Regarding the August 2 article "Still writing checks? Watch out": Should consumers use fewer checks? Probably. When you hand over a check or put a check in the mail, you are in effect "publishing" your account information as well as your address and phone number.
But consumers should not be wary of check conversion, the process in which the account information on the check is used to make a one-time electronic payment. A check is, after all, an authorization to debit an account, and with check conversion that merely happens electronically rather than by transporting a piece of paper around the country.
When a check is converted into an electronic payment, the payment becomes covered by the Federal Reserve's Regulation E, which provides a stronger set of consumer protections than does existing law covering check payments. Four leading consumer advocacy groups recently wrote in a comment letter to the Federal Reserve on just this point.
Herndon, VirginiaDirector of Public Relations
NACHA, the Electronic Payments Association
Regarding your July 27 editorial "Free Trade and a Big US Debt": Opening foreign markets to US goods may help the US deficit but almost everything made in the US can be made cheaper somewhere else. Incredibly high taxes and tax credits, in addition to daunting legal fees built into everything, make manufacturing in the US too expensive. Taxes, along with the high cost of living, require high wages and they, too add to production costs. If the US wants to compete, it must reduce the size of government and cut entitlements.
Regarding the August 5 article "Will China clothe the world?": The US market is a powerful force. Consumers shape the world every day by their choices. Jobs moved overseas because we'd rather buy products a little cheaper than support local industries. If we choose not to buy Chinese products, some of which are manufactured in government-run prison factories, the Chinese government will respond quickly.
Check labels for the country of origin when shopping, and shop according to your values. That's a democratic free market.
The August 3 article "On SATs handwriting counts" was invaluable to me as an experienced educator. I've taught in public school and tutored students privately for many years. I've had students tell me they don't need to learn to write neatly and clearly because on anything important, they can always use a computer. The article validated the need for good handwriting.
Santa Rosa, Calif.
Regarding the August 3 article "Can you be a techie if you can't type?": Keyboarding is vital, for everyone, and should be taught. However, it is not as important as it was in the past; the article is right about that.
All the hackers and programmers I know (myself included) who use keyboards for many hours each day (somewhere between 10-14, on average) do not use proper touch typing techniques. I type using thumb, index, and middle fingers only.
So, I would teach typing, but I wouldn't force people to learn a specific way. Use the same typing programs, only let the kids type however they like.
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