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By Jim HastingsBruce Clark, Steven Sternbach, John H. O'Reilly / February 27, 1995



Africa's Overpopulation Problem Calls for United States Assistance

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The article ''World Community Needs Courage, Say Leading Critics,'' Jan. 30, states that the $2 billion the United States spent on humanitarian aid to Somalia was ''tantamount to treating the symptom, while downplaying the disease.''

The author's definition of the ''disease,'' is: ''the root political cause of the conflict.'' I agree that local politics is one of the main causes of the conflict -- but it is the cause least amenable to remediation by foreign aid.

What I consider ''the root cause'' of Africa's ills -- and the problem most deserving of our assistance -- is overpopulation. Family planning won't solve all of Africa's ills, but every cause is a lost cause without it. We should be increasing, not decreasing such assistance.

John H. O'Reilly

San Francisco

New dress code long overdue

The author's regrets over IBM's newly relaxed dress code are misplaced, to say the least, in the article ''Dressing Down in Corporate America: Is it Progress?'' Feb. 16. It is time businesspeople started dressing sensibly. In the summertime, particularly, they look miserably out of place, out of touch, and uncomfortable.

Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than at-home visits from insurance salesmen dressed in a coat and tie when I am dressed in jeans or sweatpants. People don't have to dress like slobs to be comfortable and save energy. IBM should be congratulated for finally figuring this out.

Steven Sternbach

Brookline, Mass.

Reviving ''star wars'' is a bad idea

Jeff Danziger's Feb. 18 cartoon is the best I have ever seen on the ''star wars'' controversy. He even refers to President Eisenhower's warning about the possibility that the military-industrial complex might take control of US foreign policy.

The best argument I have seen against star wars was written by an MIT computer expert about 15 years ago. His argument was that star wars could never work, even if the hardware did. Since there was an unsolvable computer software program, the software could never be tested in a complete working system. I hope that star wars does not get revived. It would represent an enormous waste of money and talent.

Bruce Clark

Los Altos, Calif.

Give the line-item veto a fair hearing

The line-item veto isn't ''a plea for help from the Congress'' to stop its members before they spend again. It was our own presidents who began voicing this plea many years ago (''The Line-Item Veto,'' Feb. 9). The measure is part of the Contract With America, chiefly because it reflects, according to polls, the wishes of most Americans.

Now, after decades of failed liberal policies, we finally have a Congress willing to give the plea a fair hearing.

With a presidential line-item veto, both legislative and executive branches would be able to move along sooner to other matters.

Jim Hastings

Boston

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