Military facility conversion

In the Opinion page article "Softening the Blow," Feb. 11, the author addresses the problem of "finding jobs for out-of-work Americans and eliminating obsolete cold-war military programs that still employ hundreds of thousands of workers." He remarks that these two aims seem incompatible.

Among the options he reviews, he dismisses as "the most fanciful and unrealistic proposals" those that involve "economic conversion." The reason he offers for this rejection of economic conversion is that, "Despite idealists' wishes, it is next to impossible to change the deep-seated culture of an aerospace military contractor into an approach that successfully competes in the consumer marketplace."

The author's implicit assumption is that aerospace military contractors must necessarily be left in charge of economic conversion. If in fact they are so unadaptable, the solution is not to abandon proposals for economic conversion, but rather to replace hidebound aerospace executives with executives, perhaps ones who have recently become unemployed, who have the ability to make economic conversion succeed. Darrel Abel, Waldoboro, Maine

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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