Wanted: more Rosa Parks to stand up to today's injustices

Todd L. Pittinsky's excellent Oct. 31 Opinion piece, "Quiet efforts for the common good," about Rosa Parks echoes thoughts that I have had recently about the need for leadership in America.

Where are the strong leaders who can put aside politics and do what needs doing in our dangerous world?

In Rosa Parks's era, someone needed to stand up against the ignorance of racial injustice. Big, strong men were afraid, and unwilling, to do it. Rosa may have been afraid, but she stood with a courage that men twice her size could not muster - and she changed the world because of it.

Today, there are many similar issues of ignorance and danger that someone needs to stand against.

Where are the Rosas who will gird up their courage and just do what is right, regardless of political correctness?

Mr. Pittinsky is right to suggest that America is in need of leaders like Rosa Parks - in 2005 as much as in 1955. Sadly, we seem to be in short supply of such courageous individuals today.
Tim Hadley
Lubbock, Texas

Retirement is often forced, not chosen

Michael G. Zey's Nov. 2 Opinion piece, "Entice 'boomer workers' to stay on the job," has things backwards. The problem is not that people rush to retire because they can; rather, they are being pressured to leave via buyouts and other early retirement instruments.

The other part of the story is that after age 55, if you are an early retiree or otherwise edged out of work by downsizing programs, finding a job is really tough.

Age discrimination lives, and many a résumé sent out gets the "impressive-résumé-but-you're-over-qualified" treatment (i.e. you are too old).

It is a shame to let all the experience, skills, and work ethic of the "boomer workers" evaporate. The issue is not how companies can entice older workers to stay, but rather, whether companies have a desire to retain or hire older workers.
Bob Lovell
Cape May Court House, N.J.

Always temper optimism with realism

Regarding Michael Barone's Oct. 4 Opinion piece, "The 'good news' we are missing": While Mr. Barone sees the glass more than half full, the reality for many people here and abroad is that it is nearly empty. He would do well to ask why, as he says, "Polls show that most Americans think the economy is in dreadful shape, even though almost all the numbers are good .... " The "good" numbers, describing corporate profits, don't help the average citizen. And the numbers of unemployed no longer receiving benefits or at jobs paying far less than previous ones - none of which are officially counted - are disturbingly high.

I marvel at Barone's aplomb as he merely dismisses poverty in Africa, and at how he describes as an advance in freedom and democracy the chaos now verging on civil war in Iraq. While it's true that "Muslims and Arabs...want liberty and self-rule," the United States ignores this in its fervor to impose its own values and style of governance. Finally, Barone seems almost joyous over increased competition with China and India, even as economists discuss the threat to limited global oil supplies, which these nations are increasingly demanding as they move closer to economic parity with the U.S.

The actual good news is that many people whose optimism is tempered with realism are helping to improve our world.
Diana Morley
Talent, Ore.

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