Amitai Etzioni's Jan. 31 Opinion piece, "Give Washington a civilian review board," states that "the extraordinary exercise of [government] power calls for an extraordinary countermeasure: an independent body, not beholden to the government, that the people can trust."
I submit that such a group already exists. They are called voters - and no blue-ribbon panel, high-profile commission, or powerful board of oversight can do their work for them.
A democratic republic is not necessarily a self-tending entity. Each citizen must stay actively informed about the important issues of the day, and exercise his or her right to elect public leaders when the time comes. There is simply no substitute.
A civilian review board to provide grassroots guidance to the government is an interesting idea. But its makeup should be of ordinary, honest citizens - like those who make up juries - rather than "distinguished Americans," as Mr. Etzioni suggests.
If ordinary citizens are that close to US representatives, maybe these representatives will finally start to listen to the people they represent. Maybe with a citizens review board close at hand, we will start to get some ethical behavior from the government.
Regarding the Jan. 24 article, "Another US automaker down - but not out": Under the rules of the global economy, Ford has little choice but to shed American jobs and move production overseas. However, it is important to realize that these economic rules are not natural laws, but result from deliberate policy choices in favor of free trade in manufactures. In theory, free trade and flexible labor markets should power economic growth and generate enough high-wage service jobs to more than offset the loss of manufacturing jobs.
Unfortunately, the private-sector economy has not generated these new jobs in sufficient numbers. Despite impressive economic growth, American workers' real wages have remained stagnant since the 1970s.
With our nation's vast wealth, I think we could intervene in the labor market by creating high-paid public service jobs, so that America's workers could share in the nation's free-market gains. These would not be "make-work" jobs - there are certainly enough unmet needs in healthcare, social services, education, and the environment to employ millions of educated workers.
All that we lack is the political will to use America's wealth to benefit working people, as well as those of us who are investors.
In response to Sue Diaz's Jan. 23 Opinion piece, "No soldier stands alone in a battlefield": I want to thank Ms. Diaz for sharing her story and that of her son and his men in Bravo Company. It brought tears to my eyes and a lump to my throat.
It took me 17 years after my service as a medic in Vietnam to realize how many people "stood with me" during my tour. It was at the Vietnam Memorial that I realized thousands had been touched by that conflict.
I am so grateful that we as a country have matured to respect, love, and show care for those who step forward when asked.
God bless you, Bravo Company; you are in my prayers. You too, Ms. Diaz!
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.