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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the Brady campaign, a description of a Ron Paul supporter, the reward of good grades. reinventing the taxi, and the lack of savings from welfare.

Brady Campaign is open to a dialogue with the NRA

In response to Rachel Graves's Sept. 5 Opinion piece, "Gun debate muzzles the middle ground": The author laid out policy goals in which she implied that my organization doesn't support background checks on all gun sales, limits on machine guns and .50-caliber rifles, respect for hunting, and the ownership of guns for self-defense. We have agreed with these goals for more than a generation.

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I said "the two sides in this debate behave like spoiled children who won't sit at the table together and play nice," but she should have reported that I said that almost two years ago. We've offered to participate in an open dialogue with gun rights supporters.

In a speech at the National Press Club in May, Brady President Paul Helmke said, "Since Virginia Tech, both the NRA and the Bush administration have signaled publicly their willingness to support some new common-sense measures to make guns less easily available to dangerous people. Let's sit down and directly address these issues."

I'm proud of the work of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. It has an honorable mission and a staff that works extraordinarily hard to try to save people's lives.



Describing Ron Paul's supporters

Regarding the Sept. 6 article, "This mom walks her talk," congratulations to the Monitor for breaking through the media's near blackout of presidential candidate Ron Paul by profiling one of his supporters. As pleased as I was to see the article and the picture with the Ron Paul signs, I was disappointed with the article on two counts.

First, it discounted Dr. Paul's prospects by omitting any reference to his successes.

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Second, the article marginalized his supporters by calling them "a motley group that ranges from gun lovers and tax haters to pacifists and libertarians."

To me, and I am one of them, they seem like regular (and very sane) Americans who want their country to be a model of self-control and democracy for the world, not an imperialistic power. They appear to live within their means and expect their government to do so as well. They are law-abiding and expect their government to be so as well. They love the truth and the freedom that comes from knowing it. They are generous and enjoy helping to solve societal problems without government/bureaucratic help or restrictions.


The real reward? Good grades.

In response to the Sept. 7 humor commentary, "Kids make the pay grade": Paying students for good grades is a direct reflection on society as a whole. Kids are told more often than not, "School is your job."

It only makes sense in the minds of some parents to reward them for their efforts. Society at large rewards those who excel in school with premium employment and salary.

If everyone did well in school simply for the sake of intellectual enrichment, then we'd have permanent peace on earth. We might not even have a need for money in its current form, if that happened.

But we don't have that at all, and perhaps never will, for better or for worse. Reward for performing well is a form of motivation, one more easily measured by some than others. What's more important, doing something well for the sake of a reward, or simply doing it for the sake of doing it? What's more important, the reason for completing a task (reward, enrichment), or completing a task?


Taxi inspires hybrid creation

In response to the Sept. 6 article, "Fewer cabs today on New York City streets": The article included a photo of the huge American-style yellow cab. It caught my attention regarding congestion in New York City, the waste of fuel, and my experience of being cramped in the back seat of existing American taxis.

How about producing a hybrid fuel-efficient taxi and modeling it on London cabs? London cabs have plenty of legroom and plenty of space for luggage. Making taxis a fuel-electric hybrid would help to contain operating costs by saving fuel while also helping to clean the environment by reducing air pollution, since taxis run their engines almost continuously.

Since London taxis are much shorter than the American cars used as taxis in the United States, more street and parking space would be available. And the shorter turning radius would improve maneuverability.


No savings with the welfare program

Regarding Rourke O'Brien's Sept. 7 Opinion piece, "Let the poor save for their future," there are a number of problems with the piece, many of which appear to be due to the ignorance about welfare/workfare policies.

Those who receive cash assistance are required to work, and benefits are reduced according to one's earnings. Generally, if you receive any cash assistance at all, your total income (earnings plus aid) will remain so low that there is simply nothing left to put into savings, no matter how frugal you might be.

It's all fine and well to say that the family should be allowed to put $2,000 in savings without being penalized. But for those who receive cash benefits today, there is simply no money to put into savings. If you do manage to save a few hundred dollars while you're a recipient of cash benefits, you had better be prepared to show where that money came from!


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 may appear in print or 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 OpEd.


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