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Australia's 'mateship' survives

I must congratulate the fair and discerning report "Australia's sense of mateship takes some hits" (Nov. 24). However, the comment that Australia began "as a society of convicts and ex-convicts seeking a fresh start" is not entirely accurate.

Many convicts, especially young women (who were forcibly transported often for minor misdemeanors), were not seeking a fresh start but were convicted under the harsh British laws of that time. Also, our pioneering society included many genuine settlers, as well as military personnel who endured primitive conditions and survived.

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A half-century ago, it was estimated that only 1 percent of the Australian population, then around 9 million, could claim convict descent.Many convicts had earned official pardon and had prospered in society.

Although traditional Australian "mateship" has suffered through the influx of different ethnic groups and dwindling isolationism, the spirit of friendship is still recognized as an important asset in our society.

Ronald Walker, Maroochydore, Australia

Wage hike detrimental

Regarding "Real-life stakes of boosting America's minimum wage" (Nov. 8): The article details the GOP's proposed bill to increase minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 per hour.

I don't believe in raising the minimum wage another dollar. As part of the "low wage" workforce, I don't think that it would be beneficial to me or my co-workers. Raising the minimum wage means business owners are forced to increase the pay of everyone else by the same amount.

Especially in small businesses, this can be a problem because there is not enough profit to raise everyone's wages. This makes pay raises few and far between for deserving, hard-working employees.

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If businesses can find labor cheaper somewhere else, another country for instance, they will be willing to go there.

At first, a raise in the minimum wage looks good to workers, but the long-term results show that the extra dollar an hour just isn't worth it.

Brenda Bain, Socorro, N.M.

Decatur's other side

It would seem that the author's view of Decatur, Ill., was strictly formed by the drive from his hotel through the industrial section to Eisenhower High School ("Ground zero of zero-tolerance violence," Nov. 18). His description of our town was uncharitable at best.

Self-supporting, unlike a capital or state university town, Decatur does have its smokestacks; however they are neither representative of the whole area, nor are we ashamed of them.

Let's hope the author will return to Decatur so we may show him our lovely parks, lake, woodlands, residential areas, university, and central business district. Our community is striving to improve relationships among all our residents, despite the recent notoriety.

Margaret K. Rothe, Decatur, Ill.

Hope for China

Your coverage on China is always objective and fair. I appreciate your reports.

I came to North America from China 13 years ago and am familiar with both systems. A lot of media reports about China are biased and unfair. Like most countries, China is neither devil nor angel. It certainly made a lot progress in the last 20 years, although it has a long way to go. The outside world, especially the United States, should help in a positive way to bring China into global community.

Longxiang Yang, Charlottesville, Va.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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