One Good Harvest Is Not Enough

Regarding "Changes in Agribusiness May Quiet Predictions of Global Hunger" (July 23): On a subject as important as the relationship between population and world grain harvests, we need to concern ourselves with something other than record harvests of any one particular year.

In response to record grain prices (and record demand) last year, President Clinton allowed land in our commodity set-aside programs to be put into cultivation. The European Union reduced its set-aside land from 12 percent to 10 percent, which partially accounts for bumper crops. This option will not be available year after year.

More important, there has been a dramatic loss in the momentum of growth in world harvests since 1990. How long and how reliably can we expect production increases in response to explosive demand?

According to the Population Reference Bureau, if world population were to continue to grow at the rate that it did in 1996, we would double our numbers in just 46 years. A bumper crop does not invalidate the concerns of analysts who predict massive starvation if present trends continue. Trusting free enterprise and "the market" to continually increase our grain harvests year after year is pure folly.

Jonette Christian

Holden, Maine

Fathering by example

I would like to thank Arthur Bowler for his perfect Home Forum story, "Indelible Love Marked the Pages," (Aug. 15) about a father's reaction of love when his two-year-old son scribbles in one of his books. I have never before been so moved by something I read on the Web. Fathers who set such a good example for their children in turn have children like Mr. Bowler.

Joshua Bretz

Boston, Mass.

In search of moral leadership

In response to the article "Sixty Percent President" (Aug. 8): I see this paradox as a positive negative. The reason the president is so popular is that the majority of Americans have the same character flaws so obvious in their country's leader. With divorce rates over 50 percent; prescription and illegal drug addiction; slavery to alcohol, tobacco, and gambling; and the disparity between the salaries of professional sports figures and school teachers - is it any wonder that a man of low morals and a questionable character would be admired?

As the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, once observed, "I reluctantly foresee great danger threatening our nation - imperialism, monopoly, and a lax system of religion." (Miscellany 129:3-5.)

Until these issues are faced, the society we've created will continue to master us. We will hold in high esteem those who, at any other period of human history, would have been considered moral idiots and mediocre personalities.

Ed Specht

Carlsbad, Calif.

Education as a financial priority

Regarding "Big Tuition Costs in Big Sky Country" (Aug. 11): Few would be critical of the Barrett family's opportunities and their ability to prosper. But, one wonders if they should have weighed their custom-built home and all that goes with it against their "small" nest egg and tax reform laws. The family's "stretch" - with income of $65,000 a year - to pay their children's college education would be relaxing calisthenics for many of us.

College financial advisers often remind us that scholastic achievements can lead to scholarship awards. Financial priorities, home schooling, and scholastic achievement made our "stretch" possible. The last of our seven children will graduate from college in 1998. Wow!

Stanley B. Marugg

Carol A. Marugg

Scappoose, Ore.

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