Readers write about the troop surge in Afghanistan, why newspapers are failing, what school vouchers can do for poor students, and why raising taxes on the rich hurts everyone.
In regard to the March 17 Opinion piece, "Rethink the Afghanistan surge": I appreciated author Eric Olson's warnings about the impending troop surge in Afghanistan. What seemed like a plausible answer to the problems in much-neglected Afghanistan is now appearing more and more to be simply a political move to look "tough on terrorism" without well-defined goals.
As we should have learned by now, missions without clear objectives tend to get "accomplished" long before they are finished, while careful and concerted efforts targeting a range of problems yield significant and tangible results.
Nuanced and deeply reasoned thinking is essential in cases like this; simple solutions to complex problems will inevitably fail.
Why are newspapers failing?
In regard to the March 16 article, "Newspapers' troubles escalate in recession": The media have had such a focus on the bottom line that they have forgotten their primary mission in a democratic society: to investigate, find the truth, and publish it. Perhaps if newspapers had done their job in the last decade – real investigative reporting – they would have been more popular and sold many more copies. I think their bottom line would have been different.
I've been a newspaperman for more than 50 years (working as a metro reporter, editor, and publisher). My peers and I could see the downfall of newspapers coming when their stockholders started demanding record-high profits – 30 percent was the admired goal. Complicitous newspaper CEOs accommodated the demand with newsroom cuts – reporters, columns, staff travel. Just as surely as Wall Street was aided by indifferent government watchdogs in bleeding the stock market dry, newspapers were early victims of this rapacious behavior by willing newspaper CEOs and speculators.