Regarding the Aug. 5 article "Background checks rile professors": Any individual who has nothing to fear should relish the idea that efforts are being made to make the work environment safer. The idea that our privacy is being invaded by background checks is nonsense at best. Not performing these checks definitely infringes on the right to have a safe workplace.
I take umbrage at the characterization of private screening companies as "a dollar a doughnut" by Newark, N.J., public school system security chief Willie Freeman. He must not know about the truly ethical companies operating in this industry.
Donald J. Dymer
Inspector, Scotland Yard (retired)
President and CEO www.SingleSourceServices.com
I doubt that one in 20 positions truly calls for criminal background checks. While anyone would want to know the sort of person he or she employs, this trend goes beyond reason. It has little to do with the remote possibility that someone may have committed a crime, and a lot to do with an excessively litigious and intrusive cultural climate.
Considering the damage our education system can do to generations of children, not to mention the liability that comes with any employee, it's perfectly reasonable for all businesses and institutions to do background checks on all potential employees. If all Americans are equal, then these pillars of our democracy [professors] should welcome being included with the lowly masses.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
The Aug. 9 article "Hey, it's a dirty job ..." shed needed light on low-prestige positions and the stigma surrounding them. I agree that a lot can be done to make those positions more appealing. I would also emphasize, however, that society as a whole should more fully appreciate the "dirty workers" among us. They are the ones who perform important tasks - from hauling trash to emptying bedpans - that the rest of us prefer to avoid.
We need to gratefully acknowledge their work, because as our nation's labor market tightens in the decades ahead, it will become even tougher to recruit skilled and motivated candidates for those jobs.
Since retiring as a school counselor, I began volunteering at our local National Park in maintenance. In 2002 they hired me on part time as a "laborer." I clean buildings and outhouses, do minor landscaping, repaint signs and install signs, sweep, pick up trash, and empty trash containers. After 25 years of counseling, I find the work intrinsically rewarding, and I've lost 20 pounds. The pay nicely augments my retirement income.
A few friends look askance, but I think it is the best thing I ever did, and most of my friends agree. I am outdoors every day, enjoying the weather, scenery, and wildlife. And occasionally, visitors comment on how nice and clean everything is.
Your Aug. 11 editorial "Can Kerry deliver the allies?" refers to the US rejection of the Kyoto treaty. However, to sign on to Kyoto would destroy our economy and our way of life. This nation has taken advantage of technology and resources to attain the position of a world leader. Approving Kyoto would put much of our production out of business. I'm extremely glad the president didn't fall into the Kyoto trap.
James H. Grady
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