- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 20, 2000

Reader recalls the many uses of 'Peanuts'

When I was stationed with the Army in Germany in the early '70s, we had a Catholic chaplain who used the "Peanuts" comic strip as the takeoff point for his homily each week. Ours was a congregation of military personnel and family members, and Father Marc always knew how to use the simple messages of "Peanuts" as modern parables in much the same way the lessons of the Gospel were derived from the everyday activities of simple farmers, herdsmen and fishermen.

In any newspaper, the comics page has become the antidote for the increasingly grim stories we read in the other sections. Charles Schulz and his "Peanuts" gang were shining beacons of childhood innocence and decency in a world where both are under constant assault. In his way, Mr. Schulz did more good and spread more happiness and good will than most. He certainly has more claim to being one of the great people of the 20th century at least its last half than many or most of the pompous and self-serving individuals who have been mentioned for that honor.

Mr. Schulz's characters brightened many a day and probably helped along many romances via "Peanuts" greeting cards and gifts. The "Peanuts" gang was a big part of my life, and Mr. Schulz will be missed.

MARK JECKER

Phoenix

Air bags are just another government intrusion

Good for Robert Proctor, who had an injury-free auto accident because had buckled his seat belt (" 'Untrue, reckless and irresponsible' editorial about seat belts," Letters, Feb. 11).

However, I'm curious about one thing. Why didn't his government-mandated air bag go off in his face? Nothing during his accident would have cut off his ability to react with such coolheadedness as effectively as the air bag.

Yet we have to live with it and pay for it as well. No government legislation on earth, including the mandated use of seat belts and air bags, will change the fact we all will die one day. The sad question is whether we will pretend government will prevent the inevitable or whether we will live in freedom a freedom we unfortunately are letting erode.

Think about it as you flush your 1.6-gallon toilet. I wonder whose safety that legislation was meant to protect.

PATRICIA W. SNYDER

Bowie

Another twist on wage control

Phyllis Schlafly's Feb. 12 commentary, "Wage control with a twist," was an interesting read. It was clearly presented and well argued and concluded with a statement I can support: "The proper role of government is to provide equal opportunity." However, there was a serious omission in Mrs. Schlafly's text: the plight of single women with children.

The condition of single women with children is a concern that needs to be addressed by our economy with a resolve for action. If it is true that "married men with children earn the most, while married women with children earn the least," and Mrs. Schlafly's comments in that regard seem reasonable, then we must assume that unmarried women with children, whether divorced, separated, widowed or otherwise, also earn less than married men with children. Some single women in this situation will testify that there is a clear wage disparity between them and married men with children, all things being equal.

Setting aside feminist demands for preferential wage controls, it would seem that the condition of many single mothers in our economy, and the wages they earn, should be on a par with those of married men in similar circumstances. I am no expert in this area, so I would be interested in hearing what Mrs. Schlafly would have to say on that twist.

GENE BUIE

Vienna

National security problems much worse than cited

Robert Charles exposed only the tip of the iceberg regarding a "slide" in our nation's security (National security slide," Commentary, Feb. 10).

Former CIA Director John Deutch may be guilty of stupidity in his careless treatment of high-security documents, but let's face it, our nation is a virtual sieve when it comes to the outflow of information, technology and high-tech weapons that can be turned against us if we fail to change our political way of doing business. In this context, our nation's virtually unreserved endorsement of free trade and unfettered commerce poses a far greater threat to our nation's security for at least two reasons.

First, U.S. corporations that provide our military with the greatest technological advantage in combat often sell their products outside the United States. High-paid corporate lobbyists using influence gained from high levels of campaign contributions from these same corporations can lower political barriers to the sale of advanced weapons to nations that may not consistently have American security interests as a top priority. Remember, it was a Rockville-based company that sold Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein the raw ingredients for the development of his biological weapons program. A recent report by the Defense Science Board's Task Force on Globalization and Security (a 27-member appointed board composed mostly of Defense Department and private-industry representatives) urges the United States to welcome and exploit an increasingly commercial and international defense industrial base.

The second, more stunning and unresolvable problem arises from the fact that the global trade of advanced technology is the primary driving force in our economy and that any technology has the inherent capability of being used for good or evil. A hammer can be used to build homes for the homeless or to crush skulls. This "dual-use" nature of a growing spectrum of increasingly powerful technologies virtually ensures the increasing availability of half a dozen general categories of weapons of mass destruction. Pharmaceutical equipment can make antibiotics, vaccines to save millions or deadly biological weapons that can kill tens of millions. Nuclear materials used for energy generation or advanced medical cures also can be the basis for crude nuclear weapons or can be used to contaminate water or food supplies.

The same processes and materials used in the production of pesticides, herbicides and disinfectants or even table salt can be used to make chemical weapons. Rocket technology used to lift communication or weather satellites into orbit also can be used to accurately deliver intercontinental ballistic missiles. Two commonplace chemical substances fuel oil and fertilizer can be combined in quantities sufficient to make explosives approaching the yield of a small nuclear device. Computer wares can be used to create computer viruses or launch cyber-attacks capable of disabling vital infrastructures that Americans depend on for commerce, banking, water, sanitation, travel, communication or defense.

To add insult to injury, corporations have lobbied effectively for the use of encryption technology for protecting trade secrets. The same technology also will be available for organized crime syndicates or terrorist sects that may want to hide criminal transactions, evade taxes or ship weapons of mass destruction.

What must be increasingly clear, or soon will be, is that "national security" is a myth. We will never be perfectly safe from those who want to do us harm, but we can minimize threats and maximize human freedoms by relying more on the rule of law. It worked for the Colonies more than 200 years ago. Marylanders and Virginians rarely bomb each other. The same concept of federation also could work for nations if they could give up their suicidal reliance on the law of force. Yes, Mr. Deutsch's behavior was foolish, but not nearly as foolish as the behavior of those who would have us believe that our nation's security is increased by reducing individual or corporate freedoms. Our greatest threat is ignorance of the reality that we can't have freedom, security and national sovereignty all at the same time.

CHUCK WOOLERY

Issues advocacy director

World Federalist Association

Washington

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