Stay-at-home moms deserve better benefits

As a mother of four children (now grown and self-supporting), I chose to stay home for close to 15 years. I was surprised by the view expressed in your April 10 editorial "Playing to the women's vote" of Al Gore's plan to give stay-at-home mothers five years of credit toward Social Security benefits. It was suggested that the cost of this program to help equalize the retirement benefits of women (now far under that of the men) would be prohibitive.

I ask you, what is the cost if we do not? Although I was later a single mother who had to go to work and two of my children had to put themselves through college, they are all tax-paying assets to their communities, far from being a burden. Their value to society is immeasurable.

I have no problems with mothers who must work or choose to work. Many working mothers, with help from fathers, can do a good job of raising a stable family. But many cannot and should have the choice to stay at home.

We cannot afford to overlook anything that will help stem the tide of dysfunctional families whose children are not only ill-prepared to become good citizens, but are becoming a burden to society. Maybe Al Gore's plan is not the best plan, but surely it is a start. Right now he has my vote.

Harriet C. Maloney, Bluemont, Va.

Clinton's legacy of persistence

Daniel Schorr, generally sound, fell squarely in his March 31 opinion column "Little peacemaking legacy for Clinton." He failed to properly value the president's ever-persistent efforts for world peace.

The US today is correctly recognized as an unrelenting force for peace. In a world of ever-expanding nuclear buttons, his persistence sets a precedent for future presidents. Bill's done good, legacy or no legacy.

Bob Lindsey, Flat Rock, N.C.

Sexual harassment wrong at any rank

The US Army not only needs women, as Gerard DeGroot claims in his April 7 opinion piece "Army needs its women," but it is a more efficient, effective force because it takes advantage of the brains, energy, and talents of all the population - including both men and women. Of course we expect our soldiers to be tough, but that toughness is no excuse for sexual harassment at any rank, whether it be a private or a general. If soldiers can't control their toughness, how can they expect to be caring husbands and fathers? Men and women of our military must know when aggression is appropriate (such as in battle) and when to avoid aggression in all its forms.

It is not surprising that high-ranking officers can also be guilty of sexual harassment. After all, kings and prime ministers, as well as presidents and leaders of Congress, have been guilty of sexual harassment in one form or another.

As the strongest nation on earth, we must maintain an Army of the highest quality, and that means attracting the best talent available to its ranks.

George A. Dean, Southport, Conn.

Alligators are reptiles

In your March 15 Homefront column "On the fridge" you wrote that alligators were amphibians. Alligators are reptiles. Their back feet are webbed even though they are reptiles!

Joseph Crandell, St. Louis 2nd grade

Dear Joseph,

We regret our error and wish you success in a long editing career.

- The Editors

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