Regarding "Keep an Eye on South Africa" (March 7, Opinion): I am not a supporter of apartheid - that evil form of government that steals from many while feeding few. That said, I would like to bring a clearer picture of what's going on in South Africa. Its present government is another example of the mistake of instituting radical reforms too quickly. When Europe left Africa, it left a legacy of disorganization and anarchy. And when the whites lost power, many blacks felt freedom would be theirs. Now black South Africans are poorer than ever, and the crime rate has reached an astonishing high.
When radical governmental reforms are needed, they must happen slowly. I have family ties to South Africa, and know of many instances where whites are discriminated against. This may have been earned, but it will not help the country's citizens gain economic and political stability. In alienating the white population - where most of the money, education, and political experience is - the government is paralyzing itself so that needed changes cannot occur.
St. Anthony, Idaho
Regarding "Frontline makeover" (March 11, Work&Money): In trying to locate the source of the lack of "soft skills" present in our current work culture, Maia Chisholm has it all wrong when she says our workplace culture expectations are characteristically "European-American white male." Our workplace is American in that we expect people to show up on time, work hard, get along with one another, and speak standard English so that they can communicate with customers.
But to insert "white male" as a part of this norm isn't valid. Men, women, boys, and girls - all Americans - follow this work ethic. It's an American characteristic, an essential part of American culture. Immigrants of today must be expected to adapt to this culture, to adopt it as their own, just as former immigrants have. This culture holds us together as a nation.
Both as an employer and a consumer, I've experienced "service with a slouch." But these incidents usually involve teenagers and discount chains. One aspect your article doesn't discuss is that of wages and benefits. "Shape up or ship out" has a sharper ring to one earning a living wage with good benefits than to one earning low wages with part-time hours. When discount chains insist they can't find people with "soft skills," what they mean is they can't find people willing to work for low wages.
Regarding "Will the 'culture of entitlement' give way to the Age of Humility?" (March 6, Connections column): I must address the issue raised about the "Great Pretenders in first class." No airline could survive on the business of those who fly only once or twice a year. They need the repeat business of business travelers, like me, who may fly several times a month. They know companies rarely send their employees first class, and that their clients would usually balk at being billed for first-class travel. How then do they create "brand loyalty" and ensure repeat business, other than by having programs like elite status?
If you look closely at airline fare structures, you will see that coach travelers who bought cheap, weeks-in-advance tickets have their fares subsidized by business travelers, who most often fly with little advanced warning and have to pay full price. So, the question is: Who's being mistreated? In our capitalist system, companies are free to structure their rates to enhance revenues.
El Paso, Texas
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