Letters to the Editor
Readers write about the cost of cleaner cars, why mandatory public service would be a good thing for the US, and how the people of Russia and the US can help their countries' relations.
Cleaner cars are not necessarily more costly
In regard to the Jan. 27 article, "Cleaner cars, costlier cars": Cars that meet the 2020 standards for fuel economy exist today. Look at the Prius. It's only when we start with the premise that we need to drive Hummer-sized vehicles that we come to the conclusion that it will take a lot of money to reach future fuel economy standards.
Starting now, we can build energy-efficient cars, but doing so will require changes. We need to require that all vehicles meet new, Prius-like fuel standards. In addition, we need to change the way our cars are made. We need to wrap our cars in plastic bodies. These will be lighter, more durable, and easier to repair. We need to examine every feature on every car. If a feature doesn't contribute to safety and fuel efficiency, we need to remove or redesign it. As a result of changes like these, we may no longer have 4,000-pound cars capable of speeds up to 150 miles per hour, but we will have efficient, well-designed cars that meet our needs in the 21st century.
Yes, tough decisions will need to be made, but we are capable of making them. We need to start by saying "No" to the old thinking that fuel efficiency and protecting the environment are expensive and bad for business. Implementing the technologies we have today, we can start saving billions of dollars, cut our trade deficit, and protect the environment. Let's not wait until 2020.
St. Louis, Mo.
Mandatory civic service is a good idea
Regarding the Jan. 26 Opinion piece, "Obama can instill civic responsibility – through a mandatory Youth Corps": My heart warmed when I read William Babcock's commentary about a mandatory Youth Corps. I've been dreaming that someday all US citizens would be required to serve our country.
The rewards Mr. Babcock mentions (room and board while serving and, upon completion of service, two years' worth of post-high school education) make good sense. I'd be much happier for my tax money to go for that than for war machinery.
Peter O. Lane
Citizens can aid US-Russia relations
In regard to the Jan. 26 Opinion piece, "How to warm US-Russian relations": This commentary was both wise and very welcome. Thank you for bringing it to your readers. I hope that national policies will soon go even further toward discovering how normal relations between our nations can be built by tapping into the lives of the people themselves.
This is a surprisingly underused resource the world over. The Russian people's abilities and talents constitute a considerable resource, one that would uncover much common ground and many mutual benefits. In so many areas – culture, technology, science – they have much to contribute to a partnership of progress.
Having lived and worked in Russia for almost a decade, I have experienced too much of this productive partnership not to hope for the day when ordinary people will be actively called upon to build normal relations between our countries.
Jeannie J. Ferber
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