The importance of presidential debates

Daniel Schorr's Jan. l4 column "Debates aren't the real test": Debates are important to democracy because they provide challengers and incumbents with the chance to focus attention on the issues. They are preferable to negative attack ads which provide voters with little useful information about the candidates ability to assume high elected office.

In addition to debates, the federal government should fund voter guides that could be sent to every American - providing candidates for president and Congress with the opportunity to answer questions about their views on issues. In addition to voter guides, a nonpartisan panel should be empowered to produce radio and TV infomercials - giving candidates equal air time to answer specific questions about issues of concern.

We must end the influence big campaign contributions have on candidates and reform the way our election system works.

Paul Feiner Greenburgh, N.Y.

Wolves vs. ranchers

I found your Jan. 26 article "Where wolves should roam free" quite biased toward the opinions held by Western ranching interests.

A few hundred wolves scattered throughout several Western states could hardly be characterized as a "successful recovery." A "recovery" negates the need for further protections from hunting or culling.

The fact that I'm bothering to write a response to this article should indicate to you that there are people who value wolves over subsidized ranching interests.

Tom Guthrie San Francisco

Entering America legally

Your Latin America bureau chief in Mexico City wrongly blames the United States Embassy staff, immigration laws, and racism because his Mexican friend was not granted a visa to visit the US in his opinion piece "America's rude art of rejection" (Jan. 26).

He should blame the millions of Mexicans and other foreigners who have entered the US on a student, tourist, or other visa and then remained illegally after that visa expired. Without a secure national ID card and an adequately staffed and motivated INS, our best defense against an even greater flood of similar illegals is to deny visas to the types of people who have demonstrated that they are most likely to overstay them. Unfortunately, young men from Mexico are in that category.

Thomas P. McKenna Montpelier, Vt.

Europe's productivity

The issue raised in your article "Can a graying Europe still support itself?" (Jan. 21) regarding declining populations projected for Europe and the predicted negative consequences of an older population neglect one key variable: That of increased productivity.

If the population of Europe declines and productivity per worker stays the same or grows less rapidly as population declines, the predicted consequences are valid. However, if productivity per worker continues to rise, then more, rather than less, should be available to support a population that is growing older.

Dick Hansis Arcata, Calif.

No adagio in Beethoven's Seventh

Regarding your Jan. 28 article "Twyla Tharp steps into 2nd movement of her career": There is no adagio in the Beethoven's Seventh, even though the lovely Allegretto is sometimes played that way. Beethoven's Symphony No. 7 (Opus 92) includes: Poco sostenuto-Vivace; Allegretto; Presto; Allegro con brio.

Roger G. Pariseau Jr. Oxnard, Calif.

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

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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