Don't wait to take action on Iraq

Regarding "Inspecting Iraq" (April 19, Editorial): Your commentary assumes we have the opportunity to exercise time in Iraq. But time is something we don't have. Rather than try to coax "allies," we need to influence them by our leadership by doing what needs to be done: remove President Saddam Hussein. We don't have time to build a consensus and twiddle our thumbs while inspections fail to yield credible information and lead to doubt and further suspicion between the US and Iraq.

In an ideal situation, inspections might work, but with the obvious threat Mr. Hussein's regime poses to America, it would be detrimental to our country if we postponed his removal by waiting for UN inspectors to look in locations chosen by Hussein, which won't yield any truth. At this time, consensus exists within the US and Iraq that Hussein should be removed. This is all America needs.
Bill Crandell
Evansville, Ind.

US must curb its own drugs first

Regarding "Helping the drug farmers" (April 22, Editorial): Your analysis of the struggle to stop illegal drug-farming in Afghanistan and Colombia could easily be extended to the farming of tobacco here in the United States. America's tobacco farmers may not be breaking the law, but surely their work is unethical. And farmers aren't the only ones depending on tobacco for their livelihood. Manufacturers, marketing executives, magazine publishers, and retail store owners will all need incentives Â- legal, economic, and ethical Â- to wean themselves from this addictive source of money.

With so many profiting from tobacco, what will it take to change attitudes and behaviors? A good place to start would be to correlate states' tobacco acreage with their funding for tobacco-use prevention. Studies show that states having more tobacco acreage tend to spend less on prevention. One can also look at how states choose to use the windfall from the multistate settlement agreement, and evaluate their efforts to provide new training and alternative crops.
J. Brian Cassel
Richmond, Va.

Smart plan in city's reconstruction

Regarding "Philly's New Street Smarts" (April 17): Philadelphia's leaders and activists are diagnosing what causes slums and urban flight, and starting to follow their prognosis. The city's tax on wages is what drove people from the city, and now the city has decided to lower the wage tax.

Previously, the city's property tax Â- high on buildings, low on land Â- profited slumlords and speculators. Now the city is debating a much lower rate on improvements, so there will be no penalty for fixing up your apartment building, and a much higher rate on locations. So, if you leave your lot idle, you won't save a penny.

Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and other Pennsylvania cities have already shown this shift in property taxes can work. It should be a model for others.
Jeffery J. Smith
Portland, Ore.

Trailers are homes, too

Regarding "Troubled times for some modest American dreams" (April 22): I read your article about communities working to rid themselves of mobile homes while pretty much ignoring the fact that people live there Â- who may not have anywhere else to go!

This article portrays a society that thinks nothing of making others homeless, of judging another's housing as inferior, and of thinking it necessary to replace trailers with trendy housing.

Where has the compassion for those who are less fortunate gone? A person living in a trailer is no less important than someone living in a mansion.
Carol Spiller
Greenbrier, Tenn.

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