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How Base Closings Factor Into the Military Equation

As many people are, I am concerned about the number of proposed base closings and realignments. There are an estimated 179,000 military and Department of Defense civilian jobs at stake. Moreover, there are hundreds of thousands of private-sector jobs at stake in the areas surrounding the affected installations.

My initial reaction was one of shock and outrage. But my feelings have since changed. These base closings are important and necessary for the strength of our country. We cannot afford to maintain an oversized, inefficient military, because it is no longer a valid excuse as an economic stimulant. Furthermore, the cold war is over and there are now major strategic changes affecting the United States.

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On deciding which bases to cut, the military used a list of priorities drawn up by President Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. The priority list included the effects on mobilization, costs of maintaining versus closing bases, and the environmental and economic impact bases have on surrounding areas.

The estimated amount saved annually from proposed base closings and realignments is $3.1 billion. Some of this money will be spent to help communities affected by the closings. There are already many companies and organizations eyeing the base sites for their potential nonmilitary use. The National Health Care Task Force is looking into using the nine major military hospitals included on the list as part of a possible national health-care system. This round of base closings is a continuation of the downs izing and not a demobilization of the military. A military of our present size should not be maintained as an economic stimulus in a time when we must push ahead to a new economic era. Scott B. Ramsey, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Problem parenting

Regarding the Learning page article "A Nation Still at Risk," April 26: We are "a nation at risk" not because of our system of education, but because of the decline in the quality of parenting in our country. Good parents have never been better, but bad parents have never been worse.

We cannot expect schools to undo what drug abuse and the rejection of traditional morals and values have caused parents to do to their children. Nothing will improve until parents provide a nurturing environment for their children in which they convey the values of respect, self-discipline, and responsibility. Only then will children come to school ready to learn. Barbara Zagar, Clinton, N.Y. Photographs speak volumes

In the article "National Black Group Organizes to Identify Programs That Work," March 29, there is an accompanying photograph of three little boys about 4 years old. Two of the three boys are playing with toy guns. That picture speaks volumes to me: children playing with guns. Unless we as adults look seriously at that picture, we will have a continuing violent future, regardless of the number of programs the Black Community Crusade for Children can make work. Eugene S. Redner, Chelmsford, Mass. Wages vs. values

The column "Inflated Wages, Deflated Values," April 22, illustrates so succinctly the plundering of America by corporate CEOs. If we keep asking the question - "Is taking care of children only one-quarter of one percent as important, as necessary, as the work a CEO may do?" - will it make a difference? A. O. McDonald, Boulder, Colo.

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