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The Utility of Political Rhetoric

Sen. Malcom Wallop (R) of Wyoming, author of the Opinion page column " 'Japan Bashing' Hurts All Americans," March 20, is correct that Japan is a vital trading partner. He cites impressive statistics to demonstrate why political 'Japan bashing' is wrong. But political rhetoric is not wrong. Although with its hazards, well-placed rhetoric is helpful in pressing Japan for free and fair trade reform - something Japan has been slow to take up.

While Japan does import lots of "food, raw materials, and fuels," its policies toward many value-added products remain protectionist. While Japan's trade policies are not responsible for America's sluggish economy, free-trade negotiations should be vigorously pursued. Thomas S. Hornbaker, Seattle Something for nothing?

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Regarding the article "Scams Infiltrate Phone Lines," March 2: The first step in successful scam operations seems to be to break down people's resistance to the myth of "something for nothing." The breakdown begins when states sanction such games as Lotto, off-track betting, and other legal gambling systems.

In addition to catching "boiler-room" swindlers, efforts need to made to strengthen people's understanding that nothing in life is free. Elizabeth B. Helmer, Ithaca, N.Y. Life in Cuba

The article and photo essay "Hard Times in Cuba," March 13, seems accurate enough, and for that I offer praise, but something is missing from the story.

How about the Cubans who want open economic and cultural relations with Americans but despise the United States economic blockade because it, more than the fall of the Soviet Union, hinders their ability to improve their country?

How about the Cubans, young and old, who join volunteer brigades to work in agriculture and construction? Where are the pictures of people who keep on smiling in these hard times? Jamie York, Boulder, Colo. Youth and government

I question some of the conclusions the author makes in the Opinion page article "America's Politically Inert Youth," March 16. It is not so strange that more than 75 percent of the young people surveyed oppose a law requiring them to perform national service, since these are the people most affected.

But to oppose legislation mandating service is not the same as saying that young people do not want to contribute to national goals.

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Young people are demanding not more services from the government, but different services - not necessarily big government, perhaps just effective government. Rebecca Latorraca, Washington

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