Business needs ethical boundaries

Your Nov. 14 editorial "An accounting for the SEC" states that "much of the correction needed in corporations, especially in accounting, has already been made by the pressure of investors and the integrity of company officials." I would agree that the statement is true in the short term. Unfortunately, neither is dependable out of the glare of publicity.

The pressure of investors lifts over time as memories fade and other hot issues appear. Business is for profit maximization only, and corporate capitalism is amoral (when only the strong survive, morality is considered a weakness). The accounting and investment bank lobbies clamor to reduce regulatory measures that might restrict behavior to the straight and narrow, because the measures would provide for stricter accounting and greater safety for investors, and therefore hinder profit acquisition for the corporations and the resulting bonuses for the principals.

We want our corporations to be aggressive, on the leading edge, experimenting boldly. Indeed, they are, not only with products and technology, but with business practice that pushes against and finds holes in rules and regulations.

Corporate behavior is constrained in the long term only by legal sanctions, and only when the legal measures are refined from time to time to close loopholes. If the current administration doesn't actively push for legal constraints to protect the investing public, then the public must fear that their investment nest eggs in the market henhouse are guarded by the unknowing, the unseeing, or the uncaring. Regardless, it would smell of a fox.
Melvin A. Ivey
Klamath Falls, Ore.

Special ed vouchers yield benefits

In response to your Nov. 18 editorial "Vouchers for special ed": As a special education teacher for 28 years, I concur. A "thoughtful national voluntary experiment" that provides parents of children with disabilities the option to leave a local program, if dissatisfied, has the potential to yield many benefits.

There is a range of capabilities among special educators. There is no way to capitalize on the widely dispersed talents and knowledge throughout the field. There is no way to direct more resources toward stellar performers, nor divert them from inadequate performers.

Parents are not experts here, and they do not need to be. They are experts on the well-being of their children, and they know when their children are happy and learning - and when they are not. If we tap the expertise of both parents and teachers, then parents must direct resources to the schools and teachers whom they feel will best meet their children's needs.
Tom Shuford
Locust Valley, N.Y.

Negotiation speaks louder than war

Regarding John Hughes's Nov. 13 Opinion column "Counting Afghanistan's blessings of liberation": No one misses the oppressive Taliban, but do we remember our original intent for military action? The search for Osama bin Laden turned into a broader aim of dismantling Al Qaeda when we could not find him. If we've decided to invade every country with stifling government control over their people, we have quite a list ahead of us.

Terrorists will continue to regroup against us until we seek peace through balanced negotiation in world organizations and find the root of discontent. Now we are heading to war against Saddam Hussein. Or is it for regime change? Or noncompliance with UN resolutions? The US continues to use double standards when throwing its weight around.
Ann Hymes
St. Michaels, Md.

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