Congress and 'Freedom From Want'

The opinion-page column "Goal of US Food Aid: Self-Sufficiency or Dependence?," Aug. 1, accurately describes some dilemmas that exist in providing food aid; it states that "Congress, alas, has strayed from a clear vision of the appropriate objectives of foreign aid." Regarding food aid, at least, we are returning to the original intent.The 101st Congress rewrote the law governing the provision of humanitarian food aid as part of the 1990 Farm Bill. Many of the changes were made to fix some of the specific problems the author discusses. For example, a new program called "Food for Develop- ment" was created for countries with the greatest need for food aid. But the program goes further, by using the money generated by the sale of food for purposes such as "the promotion of specific policy reforms to improve food security and agricultural development within the country and to promote broad-based, equitable, and sustainable development." The author cites my bill (HR 2258) as the centerpiece in the movement to elevate freedom from want to the level of freedom of speech or religion, but argues that "a right does not mean much unless it can be enforced." I agree. My bill proposes a UN Convention on the Right to Food and Humanitarian Assistance and calls for the creation of a UN Permanent Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, who would be responsible for enforcing the convention and protecting the right to food for victims of famine. US Rep. Tony P. Hall (D) of Ohio

Bringing peace to drug war Regarding the editorial "Drug War Cooperation," Aug. 5: We are spending huge sums of money to propagate a civil war in Colombia and to a lesser extent here at home. In any war, there are always the innocents who are killed or injured. The "war on drugs" fosters violence and keeps supply of drugs limited and extremely profitable. The only way to bring peace into the equation is by regulated legalization of drugs, just as with alcohol and tobacco. Regulated legalization would virtually eliminate drug-related violence and reduce the profit and thereby get drug dealers off our streets peacefully and much more quickly. We would then have a huge peace dividend of billions of dollars, which are now spent on drug enforcement, available for treatment and education. Joe Reesman, Rockville Centre, N.Y.

New attitude on the deficit The opinion-page column "What the US Can't Afford," Aug. 6, notes that $210 billion of the expected deficit for fiscal 1992 is interest due on existing debt. Some years back, I worked out figures showing how the very first dollar of deficit incurred in 1933 had already incurred $35 in interest. I suspect that figure is closer to $50 today - and the original dollar is still outstanding. The only way out of the problem is the adoption by every American, and certainly every elected representative, of the attitude that we must work not just for pet local pork-barrel projects, certain neighborhoods, constituents, or states, but for the good of all, for the long term, starting now. Robert B. Henn, Fort Washington, Pa.

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