Central Europe Needs Investment, Not Charity

While Poland's economic reformers have certainly not been beyond reproach, the Opinion page article "Review IMF in E. Europe," April 9, simply repeats the litany of problems the Polish population faces without offering any legitimate alternatives.

The author suggests that the last three Polish governments and President Lech Walesa are either too dumb, too callous, or too subservient to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to realize that a third path to reforms actually exits. But would political instability and social unrest really be less pervasive, and democracy more stable, if increased government spending led to a return of hyperinflation, the collapse of the zloty, and panic buying?

Would a "longer time horizon," during which Poland's grossly inefficient state companies would continue to waste the country's scarce resources, really increase Poland's standard of living?

Rather than transforming the IMF from a financial institution into a charity, Western governments should do everything in their power to encourage investments into Central Europe, thus easing the pressure on the region's embattled reformers. Colleen Mihailovich, Washington, Executive Director, The Central Europe Institute Water for Western ecosystems

Regarding the Opinion page article "Let Markets Allocate Water - With Brakes," April 6: In the arid Western US, water is currently allocated by a system mired in the narrow viewpoints of the 19th century. Reform is desparately needed.

The author omits a major factor left out of those 19th-century calculations, and still missing from his reformist worldview. The potentially significant costs to third parties from market-driven reallocations completely ignores the requirements of the supporting ecosystems of the West. The systems that support wild plant and animal inhabitants need water just as much as the human inhabitants.

All humans are at risk when we ignore the needs of the ecosystems. Yet ecosystems don't have bank accounts which make them competitive in the water market the author advocates. Forrest Hesselbarth, Grangeville, Idaho

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