Making the Case for Limited Missile Defense

Regarding the article "Star Wars in the Land of Oz," July 9: The congressman who wrote this is dead wrong when he states that "most knowledgeable scientists and military strategists have walked away from this program." Recent successful experiments, and indeed the interception of Scud missiles with the Patriot, are ample evidence of the technical feasibility of missile defense.Even the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Democrat Les Aspin, agrees that technological feasibility is not the issue. Aspin believes that the real issue is an emerging consensus in Congress on deploying some form of missile defense. The only question dividing most experts is exactly what kind of defense. In an attempt to resolve that issue, the president has called for a refocusing of the SDI program to a version called Global Protection Against Limited Strikes (GPALS), which would provide protection against limited ballistic-missile attacks. It would defend against accidental or unauthorized launches from the Soviet Union or attacks by third-world countries on our allies, our forces abroad, or the continental US. The latter is a real concern, for the CIA estimates that by the year 2000 some 24 third-wor ld countries will possess ballistic missiles. GPALS will cost about $46 billion over 14 years or $6 billion to $7 billion a year, roughly 2 percent of the defense budget. US Rep. Jon Kyl, Washington

Loans and liability The article "Loan Scams Anger City Minorities," July 8, casts aspersions on an entire industry because of the accusations made by community activists in Boston. You say contractors "especially like to prey on elderly homeowners." Where is the evidence for that assertion? My research shows most home-improvement loans are to middle aged people. Very few loans are made to those over 65. The author states that contractors "often work as middle men for high-interest mortgage companies." I recently wrote a study on this question and found that contractors are typically self-employed carpenters whose motivation is to get home-improvement work. They can't do this if the home owner has no money. So they are in the position of seeking lenders to buy loans that will finance their work. In the current market very few lenders will buy such loans. The courts also have been ruthless in invoking the "holder in due course" provision, which makes the lender liable for shoddy work done by the contractor. Major lenders won't touch high risk/high interest loans. They fear attack by community activists and newspapers. My research shows only 5 percent of all second mortgages are at interest rates above 16 percent. It is always a shame when someone's home is foreclosed, especially if the borrower is elderly. But lenders don't seek out loans they think will go into foreclosure because they lose money on foreclosures. The current high rate of foreclosures in Massachusetts has more to do with the recession in that state than "unscrupulous home-improvement contractors" and lenders. David A. Olson, Budd Lake, N.J., SMR Research Corporation

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