Making 'Superfund' cleanup work better In your editorial "Superfund Revisited" (Feb. 9), you suggest that the principle of having the "polluter pay" should be retained.
While this phrase has the appearance of common sense and righteousness - bad people should, after all, pay for doing bad things - my experience with many Superfund sites suggests that the reality is neither sensible nor fair. For one, the "polluter" rarely pays, because the pollution, more often than not, happened 20, 30, 50, or even 100 or more years ago. The persons responsible are often retired or deceased. While there were cases of abuse, much Superfund work deals with sites in which wastes were handled in ways that were then believed totally appropriate and reasonable for that time, in many cases with knowledge and approval of government agencies.
Superfund works so badly because it is a simplistic and unfair solution to a complex societal problem. We have decided to make a small number of individuals pay because society's collective understanding of and tolerance for the hazards of chemicals changed much faster than the chemicals' longevity in the environment.
If we really want to fix Superfund, which badly needs fixing, we need to understand the complexity of the underlying situation and the unfairness of the solution.
Daniel W. Smith Lafayette Hill, Pa.
Balkan war: economic solution Western intervention in Yugoslavia will not resolve the Kosovo crisis. It will exacerbate it - forcing Kosovo Albanians and Serbs to rally behind their misguided leaders ("NATO scenarios for Kosovo," Feb. 19).
One-sided intervention in a civil war never resolves it. The Serbs are being threatened with bombing when there are no similar and symmetric threats against the Kosovo Albanian leadership. As Yugoslavia has not threatened any NATO-member nations, NATO has no legal basis to intervene in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation no matter how tragic they may appear.
The civil wars of the former Yugoslavia were initiated by the failing economies in the region which were exploited by irresponsible leaders. If we really want to help the tortured peoples of the Balkans, we must help Yugoslavia improve its economy so that Albanian and Serbian leaders will no longer have a scapegoat to rouse their respective peoples against one another. Let Yugoslavia join the European Union. This would have averted the conflict in the first place.
Michael Pravica, Yonkers, N.Y. Vice president, Serbian Alliance
The Monitor as school aid The Monitor is so relevant in our family. Last Monday, our nine-year-old daughter came home with a school assignment to write about space. The next day, the Monitor ran a story on the Home Forum page for kids about space ("Elementary-school kids put their ideas into orbit," Feb. 9). She took it to school to the delight of her teacher.
Also, our daughter complained about the amount of swear words some of the kids are using in class. She went to school with another relevant article, "Signs of swearing off swearing" (Feb. 9), in her backpack. Thanks for the contribution the Monitor is making to our family and the world.
Suzanne and Dan Liebenrood, Boston
What Cubans want for Cuba In response to your editorial "Thinking Past Castro" (Feb. 17): You ask, "What does Washington want in Cuba?" How arrogant! What does it matter what Washington wants. What matters is what Cubans want for Cuba. What do Cubans want for Cuba? A chance to test the strength of their system without the blockade.
Judy Robbins, Sedgwick, Maine
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail, only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. Letters must be signed and include your telephone number and city. Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to email@example.com