Carriers prevail on the ocean blue

Your June 28 article "The giants of the Navy face growing risks" raises the question about whether aircraft carriers are increasingly vulnerable to attack, a contention that is simply incorrect. Highly mobile, well-defended naval forces are hard to find, harder to hit, and nearly impossible to kill.

While conducting routine flight operations at a speed of 30 knots, an aircraft carrier can be anywhere within an area as large as 700 square miles within 30 minutes. The modern aircraft carrier is a highly armored target that is extremely difficult to disable. It is also a source of high-volume, sustained firepower. The carrier and its embarked air wing represent the capacity to strike more than 600 distinct targets every flying day - 1,000 later this decade, with the introduction of the F/A-18E/F strike fighter.

Any suggestion that its time is past is out of step with reality.

Vice Admiral John B. Nathman San Diego Commander, Naval Air Force US Pacific Fleet

Clinical recession

Your July 9 article on the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Business Cycle Dating Committee throws a revealing spotlight on one of the most embarrassing aspects of the "dismal" state of current economic "science."

If we were to have 10 years of recent low- growth rates, without any so called "recession" (actually, the NBER itself uses the more precise term, "contraction" for negative-growth rates), unemployment would reach deep-depression rates. This is because our labor force, productivity, and "potential" (full-employment) output are continually growing.

The basic cause of this confusion is that the NBER developed its "business cycle" theories in the 1920s, when economic statistics were too crude to provide a reliable long-run growth-trend standard of reference, so it used an absolute (zero growth rate) standard. As a result, the Dating Committee is confused not only about the beginning of recessions, but also about a growth-trend standard.

It's time for the NBER to modernize its "business cycle" framework and end the terminological confusion, so we can focus more effectively on appropriate policy.

John Atlee Brattleboro, Vt. President, Institute for Economic Analysis

Massive immigration costs jobs

According to your July 3 editorial "Toward managed migration," our economy can continue to absorb millions of low wage foreign workers. This attitude is contributing to the poverty of our own working class, including that of my own son. When his boss had the option of hiring a low-wage foreign national, he did so, and my son lost his job.The immigrantsdo not expect paid vacations, health insurance, andovertime wages.It is unconscionable that this is happening.

Carol Joyal Los Gatos, Calif.

A protest from myself

In response to the July 9 opinion piece about proper use of the pronoun "myself" ("Me, myself, and I ... won't give up!"), good writers shape the language in ways that the hoi polloi like myself do not. But no one has ever had an iota of clout against the tide of language change that makes a living language alive by griping about how ordinary people happen to speak. What was the name of that English king who stood on the beach ordering the tide to turn around?

Isa Kocher Tallahassee, Fla.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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