Letters to the Editor
Readers write about the downfall of the dollar and US image abroad, the value of school athletics, terrorism, and financial education.
Downfall of the dollar leads to poorer US image abroad
In response to the Nov. 8 article, "Dollar, oil prices, hint of inflation": This article more than hints at several crucial issues; it enables the reader to connect the dots between intangibles, such as Americans' image abroad and our measurable buying power at home.
This article spells out the inverse relationship between the falling value of the dollar against the euro and the rising price of oil.
It is also explained that the dollar's decline is directly related to the banking crisis, stemming from subprime lending and Americans' voracious appetite for credit.
Now we can begin to understand the connection between others' perceptions of us and the quality of life here at home. Essentially, it is an increasing sense overseas of the spendthrift American, who lives on credit and is wasteful that affects the value of the dollar, which in turn has a direct impact on the price of oil.
For example, China, one of the largest holders of US debt, now may dump dollars in favor of euros. International finance ministers, in making decisions like these, are doing so because they have less and less confidence in Americans' ability to live within their means.
How others perceive our ability to manage our money affects how much money we have to manage.
Athletes learn valuable lessons
Within the past week, the Monitor has published two significant articles about high school athletics. Jonathan Zimmerman's Opinion piece on Nov. 20, "America's addiction to sports," seems to suggest that too much emphasis is put on sports in high school. Mr. Zimmerman cites eating disorders among gymnasts, head injuries among football players, and the use of steroids as evidence that high school athletics are out of control.
What Zimmerman does not speak to, however, is the very essence of high school athletics, which is brought out clearly in the Nov. 26 article, "A Playbook for Life." This article does a good job of emphasizing the valuable life lessons that athletics teach.
Also, numerous university studies conducted over the past decade agree that, as a general rule, high school student-athletes have higher grade point averages than nonathletes (sometimes by as much as a full point), are absent from school for fewer days, cause fewer disciplinary problems, and have a higher rate of graduation.
While it would be foolish to discount the harm that steroids can cause, I would suggest that if America's teenagers are threatened by a serious addiction, it's to television, video games, and the Internet – not to sports. The most direct way to curb the use of steroids among high school athletes may be to reevaluate our own priorities.
Terrorism is always unacceptable
Regarding Didem Cakmakli's Nov. 19 Opinion piece, "How to erode Kurdish terror": Rights and freedoms of all Turkish citizens are under the protection of contemporary legal standards. Not only in Turkey, but in other countries, as well.
Sometimes there may be poor practices or wrongful acts, but all of these are to be remedied via legitimate channels, not by resorting to terrorism.
"Terrorism" is a term whose distinctive criteria relate to means and methods employed. It has nothing to do with the motives, or a political case, which, as a matter of fact, may even be legitimate. But nothing can excuse terrorism.
Let us respond to terrorists, considering the unacceptable means and methods they employ.
Subprimes alongside algebra
In response to the Nov. 29 article, "In housing downturn, a new uncertainty factor": Regarding subprimes, quick short-term solutions are needed. A drop in interest rates will quickly help adjustables.
For the longer-term solution, besides setting higher industry standards, the US needs better financial education. High schools often require two years of algebra and foreign-language study, but they should also offer financial classes. A required class would give students a good feel for risk in mortgages, other loans, credit cards, debt in general, and budgets.
Too many students can calculate a quadratic equation, in Spanish – on the way to bankruptcy court.
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