Regarding the May 3 article, "Career plans by age 12? Maybe in Florida": I agree with middle school teacher Richard Cantlupe, who says middle schoolers "just want to learn and absorb." Adolescence is a time of so much learning and growing. To narrow learning to a specific path at such an early age would be a disservice to students, especially since it could eliminate their exposure to the arts, foreign language, and physical education, which are important to their development as well-rounded individuals.
I taught middle school for several years and found that a unit on careers, where students interviewed people in the workforce and shared their findings with their classmates, was sufficient. And it allowed for a little career exploration with absolutely no pressure.
Most middle schoolers would not know which career path to pursue, and they might find themselves back at the beginning when they reach college anyway. Caring teachers and supportive parents who instill a love of learning in young people will do much more for education than having young students choose a career path. And this love of learning grows with each opportunity to explore a broad range of subjects and ideas.
Adulthood comes soon enough, and a person spends plenty of time thinking about his or her career. Let's let kids be kids!
Heidi Kleinsmith Van Patten
Your May 4 editorial, "Adventurism in the Andes," captures the perils which accompany the momentum toward nationalization in resource-rich countries. Most distressing, however, is the thought that the trend is hard to reverse. Kuwait has been discussing Project Kuwait, a bill to invite foreign investment, for a decade now, to no avail. Iran has struggled to find a formula to bring back foreign investors, a task made harder by the country's isolation. Even Mexico's debate is colored by the country's nationalization of the oil industry in 1938.
As we follow the likes of Hugo Chávez and Evo Morales, it is worth recalling not only that they are harming their own hydrocarbon industries, but that the popular expectations on which their policies feed are likely to be with us many years after their own stint in power is over. A pity to think how much harm can be done in so little time - harm that will prove very hard to reverse.
The estate tax is immoral
Regarding the May 1 article, "Estate Tax: a morality play": It is not an issue of morality but an issue of immorality.
Why is it that everyone enjoys the same levels of government service but then must pay for it based on how much money he or she earns each year or saves in a lifetime? Why is it that if someone builds a business over a lifetime, then sells it, the sale results in half the revenue going to the government in the year of the sale, then another large portion of what is left is taken upon the owner's death?
We have Constitutional protection against double jeopardy but not against double taxation. Citizens "render unto Caesar" annually, then Caesar takes more of what isn't his whenever assets are sold or the owner dies.
In this country, people don't inherit land and property that originally was confiscated by a monarch. Property here is earned, and it ought to be our God-given right to pass it on to family without having it confiscated by government to be redistributed to the less fortunate. "Thou shalt not steal" applies to governments, not just to mortal man.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.