Abused Subsidies and Western Water Distribution

Regarding the article, "The Sun is Setting on a Century of Concrete Waterways Out West," June 18: I applaud your airing of this important natural-resource issue. However, your focus on the deleterious environmental effects of massive water development projects makes this out to be just a local or regional issue, rather than the national issue that it really is.These projects are on public lands and literally amount to a massive taxpayer subsidy providing cheap water to a relatively small number of farmers and ranchers. Our tax dollars pay 83 percent of the capital and operating costs of these farmers' water. The original Reclamation Act of 1902 was to provide low-cost water to farmers working 160 acres or less. Under pressure from Congress and its corporate farmer sponsors, this size restriction was raised to 960 acres in 1982. Even with this acreage increase, the system is still abused and poorly enforced, with water-receiving farms of several thousand acres being quite commonplace. I prefer farms to subdivisions, but this taxpayer subsidy of environmental destruction and water must be reformed. Matt Huston, Washington

US: nation of servants? In the ominous front-page story, "Shifting US Economy Pinches the Middle Class," June 17, the author doesn't fully focus on the most ominous aspect of the gathering storm. Education alone cannot solve the core problem, which is that a service economy does not create new wealth. This can only be created if you manufacture something of value. While manufacturing expands in the Far East, Western Europe, and south of the border, the US is becoming a nation of servants, who will be paid accordingly - and we'l l feel more than just pinched! Allan Kelly, Boston

No politics in bureau's data The article "Attorney General To Leave Justice Department Amid Mixed Reviews," June 7, infers that political considerations may impede the accurate reporting of crime statistics by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). This is simply wrong. Data collection for BJS reports is performed by outside agencies, primarily the Bureau of the Census, and the data are made available nationally to universities and researchers through a computer network and consortium at the University of Michigan. BJS trains and f unds outside researchers to analyze the data independently for their own interests and purposes. Similarly, BJS publications (almost 1 million copies annually) are disseminated free of charge through a nongovernmental national clearinghouse that provides professional and individualized reference services. BJS press releases and findings also are reported regularly in the national media. The statistical analyses produced by the career professional staff of BJS are regarded as the world's best and are relied upon by the nation's policymakers, courts, criminal justice officials, and the public. Sacrifices in the quality and accuracy of crime statistics for reason of "political spin" do not occur and are not tolerated. Steven D. Dillingham, Washington, Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics

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