Historical perspective on US income disparity
Regarding James Brock's April 7 Opinion piece, "The real issue behind saving Bear Stearns: size": The severe downturn in the US economy is alarming to most Americans. We watch with distress the corporate giantism, and the bailouts by the government of the mega-merged corporations.
"As long as you have a boundless extent of fertile and unoccupied land, your labouring population will be far more at ease than the labouring population of the Old World. ... But the time will come when New England will be as thickly peopled as old England. Wages will be as low, and will fluctuate as much with you as with us. ... Distress everywhere makes the labourer mutinous and discontented, and inclines him to listen with eagerness to agitators who tell him that it is a monstrous iniquity that one man should have a million while another cannot get a full meal. It is quite plain that your government will never be able to restrain a distressed and discontented majority."
Macaulay's prophesies did not prove to be true and hopefully will remain false in the future. We do not need revolts or mutinies, but we should vote out the corrupt politicians who have brought this devastating havoc on our economy.
Ifat A. Shah
Death penalty is China's only deterrent
Regarding the April 10 article, "Amid rights protests, a look at China's record": I live in China (I am currently home in Texas for a few months) and one of my Chinese friends has given me a perspective I never considered as an American. He pointed out to me that the Chinese must have a death penalty because to the Chinese the threat of jail is really not a threat at all. He says, and I've come to agree with him on this, that Americans' highest value is their freedom, and so they fear jail because it takes away their freedom.
The Chinese haven't had any level of freedom until the past 15 years, and even now it is largely limited. My friend says that threatening jail is threatening freedom, something the Chinese already do not really have, so without the death penalty everyone would commit crimes. There would be basically no repercussions.
Games provide leverage against China
In response to the March 31 article, "For China, Games are time to display – and to conceal": China is so eager to reassert its place in the world. That sense of nationalism gives people who are appalled at China's human rights record one tiny window of opportunity to make a stand.
Lyme Regis, England
Draft could resolve Iraq war problems
In response to the April 11 article, "Stresses still high on US military": I was a sergeant in the US Army in the 1960s (a volunteer, not drafted). The draft provided the Army with a lot of high quality people until they lowered their standards during the Vietnam War – just as they've been doing now.
The current Iraq problem could be solved by reinstituting the military draft, which would provide enough troops without having to send them back again and again. One year in combat is more than enough unless we're fighting here at home. And it would probably prevent further senseless wars from being started by people who found ways to avoid such conflict when they were young.
Rice Lake, Wis.
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