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Letters: Stimulus, salaries, trucks

Letters in a computer with red mailbox flag

TEXT OF STORY

Kai Ryssdal: We get comments one way or another about almost everything that airs on this program. But far and away it's our commentaries that get the most listener reaction. Both pro and con. And as in the most recent example -- corrective.

Last week we heard from David Frum about the economic benefits of the president's stimulus package. The multiplier effect is what that's called. A lot of you wrote to disagree with his opinion. That happens not infrequently. And a lot of you, like, say, Nicholas Battafarano from Notre Dame, Ind., took us to task for not checking our facts more carefully.

NICHOLAS BATTAFARANO: David Frum's commentary repeated a divisive fallacy that is echoing around in the national debate about the economic stimulus package. He claimed that it provides funding for a high-speed rail line from Las Vegas to Disneyland. This is patently untrue. The nonpartisan Web site FactCheck.org debunks this rumor.

We checked as well. Page number 237 of the stimulus package if you're reading along. There is money in the plan for a high-speed rail, $8 billion to be precise. Nothing though, about a route from Disneyland to Vegas, or any other route. There is a proposal out there for a high-speed train from Vegas to somewhere in Southern California, it's just not part of the stimulus plan.

Moving right along, Chris Richter wrote about last week's business of sports interview with Diana Nyad.

CHRIS RICHTER: The piece seemed to suggest taxpayers do not foot any of the bill for coaches' salaries. My alma mater, the University of South Carolina, pays its head football coach a salary of $257,500 a year. The same goes for the basketball coach, who draws a $250,000 salary from the state.

Diana was talking specifically though about the University of Connecticut. So we called them. The university controller told us UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun's salary is paid by the athletic department and that department raises its own revenues from ticket sales, endorsements, boosters and others. We've got a call in to the University of South Carolina to ask them about Mr. Richter's point. They haven't called us back yet.

Finally this week, trucks. Sadie Babits reported on a proposal by the trucking industry to let bigger rigs on the road presumably saving time, money and fuel. Like Kay Bridges of Sausalito, Calif., a lot of you had a better idea.

KAY BRIDGES: There is a great way to ship more than one trailer of goods at a time with no additional congestion on the roads. It's called "the train." Help cut pollution, and take cars off the roads. Ship by rail.

Whether you're listening in your truck, or on the train, or on a boat, or on a plane, we would like to hear from you somehow.

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I wasn't naive in citing Steve Spurrier's salary of $257,500, and I'm not a liar and I have no agenda. The comment I recorded for Marketplace mentioned the South Carolina coach's million-dollar-plus pay package. That part got cut. Spurrier is reportedly paid about $1.75 million a year. The figure I cited comes from a database The State newspaper has created from salary data provided by the state of South Carolina. The information was last updated in late February. You can look it up for yourself here: http://salaries.thestateonline.com/index.php?salary=150000#form. His salary from the state, according to the database, is slightly more than that of one of the associate provosts at the university and slightly less than that of one of the deans at the Medical University of South Carolina. The rest of his seven-figure pay package comes from sources like TV, radio and apparel deals. I was not defending big-time college sports or the salaries coaches are paid (or the way their deals are structured), nor was I making any claim that everything is rosy and above the board at NCAA member schools. I was simply citing an example I had knowledge of that seemed to differ from the situation in Connecticut that was described in the piece.

Once the lie is out there, repeated over and over and over, the correction is a useless endevor. I expect Marketplace to do its fact checking BEFORE the story is aired not after. You allowed your program to be a platform for a lier with a political agenda.

I am shocked by the naivete of your comments about college sports and the salaries of college coaches. Very few if any college athletic departments are self supporting. Do you get all of your info from PR spokesmen.
Big time college coaches are making millions not hundreds of thousands. The Star Ledger of NJ has done a huge series of articles on the mess at Rutgers where the football coach and the womens basketball coach each make over $2M per year.
Steve Spurrior the football coach at South Carolina has to making multi millions of dollars. I can't beleive that the University of Ct athletic department is entirely self supporting even though they have an incredibly successful basketball team.
What you must understand is that athletic departments will argue that the money for some of the salaries comes from outside sources but that side steps the issue. All money that a university receives should be allocated for the entire university and should be accounted for not hidden.I could go on for pages.
Marketplace should not step into an issue unless you are prepared to discuss the issue intelligently. If you want to talk sports, understand the subject. When you show no understanding of an issue your credibility on other stories and issues which I don't know as much about takes a huge hit.
How about a real substantial story on college athletics. How can state schools justify huge expenditures on sports in this economic time when they are raising tuition like crazy.
Thank you.

TRAINS, TRAINS, TRAINS!! The right-of-ways are in place, they ship more goods, and PASSENGER RAIL most certainly needs a boost with the free gov't dollars. Sit and relax, read a book, enjoy your Tunes, or (heaven forbid) have a conversation without having to pay attention to highway traffic!!

How come we don't have high-speed rail or a Mag-Lev train - seems a lot of the rest of the world does. Must have something to do with lobbyists...??

As a long haul trucker, I can tell you that plenty of freight is shipped by rail. Having said the, remember that a truck has to pick the freight up at the shipper, then deliver it at the rail yard, where it will sit until a full train is assembled. Remember that there are approximately 10 MILLION trailers in the US alone, and it takes approximately 4.5 MILLION trucks to move them. Where are we going to store al of those trailers while they wait to be loaded on rail cars?
Moreover, If you like fresh produce, you can't afford to have it sitting around in a rail yard for days, or weeks, waiting for a train.
Also, Trains do NOT get the fuel economy per mile that is claimed, unless you divide fuel per mile by the number of trailers on a given train.
Finally, there are a HUGE number of towns across America that are not accessed by railroads, and millions of drivers that need to work.

I disagree with shipments by train being a "better idea".....trains do not go to the end retailer, except in rare instances. A trailer "piggybacked" onto a train car still has to be driven to your local Trader Joe's or Target or wherever. Nor do trains transport freight in a "just in time" manner......a train car may sit on a siding in a railyard until enough cars going to a particular destination are assembled to warrant dispatching an entire train to that destination. If you want your lettuce to be crisp, it needs to get from the farm to the store on a truck.

Nor do I agree with the concept of having more trailers connected to a single tractor.
I think one solution would be to refine diesel fuel more thoroughly to remove pollutants, and for truck manufacturers to develop more efficient engines and body types to improve fuel mileage and aerodynamic performance.
Disclaimer: I am a truck driver.

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