Letters

No Need for More Studies on Gambling

The article, "Doubts About Clinton's Gambling Panel Picks," Feb. 5, raises great concern about the gullibility of the American people. A federal panel studying the impact of gambling that includes casino officials is an affront to the public's intelligence.

Are we unwilling to accept already completed, unbiased studies of gambling's effect on communities throughout the country?

When the lotteries appeared on my state's ballot, many people were lured into legitimizing them by the promise of huge increases in education funding. Yet many teachers still are supplying basics for their classrooms from their own salaries.

We seem surprised that alluring promises from an activity historically considered a vice - and only recently as a benefactor - were illusions, at best.

Orlando, Fla.

Teaching the parents

"Push to Tackle Social Woes in Their Infancy," Feb. 6, takes me back to the '70s when I was a home-visiting teacher in a program for parents of infants and toddlers.

We helped parents learn how to talk with their babies, the importance of reading to them, and how to listen. We taught them how to serve healthful meals, how to "let" the children help with housework, how to get them out into the fresh air, how to reduce sibling rivalry, how to get community help if needed. We learned to listen to the parents and to commend good relations with the children.

I remember someone saying then that we were wasting tax dollars on teaching parents how to play with their kids. Wasting money? I only wondered how we could provide education before people have children, so perhaps more would wait. About half of our students were young girls and single parents.

Now, some in our government realize the importance of parenting help. Thank you for the excellent reporting. You report the good news too, and stories of successful programs can help them spread.

Marian P. Stow

Frankfort, Mich.

Slums of hope

Dharavi, India, the subject of "Asia's Biggest Slum Is a Land of Opportunity," Feb. 14, is a good example of a "slum of hope."

As author of this concept, I have shown that in these slums people build viable societies. These richly textured social systems should be the basis for improvement assistance. Bulldozing these slums would be a sad mistake. Urban planners and architects must not be given free rein to produce a beautiful city at the expense of the poor. "Slums of hope" become schools for an in-migrant population. They develop small industry, retailing, construction, and, most important, entrepreneurship. In sharp contrast with slums of despair, the Dharavis of the urban third world are signs of progress, ugly as they may appear to the tourist.

Charles J. Stokes

Stepney, Conn.

Charles Anderson Dana professor of Economics, Emeritus

University of Bridgeport

Few disadvantages to clean energy

I applaud the opinion-page article, "To End Bad Air as Well as Utility Monopolies," Feb. 18. The United States lags behind other developed countries in supporting clean energy. Worldwide, wind energy use has grown 20 percent per year, yet has nearly stagnated here. Artificially low prices for conventional energy hamper the development of better alternatives. And the argument that stricter air-quality laws will be too costly is specious.

Too costly for whom? We already pay the price for foul air and water. Forcing the costs of reducing pollution to be borne by the polluters is the only way to create a fair market in which alternatives, such as wind and solar energy, can compete. Yes, this may mean the closing of some conventional power plants. But they can be replaced by wind plants that are economical, provide more jobs for skilled workers, generate zero emissions, and don't interfere with grazing or agriculture.

Ruth H. Marsh

Mountain View, Calif.

All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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