Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the lessons that can be learned from Kosovo, the systemic debt problem in US higher education, and another way President Obama may unite rivals.

Lessons of Kosovo should be taught the world over

Regarding the Jan. 21 Opinion piece, "Kosovo's quiet victory over violent ethnic nationalism": What a wonderful piece. This article reminds us of a courageous and determined people who have been able to wage peace in a part of the world marked by years of fighting and dissension.

Author Elizabeth Pond bemoans the fact that this success story is not more widely known. She needs to find a movie production company that can make a documentary worthy of the original story to spread the word that peace is possible even in the most bellicose parts of the world.

After all, Al Gore was able to change prevailing opinion about climate change with his popular movie, "An Inconvenient Truth." And "The Singing Revolution," a film that tells the story of the successful, peaceful independence movement in Estonia, is being widely shown in America now.

Ms. Pond is right; the story of peace in Kosovo needs to be spread throughout the world. Who knows what effect it may have among warring people in the Middle East, in various countries of Africa and Asia, and even here in America, when we consider the consequences our foreign policies may have?

Donna Zerger
McPherson, Kan.

US college debt problem is systemic

Regarding the Jan. 21 article, "Colleges scramble to help cash-strapped students": The methods being used to prop up the student loan industry mirror many of the recent government bailouts.

These bailouts have followed an economic model that emphasizes pumping government tax dollars into an industry in an effort to revitalize stagnant markets. Government subsidies may provide an illusion of fiscal health and political cover for politicians, but they do little to solve the systemic problems that exist in America's higher education system.

One of the primary causes of the rapid increase in the cost of higher education is the growing addiction to debt spending in colleges nationwide. Increasing the flow of student loans without first addressing the spending problem will only make the problem worse, and another bailout will be just around the corner.

The government's more active role in student lending agreements places a great deal of new financial risk on the federal coffers, allocating billions of taxpayer dollars to prop up a market that is currently highly unstable. Certain interest groups have tried to portray these bailouts as a necessary step to preserve higher education, but they are in fact more harmful than helpful, distorting the private market and inflating the already high cost of higher education.

Matthew Glans

History shows how to unite rivals

Regarding the Jan. 21 article, "Who's cookin' in the White House?": Our early presidents frequently used dinners as a means of convivial discourse.

Just one suggestive example: After the tempestuous election of 1824, President Monroe entertained at his last levee, with invited guests President-elect John Quincy Adams and Vice President-elect John Calhoun, as well as Henry Clay (who became Adams's secretary of State), the Marquis de Lafayette (who was in the US for an extended tour), and Gen. Andrew Jackson and his wife, Rachel.

This is yet another way President Obama can use images from history to bring together teams of rivals.

Joland Mohr
Cottonwood, Minn.

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