Letters

Time to move ahead with Census 2000 I support the spirit of your editorial, that it is time for the Census 2000 to "end partisan bickering" ("The Census, at last," June 10). But I fear you have forwarded some misconceptions.

First, the January Supreme Court decision rejecting sampling was decided on the basis of a 1976 law forbidding the use of sampling for "purposes of apportionment."

Second, though the administration claims that redistricting was exempt from the scope of the ban, this is not clear from the actual Court ruling, which explicitly addressed "redistricting within states" in its prohibition. The matter may require an additional suit to resolve.

Finally, you state that "the bureau has long been prepared" to conduct a census with sampling. But the bureau's sampling plan was thrown out by the January court decision. It was not until March that the bureau's revised effort, now known as the Accuracy and Coverage Evaluation (ACE), was submitted to the National Academy of Sciences Panel to Review the 2000 Census. The preliminary status of this plan was revealed by the panel's report, which used terms such as "evolving" and "continuing," and phrases like "work to date" and "as the work proceeds to complete the ACE design" in its response to the bureau's plan. Far from being long-prepared for the task, the bureau even now is patching together a statistical device in an effort to pass legal and scientific muster.

David Murray, Washington, Research director, Statistical Assessment Service (STATS)

Individuals need to understand the importance of promptly mailing back their census questionnaires, which will be mailed to each household in mid-March 2000. This will contribute to the accuracy of the count and cut the cost of this crucial operation.

Mary Forte Grady, Chicago

Undue credit for Kosovo I find your editorial giving Clinton credit for success in Kosovo naive ("Credit where it's due," June 14). It has the smell of Monday morning quarterback second-guessing.

The real issue isn't who is carping at whom, but the failure of this administration's foreign policy. Yes, Congress deserves blame for not supplying the leadership this administration so desperately lacks. But, still, it was the president's nonexistent foreign policy that led to the reckless path of trying to solve that region's problems through military means. Mr. Clinton has set the stage for the next major conflict in Europe.

These mostly Muslim refugees, returning home under the protection or threat of opposing armies, remind me of Northern Ireland and the 70-odd years it took that region to find some kind of peace between opposite religious beliefs. Let's hope it doesn't take that long to find lasting peace for the Kosovars.

Gary Holcombe, Woodstock, Ga.

Right thing for the wrong reasons

"Does the motivation undermine the act?" asks Carlos Lozada in his Moral Dilemmas article ("The economics of cheating," June 4), "or does it still count as 'doing the right thing' when you do it for the wrong rea-

sons' "? T.S. Eliot poses this powerful question in his great drama "Murder in the Cathedral." Thomas Becket chose to remain loyal to his church at the cost of his life. Then in death he was honored as a martyr. No doubt he foresaw this outcome. Becket wanted to be remembered as a martyr. His tomb quickly became a shrine attracting pilgrims from all over Europe. Eliot writes, "The last temptation is the greatest treason/ To do the right thing, for the wrong reason."

Francis Mortyn, San Diego

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

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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