistate banks gaining even greater market share from smaller competitors.

Jeff Milchen

Co-founder, American Independent Business Alliance.

Bozeman, Mont.

The ratio of doctors to patients in the U.S. was suggested as being very low ("The French lesson in health care," Health, July 9/16). But no mention was made as to why that might be. Unlike the high-tech industry, where H1-B visas are granted for immigrant workers, the medical profession seems to be tightly controlled by the American Medical Assn. or some other organization. Even the medical degrees of doctors from some countries are not recognized. Doctors from India must do a residency for five years before they can start practicing. Even when the doctors are experienced, such restrictions are placed on them. Such deterrents ensure that supply is always lower than demand.

Sanjeev Jain

Woburn, Mass.

Why are we spending 16.5% of gross domestic product on health care in the U.S., vs. 10.7% in France, to get infant mortality rates that are higher and life expectancy that is shorter? Why do the French receive more health services at lower cost than Americans? Profligate spending on U.S. physicians would seem to be the answer.

Unfortunately, this isn't a clue to a cure. U.S. physicians earn about 20% of the U.S. health dollar, a figure that has remained stable for decades. If every American physician could somehow be induced to work for nothing, the U.S. health bill would drop to 13.2% of GDP. Relative U.S. health spending with unpaid doctors would remain significantly higher than the French 10.7%.

A pay cut of two-thirds for U.S. physicians brings their salaries in line with French doctors, but that's unrealistic and doesn't do enough. Cutting costs in U.S. health care requires a far broader brush.

Dr. Philip R. Alper

Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Burlingame, Calif.

I would like to clarify ExxonMobil's campus recruitment practices ("The Professor is a headhunter," Investigations, July 9/16). As part of our commitment to hiring talented graduates to help meet global energy demand, ExxonMobil visits select university campuses to interview prospective exployees and hold discussions with faculty. At all times during these visits, ExxonMobil recruiters comply with university recruiting policies.

These discussions enable us to identify students who may have an interest in a career with our company while also giving us the opportunity to offer our views to universities on the curricula that will best equip students to build successful careers in the energy industry.

ExxonMobil has been a long-standing financial supporter of education in the U.S. In 2006 the corporation and its charitable arm, the ExxonMobil Foundation, provided over $32 million to U.S. universities and colleges. At universities where we have a recruiting presence, these funds are provided to university departments in the form of unrestricted grants. The grants are never provided for referring students to ExxonMobil.

Ken Cohen

Vice-President, Public Affairs

Exxon Mobil Corp.

Irving, Texas

Your alarmist article on kids' salons/spas is laughable ("What next, bubblegum Botox?" UpFront, July 2). Have you never played dress-up as a little girl or borrowed your mom's high heels and lipstick? Comparing harmless fun to the likes of rehab queens does nothing but put BusinessWeek in the same league as Star and In Touch.

Furthermore, these salons do not just cater to girls. I take my two sons to Sweet & Sassy in Southlake, Tex., and I can barely drag them out of there. They love the funhouse mirrors where they don firemen uniforms, not to mention ogling all the boy toys, such as slimy critters, astronaut pens, and potty putty. Gee, how disappointing that such "catering" to them will lead them to the fate of Paris Hilton.

Paula Reak Joyce

Southlake, Tex.

Just who is the loan shark? ("Micro finance draws mega players," Finance, July 9/16). Charging the most vulnerable people 30% interest or more is unconscionable. If the borrower were an owner of a large company with lots of assets needing millions of dollars, the interest charged that person would be very low, 4% to 8% perhaps. In the case of people who are trying to get ahead by starting a microbusiness and only need $150, these venture capitalists and other big investors look to make a tidy profit and take advantage of women and children the world over.

Marget Ferguson, AFO

Micro Business Development Program, Central Vermont Community Action

Barre, Vt.

I retired from Ford Motor a few years ago and am still very proud of the Company. So, naturally, I was a little disappointed by the tone of your article "Staying paranoid at Toyota" (The Corporation, July 2). It is one thing to present an article praising Toyota for their efforts to avoid complacency, but to suggest that the domestic automakers have trod the path "into ruin" through "arrogance and inertia" does not give credit to the thousands of dedicated individuals at Ford, GM, and Chrysler who are absolutely paranoid and working hard every day to regain their companies' competitiveness.

Ford was trying to break out of traditional automaker practices and make an Old Economy business look more like a New Economy business; hardly an example of inertia or arrogance.

Jon Baker

Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

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