Regarding the June 13 article "What debt relief means for Africa": Africa doesn't need handouts. If Africa increased its share of world exports by even 1 percent, this would generate $70 billion in income for the continent, five times what it receives in aid.
Advanced countries could do a lot more good by changing trade policies that hurt underdeveloped economies than by playing sanctimonious games with so-called aid that generally benefits the giver more than the recipient.
Moreover, building a strong middle class is likely to do a lot more to end corruption and foster democracy than will most aid programs, which have a contrary effect.
Regarding the June 8 article "Offshore fish farms - a solution or a problem?": When you force fish out of their natural habitat and into cages, it changes how they're raised and what they eat. Many of them are pumped full of chemicals and antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease. This creates a potentially harmful side effect for consumers who believe that they are eating fish as a healthy source of protein. These carnivorous fish will also be given wild-caught feed, thus continuing the depletion of marine fish populations.
Offshore fish farming is the first step toward privatizing the oceans. It will not create more employment for already struggling fishing communities. In fact, such communities do not want to bump into cages in the open ocean or be forced to compete in the marketplace with farm-raised fish. Natural resources like oceans are not a commodity. Our oceans should be managed in the public trust, not parceled off for profit.
Director, food program
In the June 8 article "The secret to a thriving city is not what you may think" Joel Kotkin said, "No urban civilization has flourished long without middle class families." The key to keeping people interested in city living was said to be upward mobility.
"That aspiration is very critical to urban life; it's important to the social order that people feel they can go somewhere," Kotkin goes on to say.
Sorry, but the civilizations he goes on to reference were all extremely static.
Mesopotamia, Egypt, China - these civilizations relied for thousands of years on the idea that the people were not going anywhere. Read any history book; these people were not upwardly mobile.
It might be good to revisit some good, simple, direct urbanists-sociologists - Henri Lefebvre, Richard Sennett, Jane Jacobs - to understand that cities are complex. The secret to cities is density, variety, and above all openness.
I found the June 7 Opinion pieces regarding the Iraqi situation to be interesting. I am one of those who shared former Secretary of State Colin Powell's reservation about going into Iraq, because we would be morally bound by the idea of "you break it, you pay for it." As a result I feel the debate should not be about whether things are getting better or worse in Iraq, but whether we are fulfilling our duty to fix what we broke. If the answer to that question is negative, then the debate should be about how we fix it.
We had to destroy half of Europe to defeat the Nazi menace in World War II. What a magnificent job we did rebuilding it, even in the face of threats from communism to the East. Regardless of costs, this is the standard we should be aiming for.
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