Regarding your Sept. 9 article "How trade impacts US jobs and the war on terrorism": This is a good, perceptive article. In short, what you sow, you reap. The United States has billions of dollars in cotton subsidies that have the consequence of debilitating the cotton producers in Africa. There are tariffs on steel; cartels for aluminum, gas, and oil; tariffs on lumber; and many other items - all to protect products that under truly free trade would be obtainable at lower prices from foreign markets. The US has higher tariffs against poor countries than it does against richer ones.
Until the US plays on a level field, there will always be a degree of antagonism toward its power and influence.
Vernon, British Columbia
Regarding the Sept. 9 column "A test case of GOP's education holy grail?": Dante Chinni fears that education can't work like a market in Washington, D.C., or anywhere else. The evidence shows he needn't be afraid.
Numerous studies, ranging from the Manhattan Institute's "Education Freedom Index" to research by Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby have shown that the more educational choices parents are given, the higher the academic achievement of all students. And this is accomplished without, as Mr. Chinni warns, "pulling the better students out of public education."
In fact, the evidence from charter schools (currently the most widely available choice) and other choice programs shows that it is students who have been struggling in traditional public schools who disproportionately choose alternatives. This makes sense, since students for whom traditional schools are working have little incentive to leave.
Finally, Chinni needn't worry that the supply of affordable schools is too small; where choice exists, supply has grown to meet demand.
For example, the number of schools accepting vouchers in Milwaukee expanded from seven in 1990 to 102 in 2003, and the number of charter schools across the country grew from one in 1992 to nearly 3,000 today.
Markets do work, even in education. The hard part is getting them, and while the Washington voucher proposal isn't perfect, it's a step in the right direction.
WashingtonEducation Policy Analyst, Cato Institute
Thank you for this column. As the author notes, a theory that assumes that public education will benefit from competition "like any other industry" overlooks the basic point that education is not an industry.
Derek Bok points out in his recent book, "Universities in the Marketplace," the harm that "commercialization" is doing to higher education. It is important to avoid the tendency in American society to classify all organizations and activities as a form of business. Education is not a business. It has other goals. We must keep this in mind.
Virginia Davis Nordin Lexington, Ky.Professor, Higher Education Policy Studies
University of Kentucky
Regarding your Sept. 2 article "Why fewer seniors are leaving inheritances": I have repeatedly urged my parents to spend my inheritance. They earned what they have from the ground up, and I have no right to infringe on their ability to enjoy it in their retirement years.
Their bequest to me is years of training and encouragement that have allowed me to become what I am today.
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