Margaret Hofmann's April 25 opinion piece "Lets take our vote more seriously" asked why so few Americans vote. I think the answer belies her point. She downplays the "effort" required to be an informed voter, as if knowing the game of football is no more difficult. There is a wide spectrum of opinion on any given topic in politics. Voters must go to great lengths just to understand these opinions and the agendas behind them. But that is not the reason many of us do not vote.
When we have taken the time to research, consider multiple sources, and study the candidates, we often find their differences are slight and we agree or disagree with them equally. Consideration of local, state, and federal candidates is more than a little time consuming. With all due respect to Ms. Hofmann's opinion, I am content voting only when I perceive one side of an issue or one candidate in a race to be a far better choice than the other. I would guess the lines of voters braving the heat in South Africa would behave similarly to Americans if their choices were as narrowly different as ours often are.
Dan James Westerville, Ohio
Safe uses for surplus plutonium
Matthew Bunn's opinion piece "Plutonium at the summit" is on target regarding our need to get fissile material out of the former Soviet Union (April 26). However, he leaves out an important part of the equation, and that is permanent destruction of the plutonium through its use as nuclear fuel. Europe has used plutonium fuels for decades with no problem. Yet here in the US, we are creating a huge amount of red tape and unnecessary new procedures for the use of surplus weapons plutonium as a reactor fuel. This despite the fact that we also used plutonium fuels at the beginning of the US nuclear power program four decades ago.
We cannot be a leader in non-proliferation unless we are willing to lead in the destruction of weapons-grade plutonium to the "spent fuel standard," nonweapons-grade plutonium. And there is only one sure way it can never find its way to a weapon: by changing the atomic structure by consuming it to create electricity. The unfortunate alternative for this surplus weapons-grade plutonium is to be stored for many, many years - an option that is not favored by the residents of Amarillo, Texas, where the surplus weapons plutonium is currently stored.
Dale Klein Austin, Texas
The other at-risk children
I just had to say thank you to Katie Davis for her May 2 opinion piece "Elian in perspective." She articulated the anger and disgust that I felt when yet another story about Elian's family in Miami and the counterpoint of his father, Washington, and Havana all boiled down to self-centered, self-serving pandering by virtually everyone involved, at the expense of a six-year-old innocent. Let's have coverage by the media and an answer from the candidates to the question: "How are you going to improve the quality and safety of all the at-risk children?" No platitudinal rhetoric double-speak, please.
Jeff Slahor Morgantown, W.Va.
Big Brother in the UK
In response to your May 5 article "UK moving to open all (e-)mail": Well, George Orwell wasn't too far off.I can understand a government wanting to be vigilant against domestic and international terrorism and crime, yet this action sets the British up for being just like the "Evil Empire" (Russia) they fought against with weapons, rhetoric, and money for so many years.Mr. Blair should visit the library and pick up a copy of "1984."At least thoughts are still private.
David Whitman South Pasadena, Calif.
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