Milk subsidies: more than efficiency at stake Your Sept. 25 editorial "Milk money" about the milk-farm subsidy needs to be further researched.

The support system for milk is meant to assure that farmers will not start a year-long process only to find at the end that they have gone into the "hole" financially because of market fluctuation or shifts in the political winds.

The pricing of milk currently makes milk producers (not farmers) in California and Texas the most "efficient" producers of milk. Producing milk and being a farmer are not the same animal. I am not a farmer, but as a small-business person, I can see that small-farm families cannot compete against giant corporations like Borden Inc. when it comes to producing milk. Giant feedlot operations will never be farms.

Farmers do more than produce milk. They add to the local economy through purchasing from local suppliers; their families add to the community through participation in schools and churches; and they support local goodwill projects. The best farmers also act as stewards for the ever-decreasing amount of open lands and woodlands. There is a renewed interest in Wisconsin in sustainable agriculture that can only begin to work on a local level.

I do not believe any American would want to start a business that does not have the potential to at least break even. The American consumer will be ill-served in the long run when milk production is no longer in the hands of many farmers but in the hands of a few large corporations. Patrick Grace, Alma, Wis.

The cream of the classical crop Classical music, as delivered by today's orchestras, suffers from a flaw your article omits: The conductors and musicians are tired of playing the same old "great" music from the past and so weave in new works and obscure works - many of which are deservedly obscure ("Classical music needs new top 40," Sept. 17).

To get people to plunk down $25 or much more for a ticket, then drive somewhere, park, and go sit in an auditorium at a prearranged time, you have to offer them something pretty exciting and satisfying. Most art is mediocre. What has survived in the classical music canon are the best works, which have passed the test of time. Ninety percent or more of what is being written today for the world's orchestras will be forgotten 25 years from now.

Play the best music the world has to offer. Play it well. Educate the audience. Do things to make concerts more user-friendly. But play the stuff that will thrill the audience. Play Beethoven's Ninth and the "William Tell Overture." That's a program I would consider going to. And I'd leave with melodies in my head that I could hum. Mike McLeod, Federal Way, Wash.

Who pays for tobacco penalties? Whatever penalty Big Tobacco ultimately pays for its sins is actually going to to be paid by its future victims. Isn't this odd? It's like seeking compensation from a thief who can only pay you back for what he took by stealing from someone else. I recommend ownership of the entire tobacco industry be turned over to its past victims. Then we can see what they do with it. Scott D. Herold, M.D., Pacific Grove, Calif.

In praise of liberal arts education Thank you for your Sept. 21 article, "The very model of a modern major." What I gained from my liberal arts education - the process of learning, building community, and communicating well - continues to benefit me long after some of the details of the coursework have faded. Long live liberal arts learning! Michael Menner, Minneapolis, Minn.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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