Letters to the Editor

Readers write about allowing teens to explore the Internet on their own, the differences between US and foreign automakers, and do-it-yourself luxury.

Should teenagers be allowed to navigate the Net alone?

In regard to the Dec. 5 Opinion piece, "My teen wants a computer in his room. I say no. Here's why": I found the author's desire to engage with her son's computer use a fine example of responsible parenting and something to be emulated – to a point. That point being when engagement ends and control for control's sake begins.

Is the author exclaiming "victory" at the end of the piece because her son is avoiding online multiplayer games – or because he's expressing a judgmental attitude on the issue that mirrors her beliefs? The latter undermines some of the good potential of the Internet as a medium providing access to a diversity of viewpoints, information, and thought. Or is that also a "stupid way to spend your time"?

James Frusetta
Williamburg, Va.

It is a bad idea to assume a teenager will always make good choices on the Internet. Keeping a teenager's Internet access in a family-oriented room, with the computer positioned in a way that a busy parent can easily glance over to see where their teenager's mind might be wandering to, is a key component in encouraging the best in our children rather than inadvertently empowering the worst. The computer then also becomes more of a social interaction tool, as our teens tend to share entertaining discoveries on the Internet that they think we, their parents and siblings and friends, might enjoy.

Anne Selden Annab
Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Foreign automakers vs. US industry

In regard to the Dec. 5 article, "America's 'other' auto industry": I think this article should have included a mention of some of the other incentives foreign automakers have had for building their US plants in the South, other than the region's nonunion environment.

These states lavished other incentives on these automakers, including generous tax credits and waivers, funding for necessary infrastructure construction, and even cash payments.

Also, while the article noted the more egalitarian ethos that foreign automakers bring to their US workplaces, reducing the incentive workers might otherwise have for joining a union, it did not mention another important cultural difference. Unlike their US counterparts, apparently these automakers do not, as a rule, lay off their employees during inevitable down times.

CBS Evening News aired a report recently about one such company, Toyota, which paid its employees to perform community service during their usual workhours.

Paul Theis
Milwaukee, Wis.

Luxury in homes can be a distraction, but not always

Regarding the June 11 article, "Do granite countertops mask our emptiness?": I have to agree that perhaps the rush to upgrade our houses has more to do with diverting our attention from concerns with more substance.

As an underwriting inspector, I am often perplexed by the lavish interiors of new homes of 5,000 square feet – built for a family of three and large enough to house a couple hundred people.

But there is something to be said for home improvement when you do the work yourself. It takes more time and energy, but, as in my case, building a masonry stove smack in the middle of my little house has taught me skills and given me confidence that I'd never have gotten from watching someone else do it.

Jonathan Bernstein
Perry City, N.Y.

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