More Effective Use of US Foreign Aid

In the Opinion page article "Foreign Aid Serves US Interests - Keep It Flowing," Dec. 31, the author argues that foreign aid is good for the United States.

Although food giveaways help US farmers and shippers, they do nothing to reduce the growth rates of already overpopulated countries. By giving away grain while giving insufficient attention to fundamental problems such as overpopulation and corruption, we increase the number of people who will be malnourished in the future.

The companies we should subsidize are the producers of birth-control pills, condoms, and other contraceptives. We should subsidize educators who can teach people how to prevent pregnancy and the consequences of overpopulation.

Many third-world countries are hopelessly in debt because they borrowed from the US. A few of the wealthy in these countries have gotten wealthier by these exchanges. The people an idealist might wish to benefit, however, often see little if any benefit from US foreign aid.

Foreign aid is in the interest of the people of the US and the world, but only if it is spent by idealists who are also smart. When it is primarily a way to subsidize US farmers or arms manufacturers, then that money could be better spent elsewhere. Steven Hill, Las Cruces, N.M.

It is nonsense to say that anyone who wants to reform the foreign-aid appropriation is an isolationist. Why do we keep rewarding the Shamir government, which has a dismal record on human rights, with more than $1,000 for each Israeli per year? In contrast, we have supported the peoples of the emerging democracies in the Baltics with aid of under $2 per person. E. Nilenders, Huntingdon Valley, Pa. Religious freedom

The Opinion page article "The Bible and the Ballot Box in 1992," Dec. 30, obscures the issue. We do have a widening split in our country based on religion. However, it is not a matter of religious believers on one side and nonbelievers on the other.

The issue is the right to freedom of religion for all as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Alton Dickieson, Sun City, Ariz. Christmas tree reuse

Georgia has the answer to the question, "Why hasn't somebody thought of a way to recycle used Christmas trees and enhance the environment somehow?" from the Home Forum page essay "More Than One Way to Steal a Tree," Jan. 3.

On a designated date about 150 sites across the state receive Christmas trees. At many locations a free tree seedling is traded for your discarded tree.

The discarded trees will be chipped into mulch, dropped into lakes and rivers to enhance fish breeding sites, and placed in natural areas to enhance wildlife habitats. Frances Y. King, Atlanta

"Why hasn't somebody thought of a way to recycle used Christmas trees and enhance the environment?" Well, somebody has. The Boy Scouts in Bellingham, Wash., collect the trees at curbside. Then the trees are put through a chipper and the City Park Department uses the chips to mulch their roses and other plantings. The city of Vancouver, Canada, also puts trees through a chipper and even sells some of the chips for mulch. K. Niedhamer, Lummi Island, Wash.

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