Letters to the Editor - Weekly Issue of March 22, 2010

Readers write in about labor, tunnels in Gaza, funding, and loud America.

When labor is not needed

David R. Francis's column, "Workers' share of America's pie is shrinking" doesn't touch on the possibility that human labor is becoming less needed.

What work are humans going to perform when all labor can be done by machines and all goods and practically all services can be supplied without human effort?

It appears that we are fast approaching the point where this dilemma will have to be addressed.

I am not suggesting we all become Luddites, but rather we must begin to ask, "How do we get purchasing power into the hands of citizens all while there are plenty of things to buy?"

As it is now, we are simply laying off workers no longer needed.

Richard Sproul Yakima,

Wash. Tunnel vision

In response to "Close Gaza tunnels? Some Palestinians say yes" : Smuggling tunnels are not a "lifeline."

The tunnels are notorious for carting in weapons that are used to terrorize thousands of Israelis.

Jackie Schechter

Stamford, Conn.

A question of funding

The opinion essay "US workers need a better safety net for layoffs," on revamping the unemployment insurance system in the US by replacing it with Unemployment Insurance Savings Accounts (UISA) harks back to the same tired argument about fixing our healthcare system with HSAs, health savings accounts.

The average middle-class person in this country can not afford to adequately fund an HSA and would not be able to fund a UISA at anywhere near the level that would sustain them like the current system does during an extended economic downturn. Perhaps it's time the authors spent some time on extended UI benefits to appreciate their value.

John Webb Lawrenceburg, Ky

Media's role in an angry US?

Your cover story on "America the boisterous" notes the role of "round-the-clock media."

We need only look at our history to find out how we ended up with so many forked tongues.

A good place to start would be the 1970s Daniel Yankelovich poll that found trust in media had dropped. "A two-third majority felt that what they think 'really doesn't count,' " Yankelovich concluded. Talk radio simply noted the need and filled it. A whole segment of society, mainly what came to be called "the angry, white male," was disenfranchised from print.

There is a lot of talk now about returning radio to the days of the Fairness Doctrine. No one seems to remember the fact that there would be no talk radio – or Rachel Maddow, Bill O'Reilly, etc. – if the doctrine had been practiced by newspapers.

James O. Clifford

Redwood City, Calif.

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