The risk of accepting checks for any financial institution
I am a supervisor at a credit union and after reading your Aug. 6 article, "Unwary consumers duped by counterfeit check scams," I am glad to know that the message of check scams and fraud is getting to the public. Every day I receive countless bad checks and encounter several victims and predators. I have seen everything from US Treasury checks being counterfeited to forged checks.
Every time another member comes in and asks "Is this good?," I ask, "How did you get it and does it make sense to do what you are being asked to do?" I also emphasize that if they deposit bad checks and use the money, they are held responsible. What many do not realize is that accepting checks is a risk for any financial institution. Every year millions of dollars are lost to unrecovered funds that must be charged off. This raises insurance costs that eventually filter down in the form of fees. Though police try to go after the culprits, many times they are too wrapped up in bigger crimes to make arrests for white-collar fraud.
Stopping border drug operations
In response to the Aug. 8 article, "Mexico seeks antidrug aid from the US," the US already gives Mexico money toward fighting drug cartels, but that has not ended the billion-dollar business of drug smuggling. Year after year, these drug cartels drive across the border without fear of getting caught.
Beefing up the border patrol has had little or no effect in stopping them. Surely the US government is capable of catching these convoys, but just being capable without the will to act will not solve anything.
After reading the Aug. 8 article about drugs in Mexico, I believe that if the US seriously wanted to have an immediate impact on Mexico's control of drug violence, it would legalize (though heavily regulate) all drugs immediately. As a former narcotics prosecutor in New York City, this is the only rational way to reduce drug violence. Why would anyone think that more of the same will work?
More aid to Mexico will only allow corrupt officials to sell protection to the highest bidder and use the American military to eliminate the competition. The drug flow will continue more or less unabated as long as US drug demand is there.
Acceptable terms for older persons
The Aug. 8 article, "The names we use for people over 50," was very well done. I picked up the use of the term "mais velho" (elder) in Angola as a respectable way to refer to persons over 50. It is on target in English as well. "Elders" has been used for centuries to denote those experienced, honored voices to whom the youth are supposed to be listening. At 61, I do not object to "senior" either.
There are many among my ranks, however, who are unable to come to grips with aging. No term that refers to age, however subtly, would be acceptable for them.
Fixing America's infrastructure
In regard to the Aug. 8 article, "Minneapolis shows why it's rated No. 1 in volunteerism": US infrastructure has long been in desperate need of repair, but Sept. 11 came along, and the US never looked back in spending more to fix it. The US must now bite the bullet and fix all the mistakes before more disasters occur.
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