It takes a family to raise the global village

Any thinker would agree with the general sentiment in John Brandon's opinion piece that many of the world's children live in appalling circumstances ("The exploited child," Nov. 22). But the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is not the answer and should not be ratified by the United States.

In spite of some lofty declarations about children's rights, the convention is not founded on the view of the role of government and individual freedom that are the foundation of our way of life. It defines a parent's role as that of guaranteeing the rights set forth in the convention. It commands ratifying governments to assist parents, and establishes a legal framework for the seizure of children from parents who don't measure up to the broad and vague standards. I guess this is the "it takes a village" approach to families. Unfortunately for the convention, most people I know believe that it takes strong, free, individual families to raise a worthwhile village. And the UN has shown no evidence of embracing that truth.

Scott Laningham Austin Texas

No alimony for a spouse who left family

Regarding "In resurgence of alimony, new view of women" (Nov. 30): In California, the legislature has mandated that the court not ask, or know, who left whom or why. This is the so-called "no-fault" divorce law. Is it fair to saddle a responsible breadwinner with support for a spouse who arbitrarily leaves home and family?

We constantly hear that a woman needs a safe escape from an environment that may be dangerous to her and her offspring. No value is given to the responsibility of the female partner to the family relationship. The current milieu of creating endless guidelines for "fair" and "no-fault" escape from responsible, long-term commitments does nothing to solve the problem, and does much to exacerbate it. Legislating endless rights and freedoms with no commensurate requirement for responsible behavior, and funding this irresponsibility by stealing from those who do behave responsibly, is immoral.

Charles Cohn Folsom, Calif.

Two other ways to curb sprawl

Your article "Farmers plant seeds of revolt over sprawl" (Nov. 26) deals with two ways to limit sprawl: land-use restrictions and purchasing farmland to be put into park reserves. Both of these measures would involve various government agencies.

But two causes of urban sprawl are not mentioned. The first is the inheritance tax that frequently necessitates sales of farms by the heirs. They tend to sell to developers to get the best price. The other cause is deficient schools in large cities. Many city-dwellers are motivated to move to the suburbs for better schools even though they might prefer to remain in the city. These factors are government-imposed. It would be better to slow urban sprawl by correcting these conditions than by adding more government control.

Robert Trenn Houston, Texas

High fees for seniors in the classroom

Regarding "Retirement Communities for the PhD set," (Nov. 22): Is this not an elitist community? The home prices and the initial fee for the required enrollment in the academy are not out of proportion to those costs elsewhere, but the $600 monthly class fee seems exorbitant. I would suppose that among all the PhDs and other retirees, there would be some volunteers willing to teach these courses, either without remuneration or for modest fees.

As a member of one of the many institutes of continuing education for retirees, I pay a modest fee, attend peer-taught classes, university-level lectures, and am also able to audit courses at the University of Miami without paying tuition.

Mary Porter Wise Miami, Fla.

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