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Candidates' Free-Trade Policy

Regarding the front page article "Perot Puts Spotlight on Free-Trade Issue," July 3: None of the three presidential candidates is properly handling the controversial issue of free-trade negotiations with Mexico and Canada. Aside from neglecting the need for a global free-trade initiative instead of one for North America or this hemisphere alone, all three fail to stress the importance of a domestic-adjustment/full-employment strategy to backstop any form of free-trade undertaking. All three (in varying d egrees) have proposals for strengthening the United States economy including US competitiveness, but none of the candidates coherently relates his domestic-economic strategy to whatever passes for his foreign-economic strategy.

America is unprepared for a real free-trade policy, hemispheric or trans-hemispheric. David J. Steinberg, Alexandria, Va. Government needs to help regulate energy

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The author of the Opinion page article "Government-Imposed Energy Efficiency - a Bad Idea," June 30, pooh-poohs the concept of government intervention to increase energy efficiency. He urges that the market should decide. In reality, our "free" markets depend heavily on government. The oil-based prosperity which we once enjoyed was predicated on extensive social investments in roads and bridges, big tax breaks for oil producers, and military muscle to protect foreign oil supplies.

Government may not be wiser than individuals or businesses, but it has different priorities. Business tends to focus on the near-term bottom line. We consumers, judging from our propensity to borrow at credit-card interest rates, have even less regard for the future. It is left to society as a whole, acting through government, to address the longer-term issues of national economic competitiveness and preserving the global environment. Our future prosperity depends not on massive resource consumption, but

on intelligence, efficiency, and technology. Government leadership is essential if we are not to be left behind by our competitors. Daniel M. Everett, Athens, Ga. Lucrative congressional retirement

The Opinion page article "Congressional Reform: Handle With Care," July 2, discusses the large number of members of the House of Representatives retiring this year. But the author neglects to mention a key factor: Congress made it illegal for members retiring after this coming election to divert their campaign funds to their own personal use.

Although the conversion of these millions of dollars may have been made legal, at face value it seems clear that they were obtained by fraud in the first place. Members of Congress solicited these funds for their reelection, did not use them for that purpose, and are now slipping them into their pockets. Steve Juniper, Berkeley, Calif.

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