On birth control: Does UN help or harm women?

Your June 6 editorial "Women's progress" declares that religious tradition "will have to give way" to women's rights as understood by the United Nation's World Conference on Women in Beijing.

Given that much of humanity belongs to one of two religious groups most skeptical of the UN's social-engineering competence (Roman Catholicism and Islam), this process may not be as inevitable as the Monitor would have it. For those who think that life is about more than exercising the radical autonomy favored by Western elites, "progress" is the last term one would use to describe the efforts of the UN on behalf of women. A more insightful article would question the dubious assertion that women are actually helped by the UN's efforts to separate them from their religions and cultures in favor of population-control ideology.

David Glenn St. Charles, Ill.

Microsoft case is mere politics

Contrary to your June 9 editorial "The final Gates keeper," the government has done nothing to prove Microsoft guilty on any of the following four basic points of this bogus antitrust case: Microsoft can raise prices without consequences, Internet Explorer is not an integrated value-ad product, exclusionary practices crippled Netscape, and consumers have been hurt by it all.

It's time we admitted this is simply a sad case of disgruntled competitor-enticing politicians to force what it could not accomplish in the marketplace. Funny that antitrust law is supposed to protect consumers, while in this case the real damage is coming as a result of this mindless suit with its obvious political legacy-building design.

Scott Laningham Austin, Texas

Park fees not always for preservation

Regarding your June 9 article "Park user fees freeze out lower-income Americans": The issue of user fees is more than just the maintenance of basic facilities.

Often, they are used to make improvements that many users do not desire. Outdoors magazines such as Canoe and Kayak, among others, point out that some of the money raised goes to facilitating commercial developments and concessionaire efforts.

This goes against what the parks are for - preservation and public access. Keep the fast food out of the parks, and let those of us who like to bike and kayak in the wild keep it as wild as possible.

Lastly, if Congress would appropriate enough funds for the parks to function and be maintained, this would not be an issue. However, with the

neoliberal push to privatize government services, I fear the idea of public anything will not survive long into the 21st century, including our "public" lands.

Darren Purcell Tallahassee, Fla.

Require states to spend on day care

Your June 9 editorial "Gore's take on child care," supporting Al Gore's proposal for a child-care tax credit for parents making $25,000 or less, certainly covers all the major points. You couldn't be more accurate in pinpointing the paradox around a system where parents are paying high fees, but skilled child-care givers are terribly low paid and in short supply.

It's not true, however, that child care is an issue that the federal government can affect "only around the edges," as you allege. The block-grant funds for child-care development, along with Head Start funding, come from the federal government with guidelines.

Congress could require that states spend a higher percentage of funds for quality purposes, and provide guidelines so that a percentage of funds is used to improve working conditions and remuneration.

Phyllis Belk Philadelphia

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