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Analyzing the Welfare System

The authors introduce some valid points in their Opinion page article "The Myth that Welfare Policies Don't Work," May 21. They are correct in their assessment that welfare policies are "cushioning poverty" and that the public needs to be reeducated, but the reasoning and conclusions are misguided.

For a proper analysis of America's welfare system one should consult Charles Murray's book "Losing Ground." This text properly utilizes the available welfare statistics by addressing the strengths and weaknesses of the system.

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Mr. Murray has found unimpeachable proof that the massive shifting of funds to the welfare state has increased, not decreased, the ranks of the poor. The current system is only "cushioning" these government-made welfare junkies, not helping them to escape poverty. President Bush's push to increase moral responsibility plays an important part in getting these people to give themselves a chance. Dale Lehmann, Alexandria, Va. No more nukes

In the letters column of May 8, Phillip Bayne, president and CEO of the US Council for Energy Awareness, is recommending nuclear power as a way of cutting down on greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Mr. Bayne does not mention that greenhouse gases are produced by the construction of nuclear plants as well as the mining, milling, and enrichment of uranium that fuels the plants.

A Rocky Mountain Institute study concluded that each dollar invested in energy efficiency displaces up to seven times more carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas, than a dollar invested in nuclear power. Further, energy efficiency has an immediate effect.

New nuclear plants would not have an effect for many years. Implementing efficiency will give us time to bring on-line nonpolluting alternative sources of energy. Gerald A. Drake, Chapel Hill, N.C. Treatment of the East Timorese

I would like to offer a different perspective than that contained in your editorial "East Timor: Time for Accounting," April 24.

There is no question that the unrest and lack of health resources and adequate supplies of food that immediately followed the Portuguese withdrawal from East Timor unfortunately resulted in lives lost on all sides. But, the numbers you cite are totally inaccurate and the lives lost were largely as a result of the social dislocations following the Portuguese abandonment rather than any Indonesian military actions.

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There was no professionally administered census to support population figures in East Timor until 1980, so it is impossible to compare current figures with earlier estimates.

Indonesia has carefully followed UN policies on decolonization in the integration of East Timor. In the face of the Portuguese abandonment, Indonesia has carried out the provisions of the UN Charter to the letter.

The incident last November in which lives were lost at a demonstration in the East Timor capital of Dili was condemned by both the government and the people of Indonesia. We do not condone irresponsible actions no matter who carries them out. We do respect human rights. M. Hannief Djohan, Washington, Counselor for Press and Information Embassy of The Republic of Indonesia

Editor's note: The Monitor stands by its references in the above-named editorial to the 200,000 East Timorese killed between 1975 and 1977, and the 200 killed in last November's demonstration in Dili.

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