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Readers write

September 4, 1997



School Bake Sales Preferable to 'Selling Out'

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Thank you for "Marketing Wars Enter Schoolyard" (Aug. 19) and other articles raising a red flag on commercialism in schools. The superintendent who excused taking money from corporations by saying it saves students from organizing bake sales and car washes misses the point: Students learn valuable lessons in entrepreneurship and community involvement through those activities. Otherwise, instead of learning to sell, they learn to sell out.

Adding insult to injury are the relatively small amounts schools are willing to sell their souls for. Don't they realize companies pay as much for one television ad as they pay an entire school district for a year of promotion or exclusive solicitation?

Corporations should support schools for the same reason they support public television - to give themselves a good name in the community. Schools should demand this support and promise to keep parents informed of who the benefactors are. Allowing corporations to solicit children at school reneges on a commitment to free education.

Kathe Giest

Brookline, Mass.

Welfare breeds indifference

I fully agree with the opinion piece "A Retreat on Children's Well-Being" (Aug. 22). The recent welfare bill threatens the security of great numbers of children. Compelling mothers of young children to work outside the home is also too harsh. It is unlikely there will be enough worthwhile jobs for them.

But some welfare reform was an inevitable response to the great social changes in the 60 years since federal welfare began. During the Depression, it was recognized that unmarried persons should not procreate, and families were desperate to avoid having babies they couldn't afford. Only 4 percent were out-of-wedlock births. By 1995, that figure had grown to 32 percent.

I do not attribute this increase entirely to welfare, nor do I say that women give birth to receive welfare. But it is clear that awareness of welfare has often led women - married or unmarried - to become indifferent to the possibility of pregnancy. In a 1995 TV interview, several welfare mothers admitted to President Clinton that they probably would not have had their most recent pregnancy had welfare been unavailable.

The past 60 years have seen not only an unfortunate increase in nonmarital sex, but also a seeming disregard for the children who might be the result of these casual relationships. This is the real problem, not the welfare system. Irresponsible childbearing has a more tragic effect on children than even the complete elimination of welfare could have.

George E. Immerwahr

Bothell, Wash.

Alternatives to logging benefit all

The health of Western states' economy does not depend on exploitation of our national forests and other public lands, though lawmakers from that region often promote this myth ("Lawmakers Trek From Hill to Rockies," Aug. 26).

In 1991, Western legislators and the timber industry warned that a reduction in logging of Northwest forests would "create another Appalachia." A few years later, logging was curtailed, and Oregon coasted along with its strongest economy in a generation. In the Columbia River Basin, percentage of personal income generated by natural-resource extraction dropped from 7 to 5 percent between 1969-93. Income from jobs in the service sector grew by 60 percent. This can be found in local economies throughout the West.

It's important to remember who owns the national forests and lands where mining, livestock, logging, and oil industries like to operate. They belong to all Americans, whether they are rich or poor; live in Pocatell, Idaho, or Boston; and whether they are alive today or as yet unborn. Ownership of these wonderful places is one of the great benefits of being a US citizen. Land-management decisions should not be made only by local interests, extractive industries, or their congressional warriors - but by all Americans.

William H. Meadows

Washington

President, The Wilderness Society

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