Blue laws were discontinued because society's habits changed

Regarding the Sept. 11 article, "Maybe 'blue laws' weren't so bad": I thought it strange that there was a direct comparison between the current era of legal Sunday retail in the United States and the era in which blue laws were followed. Much has changed since many stores and businesses started staying open on Sundays, and all those changes cannot be attributed to increased shopping and commercial recreation on Sunday.

I think the blue laws were discontinued because people were changing, and not the other way around. In western Europe, church attendance is much lower than in the United States, and yet store hours are quite limited on Sundays. And the streets of their cities seem at least as safe as those in America, despite their low church attendance. I don't find the conclusions of the study the article cited to be convincing.
Susan A. Fisher
Ann Arbor, Mich.

All federal programs contain moral hazard

I read with interest Peter Boettke's Sept. 8 Opinion piece, "The Gulf Coast's other disaster: moral hazard." I could not agree more that the government's Katrina rebuilding program created poor incentives for the people it was meant to serve. I must say, however, that each and every program of our government contains equal or even greater moral hazards. It is something that we must begin to talk about more.

For example, so-called "pro-family" programs have always run on the premise that those who choose to go without children should pay to help others raise, feed, and educate their families. This redistribution of money has some very good reasons for being instituted, but it also has a strong influence on individual reproductive decisions.

In a world that is becoming increasingly overpopulated, as measured by our consumption and our polluting lifestyle, it is clear to me that there are overwhelming negative consequences to these pro-family programs. Perhaps we need to imagine a world where those who choose to have children will pay more fully for their own decision to do so. Perhaps then the children who are brought into this world will be taught to think daily about keeping their footprint on the planet as small as possible.

I am not sure how we are to rethink it all, but as our oil supply has hit the downhill slope, and as our world becomes more polluted and "used up," it is clear that we must rethink how many persons of which lifestyles can be supported on our planet.
Bruce W. Ritchie
Criders, Va.

Address root causes of extremism

As we commemorated the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Marc Gopin's Sept. 7 Opinion piece, "Countering religious extremism with religious compassion," was a timely reminder that extremist groups often come into existence to fulfill needs for justice, security, and participation in processes that shape their members' lives. These needs tap into multilevel social and psychoemotional domains within which the dominant, privileged in-group has dropped the ball.

Five years beyond 9/11, rather than encourage Israel to totally undermine the viability of the fragile Lebanese state in pursuit of the destruction of Hizbullah (an organization that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President Bush declared as the "root cause" of the Israeli-Hizbullah conflict), the US should have dealt (and should now deal) with the real, deep-rooted causes to which Hizbullah continues to respond in southern Lebanon.
Dennis J.D. Sandole
Burke, Va.

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