Business Motives Distort US Policy

With regard to "Putting Fetters on Free Trade" (June 5), the argument for free trade is that the market's "invisible hand" always produces benefits for the country and its people. The Chinese missile scandal provides stark proof that this is pure sophistry. There is no reason to think that business firms operating in a "transnational" framework will have the same interests as any nation-state, or care about its people.

Loral's desire for China to have reliable missiles to launch its satellites - when that same technology would allow China to launch nuclear warheads at the US or its allies - demonstrates how narrow and self-interested this business outlook is. It cannot be the basis for American trade, defense, or foreign policy.

The charge that restraining trade will undermine American "leadership" begs the question: Who is leading, and where? Free trade means abdicating to the leadership of business, and we know that won't work. The moves in Congress indicate a lack of faith in President Clinton's leadership as well.

The "invisible hand" does not wave the flag of any nation. It's up to statesmen to wave the flag of their own people. Unfortunately, the Clinton administration dropped the flag and business trampled it under foot in a rush for foreign profits at any cost.

William R. Hawkins

Burke, Va.

Subsidizing sport stadiums

I really liked the article concerning the Denver stadium controversy, "Stadiums: a Trophy Taxpayers Refuse to Pay For" (June 17). In Canada, the question of subsidizing sports teams is once again becoming a hot issue.

The Ottawa Senators, a hockey team, are asking Canada's federal government for financial help because they cannot compete with American teams that pay less tax and are often more subsidized. In fact, National Hockey League commissioner Garry Bettman said that the Ottawa Senators pay more real estate taxes than all the other 20 American teams combined. Canadian owners argue that if the federal government does not subsidize their teams, they will not be able to compete with American teams that can afford escalating salaries.

Some legal experts are questioning whether the greater American subsidization of sports teams contravenes the competition regulations included in NAFTA. In general, American teams have tax advantages that Canadian teams can only dream about while the Canadian dollar is at a record low.

However, many Canadians, including many hockey fans, are not buying the bluff. Health care, education, and tax cuts are bigger priorities for many Canadian families.

Paul MacDonald

Gloucester, Ontario

Education incentives

Thank you for your excellent editorial "Saving Public Education" (June 16) on the need to promote public education. I agree with your editorial that our lawmakers should focus their efforts on promoting public, not private, educational opportunities for our children.

In Arizona, some school districts have implemented a creative approach to improving public education programs. Parents are provided with an opportunity to rate the school system. If a majority of parents are satisfied with the quality of the school district and give the district the grade of "A," school personnel - administrators, teachers, custodians - receive a salary bonus.

Bonuses for school personnel can be a useful approach toward improving our public school system. It should be tried elsewhere.

Paul Feiner

Greenburgh, N.Y.

Greenburgh Town Supervisor

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