Readers write: Populist voters, school funding

Letters to the editor for the Feb. 6, 2017 weekly magazine.

Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters
Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gestures during a ceremony at the Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy, on Dec. 12, 2016.

Populist voters

Regarding the Dec. 19 Focus article, “The far reach of the ‘Trump effect’ ”: This article includes points that deserve greater attention. First, those who vote for populist candidates deserve a respectful dialogue. Explaining how much trade lowers living costs would be more helpful than dismissing voters as “deplorables.” 

Next, let’s address legitimate concerns. Helping those left behind by globalization might spread the benefits more evenly. Enforcing and reforming immigration laws could prevent resentment from causing human tragedies and policies that crimp longer-term economic development. 

Finally, giving voters better alternatives may lead to different results. 

The overwhelmingly rejected Italian constitutional “reform” would have eviscerated the upper house and given 54 percent of seats in the lower house to whichever party secured a plurality, thus giving commanding power to the prime minister. Italians may not want to open the way for another Mussolini!

Many US voters viewed the Democratic presidential candidate as deeply flawed; a different candidate might have elicited a different outcome. A brighter future requires respectful discussion, thoughtful policies, and better electoral alternatives.

Pete Seeley

Chincoteague, Va.

School funding

Thank you for the Dec. 19 Briefing, “A primer on ‘school choice.’ ” It is very true that some oppose vouchers because the public schools already need more funding than they can get, with the only question being whether that money should come from state and local sources or the federal government. But there are more concerns about vouchers for private schools. 

Having seen how federal funding, namely federal grants and loans to higher education, works, I can assure you that the day will come when the source of funding, however small a portion it is, will want to control the operation. If I had any authority in a private school, I would run and hide from federal vouchers. If that money must be spent, spend it on helping public schools meet all the challenges they deal with every day. 

Don’t forget the golden rule: Whoever has the gold makes the rules.

Elizabeth Stevens

Manhattan, Kan.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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