School vouchers leave others behind

Regarding your article "Courts curtail school voucher movement" (March 16): The short argument against school vouchers is, first, they are unconstitutional. Second, rather than address why a school's performance is less than adequate, it allows some, but not all, children to escape to another school. The reduced resources for the children remaining at the poorly performing school will create another poorly educated layer to the lower class rather than give all of our children an equal opportunity to succeed in the future.

In a country where we pride ourselves on unlimited opportunities, support for school vouchers is a selfish way to keep a lot of children from a more successful life.

David Bible Fort Worth, Texas

Gun laws are best enforced locally

Your March 17 editorial "Lax gun enforcement?" is right in calling for tough enforcement of our criminal laws, but enforcement of criminal laws, including "gun" laws, is a matter for local law enforcement. There are fewer than 100 US Attorneys. They have their hands full prosecuting the myriad of federal statutes and rely on local prosecutors, cross-designated as special assistant US Attorneys, to pick up some of the workload that comes with the increase in federal criminal jurisdiction. On the other hand, there are almost 3,000 local prosecutors, and we try over 90 percent of all criminal cases in the United States, including gun law violations. Often, when there's a federal law as well as a state law involved in a crime, the federal prosecutor will defer to the local prosecutor, who is better acquainted with the local situation and better staffed to handle it.

Thus, even as federal prosecutions are purported to have declined, the number of cases brought in local courts has increased. Aside from the heated rhetoric on the issue, the fact is that local prosecutors are prosecuting more gun law violations than ever and there is no void in enforcement of our gun laws.

Stuart VanMevern Alexandria, Va. Pres., National District Attorneys Assc.

Taiwan as a democratic model

Regarding your March 20 article "An olive branch for China": People in Taiwan have elected Chen Shui-bian, who is an opponent of the Nationalist Party, as their next president. The real challenge to the People's Republic of China in the coming months and years will not be Taiwan's quest for independence. President-elect Chen Shui-bian, who will have the responsibility for Taiwan's well-being and security, is not likely to take Taiwan to a dangerous confrontation with China.

China's fear is the success of Taiwan's democratic process that will inspire the people on the mainland to think that the People's Republic of China can have a democratic system, and that the Communist Party can be replaced by a peaceful and democratic process, for which Taiwan is the model. If Taiwan chooses to be independent from China as a nation, the power of nationalism will unite the people behind their government.

This will help us understand why Beijing concentrates its strong criticism of Taiwan on the independence issue - to divert the people's attention from Taiwan's attractive democracy. But people in mainland China will begin to think that Taiwan's multi-party system can and should be a realistic alternative for China, too.

Constantine Tung Buffalo, N.Y.

Correction: Monday's March 20 editorial "No Regrets Over Taiwan" had the wrong date for Taiwan's last presidential election. The correct date is 1996.

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