Taking issue with the drug war I applaud the monitor for publishing some much-needed plain talk ("America's misguided drug war," March 8).

Sadly, like prohibition, the drug war actually creates the problems it is intended to solve. Prohibition of any product spurs inflated prices for the outlawed item, allowing huge profits to be reaped by those who sell it. Naturally, those deriving such profits wish to protect them at almost any cost. As a result, dealers in outlawed goods seek to protect their turf and thereby their profits, often resulting in the kind of violence that has turned our cities into urban war zones.

Legalization of drugs modeled after alcohol decriminalization would instantly reduce prices for the previously prohibited substances and therefore eliminate the problems associated with their high prices: turf wars, drive-by shootings, and money laundering. Property crimes and robbery would also likely experience a decline as a result of the lower prices. An addict who has to steal $200 today to support his habit may only have to steal $20 tomorrow.

Not perfect, but a good start. Ultimately, the law of economics, as well as the past failure of alcohol prohibition, clearly demonstrate that the drug war can never be anything other than the unmitigated failure it is. Until there is complete candor in this area, the disaster created by the drug war will continue to wreak its havoc upon our society.

Thomas A. Behrendt, Highland Park, N.J.

If we deliberately set out to devise a drug control policy to encourage police and political corruption, to foster violence, and to cause maximum harm to society and individuals, we would most likely end up with a policy remarkably similar to the one we have.

Steve Wellcome, Bolton, Mass.

Levi's layoff - no kick in the pants The editorial page cartoon (Feb. 25) depicting a footprint on the rear of a pair of Levi's jeans was neither realistic nor amusing. Actually, the 150-year-old Levi Strauss & Co. is known as one of the industry's most benevolent employers. Workers receive health insurance, pensions, and other benefits, along with pay averaging many times that of apparel workers in some overseas nations. Laid-off workers will receive benefits from a $245-million employee package that includes eight months' notice, as much as three weeks of severance pay for every year of service, up to 18 months of medical coverage, an enhanced early retirement program, and a flexible allowance of up to $6,000 for training and start-up expenses.

Any layoff is sad, but this is no kick in the pants.

Roger Barber, Sonoma, Calif.

'Smart toys' not so smart The fact that companies like Microsoft are trying to find yet another way to infest the innocent mind of a child with one more "technological advancement" angers me ("'Smart' toys interact with kids and TV").

Far too many children spend too much time sitting and watching TV or playing computer or video games. They no longer play outside, or play "house" or "cowboys and Indians." Now it's Nintendo, vicious, graphic Nazi killing games, and long hours in front of the television contaminated with foul language and vulgarity - which they pick up and repeat at school for other children to take home.

RoseAnne Haskin, Rexburg, Idaho

Positive perspective on impeachment

I wish to thank columnist John Hughes for his essay ("Process, presidency intact -a nation's enduring strengths," Feb. 17). My husband and I agree that it is the best post-impeachment article that we have read.

Vicki Sheffield, Monticello, Fla.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Letters must be signed, including your telephone number and city. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

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