Importance of monitoring civil liberties violations
I would like to express my gratitude for the well-written article on July 11, "Visit gone awry: Detention roils a US-German family," which tells of Majed Shehadeh's experiences and mistreatment by Department of Homeland Security officials, especially the struggles he and his wife have faced regarding reentry into the United States, despite their ties to the country.
No one can deny the manifest importance of family, home (whether that be principal home or vacation home), and heritage. After all, these are a few of the things that make life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness inherently worthwhile. I hope that troubling accounts such as these will sway those who already have reasonable doubt in the DHS and instill a little doubt in those who do not already possess it. Hopefully, the actions of the DHS will soon be fully monitored. Any civil liberties violations – particularly those of due process – impede the proper functioning of our democratic republic, so we must carefully watch those who are entrusted with power over such civil liberties.
Kudos to Latin American bank
I read with great interest the July 11 article, "Latin America's answer to the IMF," which addressed how Latin American countries are looking to form a regional bank. I believe that it is good that Latin America is taking control of its economic situation, especially when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund are not fulfilling their promised goals. Simply because Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is promoting the idea of a regional bank run by Latin American nations does not mean the concept is a bad idea.
Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their pioneering efforts in sustainable microfinance, yet the World Bank still spends less than 1 percent of its annual budget on microcredit. The World Bank's mission is to improve the living standards of the poor, but it has no measurement to determine how well they are able to reach the poorest of the poor, defined as those existing – certainly not living – on less than one dollar a day. I believe that the World Bank, the IMF, and our US Agency for International Development should invest in Banco del Sur and help empower our neighbors to help themselves.
Fairness of presidential primaries
In response to "Wastefulness of the early presidential campaign," I certainly agree that millions of dollars are wasted at this early point in order to entertain the few interested voters and give the press something to talk about. An even greater travesty is that most registered voters have absolutely no say regarding the selection of presidential candidates. In 2000, my state of Colorado held a primary after Al Gore and President Bush had both secured their parties' nominations. In 2004, we didn't even bother.
Even though several states and some regions are taking steps to move their primaries earlier in the calendar, Iowa and New Hampshire will invariably move their caucus and primary forward to ensure that those two states have undue influence over the process. This, of course, drives the start of the campaign even earlier.
The end result is that most Americans, regardless of how passionately we may support any candidate, are completely disenfranchised. However the candidates are chosen, there has to be a better way than the current process.
Children should be America's priority
We completely agree with the July 10 article, "America becomes a more 'adult-centered' nation." Not only are couples showing less interest in children but so are policymakers. The Urban Institute recently released a report detailing that from 1960 to 2006, federal spending on children's programs declined from 20.1 to 15.4 percent of domestic spending. Federal spending on children's programs is projected to decline from 2.6 to 2.1 percent of gross domestic product in the next 10 years.
Family economic well-being and educational outcomes have essentially flat-lined. Child health is in a steep decline because of the epidemic of overweight children. The increased prevalence of singleparent households continues to negatively affect children's social relationships. Children also face deep and persistent disparities in their quality of life depending on race and ethnicity. America should become more child-centered. The quality of life of American children should be a top priority for presidential candidates, policymakers, and parents.
David Gray and Justin King
New America Foundation
Open airwaves to all opinions
In response to the July 5 opinion, "Can media fairness be mandated?," I firmly believe the public airwaves should be open to all opinions as the Federal Communications Commission Fairness Doctrine designated from 1949 through 1987, when President Reagan dismantled it. The doctrine provided balance of political opinion through the public-owned airwaves.
Today there are many more ways to hear opinions, including the Internet and television. Radio reaches you when on the long drive to and from work, the mall, the club, and appointments. Busy families need balanced public airwaves to make informed decisions.
Pisgah Forest, N.C.
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