Before world trade, strengthen local economies

I surely will not be the first to take issue with Murray Weidenbaum's Dec. 16 column "Globalization myths," which attempted to counter arguments against the World Trade Organization.

His brash statement that the antiglobalist agenda would result in a severe decline in United States standards would be very difficult to substantiate.

The assertion that "there is no evidence of any public health threat from genetically engineered foods" is also problematic. The truth is that no one yet knows what the long-term effects might be on world ecology or life itself.

Yet, the WTO decrees that consumers worldwide must not only accept such foods but they must not be permitted to know what they are buying. The WTO version of free trade does not apply to consumers.

Transporting food across oceans and vast land miles uses a lot of energy, increases pollution, and doesn't improve the freshness and quality of the food. But it boosts corporate profits. Can this system really be good for the majority of ordinary people?

Wouldn't we and our earth be healthier (and possibly wealthier) if we worked to make our local economies as self-sufficient as possible before we started branching out into world trade?

We would certainly all be wiser if we had a worldwide comprehensive and objective study assessing the results of the past five years of WTO global rule before moving any farther in this direction.

More facts, please, and less propaganda.

Alma Howard Salem, Ore.

More private preschools

Your article "Preschool for all: Has the time come?" (Dec. 17) wisely placed a question mark on the subject.

Added tax responsibilities on Americans for preschool activities is an unnecessary and additional financial burden and could interfere with much needed and long overdue restructuring, such as smaller schools and smaller classrooms.

In recent years, private schools, home schooling, and church schools have taken a giant leap forward. Many churches have preschool classes that are smaller; thus the parents, teachers, and young, impressionable children have a closer bonding with spiritual and family values. Could this be a wake-up call for more churches to sponsor preschool classes?

Because the US Constitution does not mention education, the responsiblity for it belongs with the parents and within individual states.

It is quite possible that constructive steps could be taken to improve what is already available.

Ann Clark Alexandria, Va.

Hillary doesn't get my vote

In your Dec. 13 article "White House adjusts to an absent first lady," about Hillary Rodham Clinton and her political aspirations, you quote Gail Sheehy, author of "Hillary's Choice": "[Hillary] has always thought that mankind must be channeled and controlled, and politics is the means...."

I find this greatly disturbing. It indicates the type of person I care not to see in political office.

Lila W. Williams Manlius, N.Y.

Vivid reporting

Thank you for Scott Peterson's informative and exciting article about his travels through Afghanistan ("Afghanistan tales, or why I stopped shaving," Dec. 21). His reporting brought aspects of this remote country alive. This type of in-depth reporting makes the Monitor invaluable to my understanding of the world.

Eric A. Houghton Dunedin, Fla.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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