Recruit brightest students to US, but don't forget those here

Regarding your Feb. 15 editorial, "Attracting the World's Brightest": Instead of the US worrying about attracting bright people, we should be focusing on keeping the bright Americans we already have. Last year, an estimated 300,000 American citizens and residents left the country permanently, probably due in part to unfair tax burdens and increased government regulation in business matters.

Many of these people were probably in the highest tax bracket, making up for the bottom half of American taxpayers who pay less than 4 percent of the nation's total taxes. If the rich in America leave, who will cover their share of the taxes? The only way to attract bright people is to stop punishing them once they become successful!
Deborah Ward
Columbia Station, Ohio

There is no doubt that the United States' position as the destination of choice for the world's best students, scientists, and researchers has faltered in the post-9/11 period. The State Department's decision to extend the duration of certain visas is a welcome move that will send an important message across the globe.

Still, much more remains to be done if we are to reverse current trends and regain a leadership position in the global competition for the world's brightest minds.

We need a national strategy that will make recruiting them a priority for the country and will mobilize leaders from government, the private sector, and universities on behalf of that goal.
Marlene M. Johnson
Executive Director and CEO, NAFSA: Association of International Educators

Is half the country "far left"?

While writers like John Hughes continue to snicker at the "far left" ("Dean chairmanship is first volley of next election," Feb. 16), I continue to wonder just what is the far left.

If it means anti-Bush, then the election and follow-up polls show nearly half the country is far left. If it means antiwar then a significant number of libertarians and traditional conservatives would be surprised to learn they are far left. Extreme sounding categories may be useful to those with a political ax to grind, but they have no practical meaning to those of us living in the real world.
Jim McNelis
Skokie, Ill.

Farmers earn more, but must spend more

While I generally appreciate Monitor editorials, I was extremely disappointed to read the highly misleading Feb. 9 editorial "Down on the Farm? Hardly." that led your readers to believe that because farm income has risen a bit, American farmers are doing well.

But the fact is that while the total dollar income has increased, its purchasing power has declined drastically over the years (a major factor that is seldom mentioned).

For example, according to one report, farmers needed nearly $11 per bushel in 1997 to have the same purchasing power as a bushel of wheat in 1976. Instead, the price of wheat in 1997 was a measly $3.38. Today it is even lower - $3.31.

Also, because of this incredible loss in dollar purchasing power, a whopping 90 percent of Kansas farmers had to earn part of their household income away from the farm!

Everyone in the news media should encourage their readers to be grateful every day for an abundance of the cleanest, most nutritious food in the world, rather than criticize American farmers.

Surely America doesn't want to put itself in a position of looking to unreliable foreign producers to provide the food blessing we now have from US farmers.
Doug Wildin
Hutchinson, Kan.
Doug Wildin & Associates, Ranch Brokers

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