The Struggle for Open Primaries

The article "Liberals for Buchanan? Maybe in California" (Aug. 5) raises interesting issues, but it fails to address an important element of this debate: the impact of open primaries on nonpartisan voters.

In my state, Pennsylvania, closed primaries mean that those who are registered with "no party affiliation" can vote only on ballot questions; they can't vote for individual candidates in primary elections. Open primaries would allow a nonpartisan voter who supports a particular candidate to cast a vote for that candidate earlier in the electoral process, rather than hoping the candidate survives the primary.

I suspect that more than a few voters are disenchanted enough to refuse to register with one party, and yet still support certain individuals campaigning under the auspices of the major parties. Why should their endorsement of these candidates be delayed by discriminatory closed primaries?

Closed primaries are antithetical to a healthy and viable democratic process. Here's hoping California's Proposition 198 passes and encourages other states to follow suit.

Amanda Berson-Shilcock


Part-time and proud of it

Regarding your editorial "Part-Time vs. Full-Time" (Aug. 7): You are right to point out that many of us enjoy and want to be part-time workers. As a UPS employee, I work from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It's perfect for me. I can attend college during the day. Most of all, it gives me time to pursue other interests in my evolving life. Being a "part-timer" makes me no less productive or loyal to the company. In fact, being able to balance my life more equally between work and home has made me happier and, therefore, more productive at home and at work.

Kimberly Upfield

Farmers Branch, Texas

School choice? Then equal schools

The article "Texas Pushes Harder to Make School Work" (July 31) shows how misunderstood our public school system is, and what "school choice" should mean. Public schools should be equally funded and staffed, regardless of the neighborhood, and the "choice" should simply be between excellent schools with different approaches to education. If a school is substandard, the solution is not to encourage the best students to transfer out, but rather to improve the school.

As long as schools are unequal, school choice allows a few students to move to a better school while impressing upon those left behind that they are inferior. In fact, the boy used as an example in the article could only attend the school of his choice if the students at his school continued to do poorly. This qualification for choice divides communities along economic lines. A few students benefit at the expense of the rest; the "bad" schools can only get worse as good students and money leave.

Equality, not school choice, is what will restore trust in America's public schools.

Suzanne Soul

Vista, Calif.

Distribution system is the culprit

The opinion-page article "Electric Industry: Let the Competition Begin" (Aug. 11) misses an important point. Even with electric utility deregulation, neither Canada nor the Midwest will be able to compete with electric generating stations in the Northeast. The cost of transmitting electric power across state lines is very high. For example, if electricity were available for free at Niagara Falls, by the time it got to New York City, it would be cheaper to generate the power in Manhattan.

As a residential customer I pay 7.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. The bakery a block away pays about 1 cent per kilowatt-hour. The rate differential stems from transmission economies of scale. If bills in the Northeast are high, then the Northeastern distribution system - not the generating system - is the main culprit.

Marc Abel

Columbus, Ohio

Your letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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