Letters to the Editor

Readers write about how Obama should approach global challenges, encouraging Americans to save as a means of creating wealth, and why math should be taught the old-fashioned way in American schools.

Obama's global challenges call for a global approach

Regarding the Dec. 22 editorial, "Obama as geo-politican": The title is misleading. I gather from the examples cited that the Monitor means to articulate that the challenges facing President-elect Barack Obama are global in nature. The editorial quite rightly states that only multilateral initiatives will solve global problems, such as climate change and terrorism. But calling the politics in the age of globalization and Mr. Obama's role at the helm "geo-politics" misses the mark.

Geopolitics, a term coined by Swedish political scientist Rudolf Kjellan in the early 1900s, examines politics through the lens of a map. It is rooted in geography. Halford Mackinder, the late British geographer, expanded upon this notion, arguing that the Eurasian heartland is the "pivot" of the world. Mackinder believed that control of Eurasia would lead to global power. Unfortunately so did Hitler.

This is a marriage of geography and politics – a tool for evaluating the actions of states, vying for power and presence on the map. This editorial speaks to something that is beyond states – it notes that in today's globalized world, as borders melt, geography is breaking down.

The world can be understood not through a regional lens, but a global one. So perhaps for Obama to truly fulfill the mission the author present him with, he must become a "globo-politician." Perhaps by coining a new term, we can articulate a new vision, one that better articulates the challenges in our globalized time and points to the solutions.

Lauren Brodsky
Delmar, N.Y.

Encourage savings to increase wealth

In regard to the Dec. 18 editorial, "A credit card where it's due": The Monitor's View offers some good suggestions for dealing with the current credit crisis, but it addresses symptoms, not underlying problems.

First and foremost, Americans must retake control of their government, and not stand by while such things as the wildly unpopular $700 billion handout to the very financial industry that had a majority stake in creating the crisis are rushed through by our supposed representatives.

As to fixing the credit mess, rather than simply trying to educate people to save, we can effect this through policy, by lowering or eliminating the income tax and creating a national sales tax. Through careful legislation, this tax structure could encourage savings and offer better control over concentration of wealth into too few hands, which was a significant factor in this and previous economic downturns. Savings is the best means to create investment, and investment, not speculation, is the best way to create wealth. And it is wealth that improves everyone's life and provides more stability.

Michael Wolf
Colfax, Wash.

Math should be taught in better ways

Regarding the Dec. 10 article, "US students improve in math": After 47 years of teaching at the elementary, high school, and college levels, I could not believe the method that was being demonstrated for simple multiplication in the picture accompanying this article.

Students in other countries come to the university handling arithmetic in the same way that I was taught 75 years ago, and those students do very well with it and their advanced math.

After viewing this picture, I understand why our students are doing so poorly in math.

William F. Girouard
South Pasadena, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters andopinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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