David K. Willis has written a helpful series on Africa's quest for survival [``Africa: Blueprint for survival,'' Sept. 10-13, 18]. One idea he alluded to should receive further consideration, that of individual liberty and the right to self-government. Regulations that control men's lives and govern the means and methods of production and distribution seem primary to Africa's dilemma. Government restrictions and interventions usually prohibit individual initiative. Many of the ideas presented as possible solutions cannot proceed without government allowing individual farmers, as well as entire tribes or communities, the freedom to apply those ideas. As Willis writes: ``The actual needs are political, educational, and social: the need for new ideas and the willingness to try them.'' Kenneth C. Lane Puyallup, Wash.
Regarding the question ``What can be done to save this vast, ancient, newly independent continent?'' [Sept. 10]:
The first and most important step is to have in place stable, responsible, and efficient governments which understand and advance proper priorities and goals.
As long as the large majority of governments in tropical Africa are unstable, corrupt, inefficient -- more often than not headed by leaders and military that are oppressive -- real progress will come neither to the land nor to the impoverished masses. Tara Wolf Forest Ranch, Calif.
As your Africa series clearly indicated, there is no ``drought of ideas,'' only an absence of the will to fund and carry out the necessary interventions in a sustainable and locally appropriate manner. One way is to communicate to elected officials about our desire to end world hunger. Beth Blue Swadener Madison, Wis.
``Christianity spreads across Africa'' [Sept. 3] included a map indicating the entire country of Zambia as Christian. During two years as a visiting lecturer, I traveled about 8,000 miles in that country. I can assure you that fewer than 20 percent (if that many) of the population could be classified as Christian by any proper criteria. And the same applies to the ``6,000 conversions a day'' across the continent. Consider the issue of polygamy very much alive in rural Zambia and elsewhere. Louis Mihalyi California State University Chico, Calif.
Regarding the editorial ``Breaking the 1 percent barrier,'' Sept. 20: It is a shame that ``Japan's global standing'' is justification for an increase in defense spending. The idea that a nation's defense spending should increase proportionately with global standing is outdated. Japan can live next door to Russia and see no threat of communism, while the US, on the other side of the globe, must battle an ideology at the sacrifice of its economy. Just because the US is suffering from massive militar y expenditures does not mean that Japan should follow suit. Brent McCosker San Luis Obispo, Calif.
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