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Letters to the Editor

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2008

World Bank contracting

Steve Hirsch's article "Bush opposes World Bank contracting plan" (World, Wednesday) misses a number of important points about our plan to improve procurement systems in developing countries.

First, this is not about Zimbabwe, as your reporter suggests. It is about pilot programs in 10 countries with procurement systems that meet World Bank standards, and they will participate in the pilot in accordance with international best practices.

By further strengthening their capacity for quality procurement and international competitive bidding, we will improve their ability to fight corruption and overcome poverty.

At the same time, improved procurement and bidding standards will make it easier for international companies to compete, not just for contracts on World Bank-financed projects, but for a bigger slice of projects and procurement in these countries. So it will be good for business, too.

To date, we have held consultations with businesses and governments from 78 countries and are working closely with the Department of Commerce to hold additional consultations on our draft proposals in the coming weeks. We will continue to take great care to listen to the concerns of the business community and to take them into account in the pilot program.

As Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez himself pointed out, there is broad support for "increasing the capacity of borrowing countries to conduct fair and transparent procurement." A number of developed countries with strong business communities, including the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, already have recognized this and are supporting this pilot initiative.

JEFFREY GUTMAN

Vice president

Operations Policy and

Country Services

World Bank

Washington

It's the spirit of the man

Sen. Barack Obama is attempting to distance himself from his Chicago pastor by calling the Rev. Jeremiah Wright his spiritual adviser, not a political adviser ("Obama raps preacher's rants," Nation, Saturday).

In fact, this is precisely the problem with their relationship. It's profoundly obvious that no sane national figure would seek out Mr. Wright for political advice. However, it's the spirit of Mr. Obama that voters seek to know. The fact that Mr. Obama did not renounce Mr. Wright long ago may be telling.

MICHAEL P. RETHMAN

Kaneohe, Hawaii

Does D.C. abide by the Constitution?

William Garrett wrote "because there is no militia ... there is no reason for citizens to own guns, particularly because this makes U.S. citizens much more likely to die from gunshots than people in countries that do not allow gun ownership" ("Turn in your guns," Letters, yesterday).

Mr. Garrett, in effect, argues that because "militia" may have a different connotation or purpose today than when the Constitution was written, constitutional provisions should merely be dismissed.

His argument about rates of homicide by guns in the United States compared to other countries is probably correct, but the issue at heart is not whether something is sensible but whether a proposed law is legitimate under the provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

Also to be considered are the unintended consequences of any legislation and its enforceability. For example, the homicide rate by gun in Virginia, which does not have a law prohibiting all ownership of guns, is substantially lower than that of the District, where an enacted law that bans all ownership of guns is at dispute.

Numerous factors other than whether gun ownership is legal certainly are part of the problem. The D.C. law banning guns hasn't proved effective, but that also is not the main issue in the current judicial review. The issue is whether the Second Amendment to the Constitution means what it says and whether the D.C. law abides by the Constitution or violates it.

Our Constitution contains reasonable provisions for effecting change. It is not a particularly easy process, nor should it be. Allowing one coequal branch of our federal government, the judicial branch, to make whimsical changes to the Constitution has not worked out very well for us in the past 70 or so years. Similarly, permitting local jurisdictions to pass unconstitutional laws is not a good practice, only a means of breaking a higher law.

TED DUKE

Reston

The archbishop and illegals

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl seems to have the same problem with Webster's dictionary as most wealthy businessmen and out-of-touch politicians.

I suggest he take a glance at the definitions of "legal" (immigrant) and "illegal" (alien). They in no way equate. While the archbishop routinely espouses the laws of God and the Catholic Church, he falls short when it comes to the laws of man.

The use of the old, tired reasoning that "they are already here" is as ludicrous coming from him as when it's used by the foreign governments that have planned, organized and directed the problem.

To believe the "they are already here" philosophy is to agree with having Romans in Gaul, Nazis in Poland or Russians in Hungary. It was not legal then, and it fails to meet the legal test now.

Archbishop Wuerl does a fine job when lobbying for a taxpayer bailout of the Catholic school system. Maybe he should turn his lobbying skills toward his Catholic brethren south of the border and demand that Catholic governments there do their duty by their own Catholic citizens instead of operating an ongoing criminal enterprise based on illegal immigration. If he really wishes to explore the laws of man, Mexico would be a nice place to begin.

WILSON FARIS

Gaithersburg

Where does a member of the Catholic Church get off warning the American people about mass deportations of illegal aliens ("Wuerl eyes humanity for illegals," Page 1, Friday). I am a Roman Catholic, and my response to Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl is this: The United States is a sovereign nation that does not tell the Vatican how to conduct its affairs, and I would greatly appreciate it if the pope would return the favor.

Incidentally, somebody should remind Archbishop Wuerl that if we continue to admit large numbers of immigrants and refugees from Third World countries, the United States will no longer be the "world's wealthiest nation."

Do I have to draw this man a picture?

DAVE GORAK

Executive director

Midwest Coalition to

Reduce Immigration

La Valle, Wis.