Learning from John Sawhill

  Dear HCN,

Fine piece on the late John Sawhill by Jon Margolis (HCN, 9/11/00: Remembering an establishment revolutionary). Lest anyone forget, he was one helluva public servant, and that rare breed, a GOP conservationist. As a Newsweek Washington correspondent, I covered him in the Nixon and Ford administrations during which he put the first ax into the billion-dollar boondoggle known as the Clinch River Fast Breeder reactor, aimed at converting nuclear plant waste into weapons-grade material. In the Ford administration, he was fired in 1974 for publicly advocating a 50-cent gasoline tax when all about him warned him against sticking his neck out. His reasons sound eerily appropriate amidst today's oil price and supply imbroglio: Such a tax would reduce air pollution, raise transit funds, and discourage needless driving. If there is anyone like him today in federal service or in the Bush camp, they could learn a lot from John's work. Now is a good time to speak out before history repeats itself.

James Bishop Jr.
Sedona, Arizona

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