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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about what qualifies a person for citizenship in a country, underemployed white-collar workers, and using nuclear waste as a source of energy.

November 14, 2008



Citizenship should not be based on place of birth

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Regarding the Nov. 12 article, "Defining 'Greek": This story notes that members of the Greek diaspora can get a Greek passport easily, while non-Greeks born in Greece are not granted citizenship as though it is somehow inconsistent. But it is not inconsistent at all. Greece awards citizenship based on the status of the parents. If two Greeks in New York have a child, that child is automatically eligible for Greek citizenship. Similarly, if two Filipinos have a child in Greece, that child is also eligible for Filipino citizenship. If two Americans temporarily or illegally living in China had a baby there, would they expect that the baby be considered Chinese?

The United States is one of the few countries in the world that awards birthright citizenship. This came about after the Civil War, with the ratification of the 14th Amendment. This Amendment to the Constitution was originally designed to give the children of freed slaves a stake in the United States. Unfortunately, in recent years, the 14th Amendment has been subject to the law of unintended consequences, because the citizenship of a child of illegal immigrants (sometimes referred to as an "anchor baby") is used to bring scores of foreign relatives to the United States.

The arguments that Athina Bontigao makes in favor of Greek citizenship are extremely similar to those made by illegal aliens in America who were brought here as babies: that they feel American, that they are native speakers of English, that they are culturally American, and it would be cruel to return them to a country they have never known. If one thinks about this argument, it shows how ridiculous birthright citizenship is. It is axiomatic that a country should be able to control its own identity, which includes who it invites in and who it lets stay.

Michael G. Brautigam
Cincinnati, Ohio

White-collar jobless are overlooked

In regard to the Nov. 10 article, "Are jobless next to need a bailout?": Kudos to the Monitor for taking a hard look at the state of employment. One point that is consistently overlooked is how many white-collar people are underemployed and are not counted as part of the jobless. There are many people who have college degrees, – PhDs, MBAs – and years of good experience who simply can't find work. Until that is recognized, addressed, and opportunities created, we will still have high unemployment.

Rebecca Kun
Portland,Ore.

Tap nuclear waste for more energy

Regarding the Nov. 12 Opinion piece, "The US nuclear waste issue – solved": This commentary contains a single sentence that is very important: "During the cool-down period, used fuel could be transformed from waste into a major source of energy if we can satisfy the tough engineering, cost, and security challenges involved in reprocessing it."

This is the answer to the nuclear waste problem. Don't bury nuclear fuel that still contains a valuable source of energy. Belgium, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, and India are all reprocessing nuclear fuel. I can see no valid reason why we should not pursue this energy option in an aggressive way, as well.

The US needs a major program to harness our scientific and technical talent to produce a nuclear power option that maximizes the energy output of our nuclear reactors while at the same time minimizing the waste stream associated with that effort. When we decided to go to the moon, we did it, and we can turn a major source of fear into a major source of fuel.

Robert D. Vessels
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

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