As a representative of a chaplain-support group in northern California, I welcome any insights offered to leavening the human condition in the prisons in our world. Their worth is certainly attested to by this writer.
I found this piece to be very inspiring. The author's "desire to build on the better part" of himself was, undoubtedly, the key to his improved situation. We all could learn from that motive!
Let's hope that corrections officials at all levels recognize the value of self-help opportunities, and the untapped intelligence and talents of inmates.
The California penal system's honors program, so glowingly described by this author, needs to be evaluated by more clear-eyed people in the corrections system, and certainly not by one inmate.
My experience as a teacher in a prison system tells me that the author is right in that many inmates would be good if they knew how. But my experience also tells me that the prison culture is often driven by the brutes among the inmates.
Trust is hard in such situations.
US embassy should become university
In regard to the Nov. 4 Opinion piece, "A bold step for US goodwill in Iraq": I was intrigued by author Adil E. Shamoo's suggestion that the huge new US embassy there be converted to a university. This seems to be a good way of enhancing the US image in Iraq and around the world.
Of course, the Iraqi government would have to approve, and a suitable alternative embassy located. The latter step might be difficult, but in light of the billions of US dollars being spent in Iraq, it should not be impossible.
Conversion of the controversial new facility to a university appears to be right in line with President-elect Obama's goals of "change" and improving the American image abroad.
James D. Braman
Tie compensation to success
Regarding the Oct. 27 article, "Scope of $700 billion bailout bill continues to widen": As the government rushed ahead in its plans to shovel up to $700 billion into financial markets, many of us said slow down, make sure the money will do what it was intended to do.
We are now seeing bailout funds being directed into mergers and acquisitions, instead of stimulating lending.
A few simple rules could tie executive compensation to the success of their companies and ensure that bailouts are actually used to help companies get back on their feet. Namely, for the duration of the loan: 1) freeze all existing deferred compensation, including stock options, golden parachutes, etc., 2) limit executive compensation, and 3) disallow any deferred compensation to be granted.
To return to the gravy train under these rules, the executives have to both restore their companies to health and pay off the loan. The way the system is currently structured, executives need only to prop up the perceived value of their organizations. There is not a lot of incentive to pay off taxpayer loans or use them wisely.
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