When seeking an African shoe market, look elsewhere

Regarding Niall Fitzgerald's May 2 Opinion piece, "Business has responsibility and opportunity in Africa": There is no practical way to agree that business has a "responsibility" and even less an "opportunity" in Africa.

I just spent 30 years as an entrepreneur in Brazil, and my brother-in-law invested 15 years in Angola. Under the current cultural traits of both South America and Africa, it is almost impossible to identify true "opportunities" for any business endeavor. As far as Fitzgerald's use of the word "responsibility," that sounds condescending, and therefore insulting to the very people Mr. Fitzgerald claims to "help."

I heard that a few years ago two Brazilian shoemakers, seeking to expand their export markets, traveled to Africa to research new potential markets. They found the great majority of the population barefoot. The first one, all excited, said: "This must be the best market in the world, everybody needs shoes here!" The second, skeptical, said: "This is probably the worst market in the world, they don't have money to buy shoes here."

Mr. Fitzgerald thinks like the first; I tend to think like the second.
Egon Martinovsky
West Palm Beach, Fla.

Guns for self-defense: additional harm

Responding to the May 10 article "Florida boosts gun rights, igniting a debate": I strongly disagree with the new Florida law that allows individuals to shoot those they think may be trying to harm them when they are in a public place. This will no doubt inspire more people to go out and equip themselves for "protection."

Putting more guns in households will only increase the risk of accidental injuries. Allowing people to use guns in public places only adds to our nation's increasingly casual attitude toward gun violence.

It seems counterintuitive to allow someone to, in a weakened state of mind, pull a trigger at whomever has startled them. It is less safe, not more, to let someone fire a gun in a public place when they are afraid that their life is in danger. Public safety should be the responsibility of the police.
Nicole Wright
San Jose, Calif.

Read a book, learn to spell

Regarding your May 17 article "Spelling makes a comeback": There has been a return to explicit spelling instruction because we cannot assume children will "pick up [spelling] as they go along."

We have known for a long time, however, that spelling instruction is not effective. There is evidence that children do, in fact, "pick up" spelling, not by just "going along," but by reading. In fact, the only way we can acquire the complex rules of spelling is by reading.

Good readers are nearly always good spellers, but may not be perfect spellers. They usually know when they are about to make a spelling mistake, however, and can usually recognize the correct spelling of a word when presented with alternatives by a spell-checker. This understanding of correct spelling comes from extensive reading.
Stephen Krashen
Los Angeles

Terrorist with wide-angle lens? Not likely

Regarding your May 23 article "Watch where you point that camera": Harassing cameramen isn't likely to turn up any terrorists, because most terrorists are smart enough to carry out their work surreptitiously. The simple fact is that there are few terrorists in the United States, and far fewer than the government would like us to believe.

Rather than hamper individual freedom, we should attempt to reform US law enforcement and increase global awareness.
Steven Spurgeon
Wiesbaden, Germany

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