Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the S-CHIP social program, approval voting in elections, reducing greasy food intake and obesity, and a women music director.

S-CHIP: A would-be success story for social programs

The Oct. 1 article "Why Bush resists child health bill" attempts to give a balanced overview of the issues surrounding the threatened presidential veto of the bill funding the S-CHIP program; however, it misses the primary reason for the conservative establishment's opposition to the bill.

As is the case with many other programs that Republicans have frequently opposed, they are not afraid of the program's failure – they fear its success.

A well-funded social program that works well is a thorn in the conservatives' side.

Successful social programs make it more difficult to offer blanket opposition to social spending as "frivolous" use of taxpayer-supplied funds.

William Kristol, a conservative ideologue, summed up the position in his appearance on Fox News on Sunday: "[W]henever I hear anything described as a heartless assault on our children, I tend to think it's a good idea. I'm happy that the president's willing to do something bad for the kids."

Mr. Kristol gets paid to be smug. The rest of us cannot afford such callousness.

VICTOR STEINBOK

Needham, Mass.

A proposal of approval voting

Regarding John Anderson's Sept. 28 Opinion piece, "Let the most popular candidate win": There are some serious defects in the single transferable vote (STV) system. Suppose, for instance, that there are three candidates, A, B, and C, and three groups of voters; 36 percent of the voters have A as their first preference, 30 percent have B as their first preference, and 34 percent have C as their first preference.

But candidate B is the second preference of all whose first preference is A or C.

Then it is easy to see that B would have beaten A by 64 percent to 36 percent and beaten C by 66 percent to 34 percent. And yet, B will be eliminated in the first round! Either A or C will be the "winner."

Also, as is well known, in STV, a voter can actually harm a candidate by voting for him! This paradoxical property, called nonmonotonicity, makes STV quite a risky method.

A much better method is the nonconfrontational method called Approval Voting, first published by Steven Brams of New York University, where a voter can approve of more than one candidate and the candidate with the most approvals will win. Apart from its other advantages, such a method would put an end to negative campaigning.

Rohit Parikh
New York

Reduce greasy foods and obesity

In response to your Sept. 28 editorial, "Deciding on dinner": Government must make it illegal to serve greasy food if we want to curtail the undesirable obesity problem.

It must also control the immoral, dishonest, detrimental use of hormones to enhance production in farm animals. There is no better way to reduce hormones, toxins, and fats from the American diet.

John Sandoval
Bastrop, Texas

Another women music director

Regarding the Sept. 28 article, "Marin Alsop breaks the glass baton," Marin Alsop is not the first woman to be music director of a major symphony orchestra. JoAnn Falletta is music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic, with a similar record of audience and artistic success as recorded in the article on Ms. Alsop. The Buffalo Philharmonic has been considered a major orchestra for decades, with such illustrious former music directors as William Steinberg, Michael Tilson Thomas, Lukas Foss, and Semyon Bychkov.

Kevin Hagen
Albuquerque, N.M.

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 may appear in print or 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 OpEd.

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