What's not measured in US exports

Your Feb. 28 article "Reading into the trade deficit" is interesting but it neglects one key point. The US government doesn't measure services! The export and import figures are structured towards objects, not thoughts and data. The US is moving toward a service-based economy and away from the more classical measures of productivity and investment such as tons of steel, number of particular objects, and so forth.

The real strength of the US economy is in its services, and the amount of money generated by US consultants is simply not measured. Until recently, there was no attempt by the government to measure the export of environmental services, and from a look at the way that the government is attempting to measure that, it really doesn't understand exports and what the services sector, nor the environmental sector, are really all about.

Dave Russell Lilburn, Ga. President, Global Environmental Operations, Inc.

Infrastructure need for Net

Your Feb. 25 editorial "Extending the Net" raised useful questions about how the Internet can be used for commerce in areas not served by dependable telecommunications and electricity.

It is unfortunate that your emphasis, and presumably the World Bank's $200 million investment, deals only with selling things to those currently not hooked up to the Internet. Commerce appropriate for the Internet is most successful where a solid knowledge infrastructure exists. Unless the proposed Internet commercial links also provide increased education, health, and new skills, commercial uses of the Internet will remain marginal at best in areas where banks, credit cards, and even local currencies are absent.

David Giltrow Santa Fe, N.M.

If we're going to make it possible for everyone to be connected to the Internet, why not carry it just a little farther. Why not make it possible for everyone to drive what ever car they want? Isn't there anything left anymore that should take a little self-reliance on the part of an individual? If it's going to be provided, someone is going to have to pay for it and I for one don't want to.

Rev. R.L. Hillerby Eufaula, Okla.

Silence in schools is not enough

A moment of silence may indeed have the advantage Andrew Schmooker envisages in his Feb. 23 opinion piece "The gift of a moment of silence." But how is such a ritual to be implemented? Silence merely means the absence of sound, prayerful or any other kind. Would students be free to observe the moment any way they choose? Or is each student's silent manner supposed to be conducive to prayer, if he or she is so inclined?

Those who seek solutions to the social travails of these troubled times need to explore remedies far beyond a moment of silence and far more acceptable than posting the Ten Commandments.

David Steinberg Alexandria, Va.

Give children equal vote in schools

Regarding your Feb. 22 articles "Chalk Talk" and "It's not always so easy to say you're fired!": Private, "democratic schools," such as Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Mass., have thrived for over 30 years using a hiring and firing system for staff and teachers in which the students have an equal vote, and thus the freedom and responsibility to choose their own teachers.

Schools based on this model have been started in Russia and Israel with much success. It is about time that we as a nation give up an authoritarian schooling system for educational reform that better fits our ideals as a democracy.

Angela Sevin Concord, California

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