The Feb. 6 article, "America warms up to nuclear power," claims nuclear power is the cure for our oil addiction, but it downplays both the positives of wind power and the deadly potential of nuclear power.
Wind farms currently power nearly 3 million US households, and that number is growing. Today's wind machines offer reliable, pollution-free power at competitive prices. They have an availability rate of 98 percent - higher than most other types of power plants.
The article ignores advances in wind turbine design that have minimized noise and bird fatalities. However, there have not been the same technological breakthroughs with nuclear power. A typical nuclear reactor still produces 30 tons of lethal waste every 18 months. This waste stays deadly for more than 250,000 years and has no permanent storage facility.
As the article reports, the French, who get the majority of their energy from nuclear power plants, have cooled to the idea of additional reactors. They have learned that the costs just aren't worth the benefits. It's a lesson I hope the United States won't have to learn for itself.
Energy program associate
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment
Regarding the Feb. 3 article, "The squeeze on American pocketbooks": The negative savings rate is merely a symptom of what is going on with our so-called booming economy. Sure more people are working, but at what cost? Last October my sister lost her job. Even though she had almost no savings, she wasn't worried because she had never had a problem finding employment, yet despite being a veteran, having years of experience in a field dominated by men, and sending her résumé to everyone she could think of, it took her more than 3 months to find another job. She is working outside her normal field and making about half her prior salary, but at least she's off the unemployment rolls, right?
My sister is by no means an extravagant woman. Even though she has only one child and her husband is also working, their finances and family are devastated. It will take her not months, but in all likelihood, years to pay off accumulated bills. Saving money is not a possibility. This is probably the reality of your average American family.
The Feb. 3 article mentioned the plight of the working person whose pay increases have hardly kept up with inflation. How about the retirees who have received no increases in their pensions; seen much of their inflation adjustments to their Social Security income offset by Medicare Part B premium increases; received interest-rate income on their savings below the rate of inflation (to subsidize the housing market); and no special tax break on their interest income?
There are 50 million seniors in our country who have suffered under current government policies. That is probably a significant factor in the country's negative savings rate. If the Federal Reserve starts cutting rates again, millions more seniors will find the growth in their 401ks a lot less than anticipated, and retirement will be a disappointment. I think it is time for the government to set an objective to maintain a positive interest rate of at least 1 or 2 percent above the rate of inflation and apply the same tax rate to interest income as to dividend income.
Robert W. Mutters
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