Internet Access and the Poor

I question the author's concern for the underprivileged in "Information Gap Breeds Techno-Underclass" (July 6). While he rightly points out that "computers and networked information pervade American life," one should ask who gains the most from online banking, shopping, and entertainment - those who use these little luxuries or corporate America? Are the poor in this country really in need of new ways to spend money they don't have? And how disadvantaged are you if you lack access to the Net for "interpersonal communication?" The last time I checked, people still manage to socialize just fine at work, at home, over the phone, and at weekend barbeques.

There seems to be an excessive adulation for the wonders of the Internet these days. The Net provides us with information and entertainment, and it sells us things like some hybrid megalibrary-supertelevision-catalogue store. It falls far short of being a panacea for education and opportunity. It does not teach children (or adults) how to think, how to be creative, how to socialize, or how to achieve the most out of life. Without these abilities, access to virtually unlimited information is meaningless. The problem of poverty in this country is a real one and needs to be addressed seriously. Plugging the poor in is not the solution.

Nils Junge

New York

The American autoworker

In "What's Good for GM..." (July 2), the author neglected to mention two of the most significant "policy decisions" that have precipitated the loss of United Auto Workers Union jobs: (1) decades of siphoning productivity-enhancing (hence, wage-enhancing) capital away from the Big Three via taxation, and (2) the suicidal adoption of a "more pay for less production" ethos by the union.

Because Toyota can produce as many units as GM with only 25 to 30 percent as many workers (earning as much or more than their American counterparts), the imperative for GM to improve labor productivity is obvious. The author seems to imply that UAW workers are entitled to their jobs' inferior productivity and that America would be better off if protectionist policies compelled American consumers to subsidize that inferior productivity indefinitely.

High-paying factory jobs are not disappearing in America, but they are evolving into the high-tech arena. The American auto-worker's destiny is similar to that already experienced by the American farmer - fewer will be needed to produce their product, which means that there will be more workers available to meet the multiplying economic demands of tomorrow. I know from experience how much it hurts to be laid off and have to start over, and I have great compassion for workers who experience this challenge. But I also am convinced that economic evolution and progress cannot be halted, and our country and its workers will be poorer if we strive to preserve the past through government intervention.

Mark Hendrickson

New Wilmington, Pa.

Investigative journalism

Bravo to Warren Richey for the human rights investigative piece "American's Two Years in Latin Jail" (July 6). This kind of original piece brings an individual issue into the spotlight and also teaches the reader about broader issues of criminal justice.

Outstanding. The Monitor recaptures the "watchdog" function of the American media, involving a significant illustrative case involving both domestic and international angles. I intend to put a link to this piece on the Web site I run as an example of the watchdog function in an area that involves both American and overseas issues.

Frederic A. Moritz

Brookline, Mass.

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