Deeper roots to federalism

Your fine article "Recalibrating the power balance" (Jan. 6) suggested that the concept of federalism was adopted after the War of Independence to "provide a safeguard against despotism." But history tells us that even before our war for independence was concluded, the states had adopted a constitution called the Articles of Confederation. It was the failure of these Articles that brought about the Philadelphia Convention, where our present Constitution was written.

This Constitution created a strong central government capable of writing law superior to the laws and constitutions of the states. At the same time, however, it also granted the states the ultimate power of amending the Constitution itself.

By not excercising this power, the states contributed to what we have today - an all-powerful Congress that treats the Constitution as an impediment rather than a guide.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

John Carter Earlysville, Va.

Home workplace safety

Your Jan. 7 editorial "OSHA in the home office" oversimplifies a complex issue.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state laws on worker safety are one side of a coin.

Workers compensation laws are the other side.Together these laws serve us all byprotecting workers from on-the-job injuries and compensatethem for injuriesthat occur at the workplace.Workplace injuries are expensive for employees, employers, and the rest of society.

I may be willing to accept a risk at home that my employer, co-workers, and the government would not.

As longas my risk-taking behavior does not result in an on-the-job injury, I cannot compel others to bear the direct cost of injuries caused bythat behavior.

However, if I can attribute my injury to the workplace, then my employer, my co-workers, and the government have an interest in the safety of my "home workplace" becausewe share the cost of workplace injuries.

OSHA complements workers compensation laws by seeking to reduce workplace injuries.

Consider both sides of the workplace safety coin before you call "tails" on this issue.

Jeff Kray Tacoma, Washington

What happened to individual freedom and responsibility?

The OSHA policy of injecting that agency into private homes was not approved by Congress. It was a bureaucratic agency decision. What would it take to stop these aggressive moves by agencies?

Who needs the government to tell us what is safe? The OSHA initiative points to a grave and serious problem affecting the main thing America stands for - individual freedom.

David Cabbell San Ramon, Calif.

Another insight for 'Blood Money'

Your review of Thomas Perry's book "Blood Money" manages the remarkable feat of omitting any reference to heroine Jane Whitefield's Seneca Indian background and mindset (Jan. 13). Perhaps this opacity helps to explain the reviewer's apparent discomfort with her display of strength, insight, and understanding.

Members of immature cultures, such as that of the US contemporary mainstream, are often puzzled by the subtleties of native ways whose low-tech origins can mask levels of achievement temporarily reduced by later arrivals, but now once again beginning resurgence.

Vernard Foley Lafayette, Ind.

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