Don't Use Tax Dollars To Buy Good Taste on TV
In the opinion-page article "Commercial TV Can't Do PBS's Job," May 22, the author notes that "[p]ublic broadcasting is as urgently needed now as 30 years ago."
I agree with the author that commercial TV is often tasteless, degrading, and insulting; I disagree that "federal support ... should be increased." A careful study of the United States Constitution fails to reveal any support for governmental intrusion into the field of what citizens may or must hear. The point is not how much we spend in comparison with other countries, but rather that the US government has no business spending any of the people's money on anything not supported in the Constitution.
The government may not take my tax money to support the author's religion, no matter how beneficial; it likewise may not take my tax money to support the author's political or cultural agenda, no matter how desirable.
Robert B. Henn Kalamazoo, Mich.
Laissez-faire solution unfair for Brazil
The article "More 'Mature' Brazil Rapidly Moves to End an Era of State Ownership," June 9, is one-sided.
I would like to hear more from the almost 50 percent of the Brazilian population opposed to the "flexibilization" and eventual privatization of the Brazilian economy.
Many people believe that it is patently undemocratic, and a violation of sovereignty, to have the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and foreign governments and investors dictate behind-the-scenes changes to Brazil's Constitution. Many are also concerned that profitable state industries (such as petroleum and mining), built on their tax dollars, could be sold to large investors at bargain-basement prices.
There is a reason for having an active state, even more so in one of the most unequal societies in the world. The Brazilian private sector has proved totally incapable of resolving land, housing, child poverty, unemployment, and health questions. Unfortunately, up until now so has Brazil's state. We should, however, be careful not to rush from one ideological panacea (too much state involvement) to another (too little).
Most societies that have decently fed, housed, and clothed people did not get to where they are by laissez-faire solutions alone.
Erich D. Mathias New York
Ounce of diplomacy worth pound of force
Hooray for the editorial "Dollars for Diplomacy," May 26. Our foreign-aid program ought not to be savaged, thereby undercutting diplomacy and placing more reliance on military solutions. The public would opt for a more sensible approach. A poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland indicated that respondents thought that foreign aid ought to be 5 percent of the federal budget rather than the current figure of 1 percent.
The public remains sadly misinformed about the relative size of both foreign aid and our military budget, thinking that the former consumes the lion's share of the federal budget while blissfully unaware that our bloated and wasteful defense spending eats up half of discretionary spending. This veteran wants a mean, lean defense posture; more funds for foreign aid; and an upgraded, strengthened United Nations as alternatives to our nation becoming the reluctant policeman of the world.
Eric Cox Washington Executive Director Campaign for UN Reform