Idea of a Nuclear 'Umbrella' Is All Wet

The excellent article "Bush Makes Historic Call to Cut A-Arms," Sept. 30, perpetuates a very grave conceptual error in its subheadline.The subhead reads: "As the clouds of the cold war recede, the US proposes folding much of its nuclear umbrella." Nuclear umbrella? That suggests nuclear weapons are some sort of Mary Poppins contraption that will save us in the event of nuclear attack. Nonsense! Nuclear weapons are no shield. They are suicide machines and nothing else, whether they are our own or those of any other power. I applaud the steps Presidents Bush and Gorbachev are taking to reduce this threat. But please, let's keep it clear that we are reducing the common nuclear menace, not exposing ourselves to ruin by folding our nuclear "umbrella." If we are prisoners of the latter conception, we will be manipulated right back into the nuclear arms race. Earl L. Heuer, Grand Rapids, Mich. President, Institute for Global Education

Employing productivity The column "Ecology Economics," Sept. 26, says the US needs "a more enlightened environmental attitude that expands employment instead of adding to the divisiveness. How's that for the vision thing?" My answer: not too good. The increased productivity that is responsible for much of our well-being is the result of increasing capital in the form of technology, knowledge, and health - what economists call physical and human capital. Steps that reduce this in favor of creating jobs could very easily reduce our standard of living while reducing damage to the environment. We need to ask the question: Was the reduction in standard of living worth the reduction in environmental damage? A better question is: How we can increase productivity while simultaneously reducing adverse environmental impacts? Richard Weber, West Long Branch, N.J.

Is it art? Regarding the article "John McCarty: A Cultivator of the Unexpected," Sept. 30: I regret that you give a double-page spread to the subhuman and meaningless works of Mr. McCarty, to wit, the fabrications of stone and bent metal. According to eminent art critic Bernard Berenson, to have value, art should be life-enhancing; and bold would be the person who could say that the art of John McCarty, despite all the adjectives spent on him in this article, is in any way life-enhancing. Eugene H. Walker, Concord, Mass.

Wordy but lyrical Thank you for the review "Thomas Wolfe's Lost Novel," Sept. 30, about the new book "The Good Child's River." Wolfe has been one of my idols for years and has seemed to be forgotten. It is good to see his value and stature recognized. "Too wordy," they said - but what lyrical writing. Virginia Alston, Potomac, Md.

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