Party Lines

Politics, always partisan, was front and center in the mail, where the debate continued over the U.S. Small Business Administration's assistance to entrepreneurs who were affected by the destruction of 9/11. Readers also aggressively questioned the timing of a November story on Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Profiling McAuliffe is the political equivalent of highlighting Ken Lay or Sam Waksal. In my view, all three are unprincipled at best, criminal at worst. You lost any objectivity with that smarmy Dewar's profile just days before the election. To McAuliffe, the ends justify any and all means. Is that the entrepreneurial ethos you wish to promote?

Sherri Dodsworth
Surf Enterprises Inc.
Cape San Blas, Fla.

Editor's note: Terry McAuliffe, who was featured in November's "Life of the Party," disputes the often reported story that he was one of the people who arranged Clinton-administration events like the White House coffees and Lincoln Bedroom sleepovers. Inc regrets repeating media reports to that effect without independently verifying their accuracy.

In his letter to the editor [Mail, December], Michael Pappas affirms the Small Business Administration's requirement that if borrowers have personal collateral, they must pledge it, including their own homes, to qualify for assistance from the SBA. His point about the need to protect taxpayers' interests is well taken. Does this mean that airline executives who are seeking massive taxpayer bailouts to cover their past poor management decisions will be required to put their homes up for collateral to secure government-guaranteed loans? Or is it only the little guy whose livelihood was destroyed by circumstances beyond his control who must risk homelessness to secure assistance from the federal government?

Donna Childs
Founder and CEO
Childs Capital
New York City

Call of the Wild

December's " Find Trail. Hike. Repeat," about a business owner who does his best thinking in the great outdoors, inspired one reader to write in about his own experience.

Your story about Eric Kampmann and the Appalachian Trail really put a smile on my face, as my business journey has been somewhat the reverse. For 11 years I was the manager of Phantom Ranch, a guest facility at the bottom of the Grand Canyon that is accessible only by foot, mule, or river raft. I've hiked in and out of the canyon close to 400 times, nearly 5,000 miles, just to get back and forth to work. It does set one's mind in motion. A business idea came to me in 1996, and I spent four years on the trail honing it before launching my company. Keep up the good work, and tell Kampmann that I share his trail.

Warren G. Tracy
Almost There Inc.
Prescott, Ariz.

Happy and Alone

Rugged individualists continue to take issue with John Case's November story on the hidden costs of being a free agent.

"Trading Places" seems written from the perspective of a true corporate weenie. Do you work in the human-resources department? Your article neglects to mention the other wonderful benefits of corporate life. How about the 10 to 20 hours of free labor we give the "mother ship" each week? How about the "optional" weekend work? You'll never see another promotion if you don't do it. Same with the out-of-town trips that send you away from your family for weeks.

Managers rant about "teamwork" and "dedication," but you never see them around on weekends. If you do good work, you maybe get a 5% raise and the privilege of leading more poorly staffed projects.

Being self-employed, I have unbillable hours, too, but they build equity in my own company. Going out on one's own is a challenge. But it's not a foolish, thrill-seeking venture.

Rick Russon
Red Ocher Solutions

House of Corrections

The names of the 73rd and 75th companies on the 2002 Inc 500 list, Lydian Trust and Arkidata, were typeset incorrectly in the rankings in our annual Inc 500 issue.