Readers debate whether and how much Americans should sacrifice for the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iraq war: Should Americans sacrifice more, and how?

In response to the article on March 26 about Americans contributing to the Iraq war: This lack of sacrifice represents a failure on the part of the administration, Congress, and the American people who have refused to demand that our government ask more of us. Aside from the tardily disputed decision to invade Iraq, there are many reasons to support a call for national service and greater fiscal sacrifice by today's – not tomorrow's – taxpayers.

In addition to the need for a larger active-duty military, there are many other manpower needs that should be addressed by mandatory national service.

National Guard: The failures of response to hurricane Katrina show that the states need augmented first-responder teams.

Border patrol: A major reason given for our leaky borders is a shortage of manpower.

Transportation Security Administration: We still hear about manpower shortages not only for airport security, but also for other means of public transportation.

National Park Service: This service has many unfilled positions. Facilities constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) are in disrepair. A new CCC could be well utilized.

In addition to new areas for service, programs such as the Peace Corps and VISTA could also use more people.

When the needs are so great, it is difficult to understand or excuse inaction.
George Mitchell
Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.

I found the March 26 article about Americans not sharing in the Iraq war's sacrifices misleading and superficial. America's involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is requiring a small set of individuals to sacrifice greatly on a personal level, and their sacrifices should be recognized and shared more broadly.

However, on economic, social, and political levels, the American people have sacrificed far more than this article acknowledges. These wars have squandered resources that could have been used for educational, social, and environmental programs, and this injures America and all Americans.

Now $503 billion is no longer available to help fund educational programs (such as reducing class sizes), transportation infrastructure improvements (such as road repair and investments in mass transit), or programs to care for Americans' health and protect the environment (through greater funding of the Environmental Protection Agency). The costs of the wars certainly constitute a sacrifice made by all Americans. And the effects will linger far after America ends its involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jeff B. Kray
Tacoma, Wash.

The joy of not driving a car

Regarding the March 23 article, "In Marin County, walkers, bikers, and hikers rule the road": Last summer, I learned the concept of "the tyranny of the automobile." When I ride my bicycle, I experience tremendous joy, get exercise, and enjoy the ease of getting from point A to point B within the small city of Halifax. I long for thousands more to join me in this joy and ease.

Recently, I saw a travel show on TV featuring Sark Island (in the British Channel Islands), where there are no cars. I long for such a place. Let's all work toward a North America where cars no longer rule, where cars no longer call the shots, and where drivers are fewer than walkers, bicyclists, and hikers.
Janet Shotwell
Halifax, Nova Scotia

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