- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2000

World Bank gets satisfactory results

Christina Lamb's Nov. 6 article "Foreign aid helps corrupt get richer" contains so many errors about the World Bank that it is hard to know where to start to set the record straight.

The World Bank does not employ 17,000 people, nor does it lend $50 billion a year. It employs fewer than 9,000 and last year lent $15 billion. It does not have a 55 percent to 60 percent project failure rate. To the contrary, according to the independent Operations Evaluation Department, in the past two fiscal years, 81 percent of dollars lent achieved satisfactory results an impressive figure for an institution that is inherently dealing in risk.

Ms. Lamb goes on to cite Mozambique's cashew industry. She says that the World Bank's advice to drop a tax on cashew nuts cost workers thousands of jobs. In fact, the tax depressed the incomes of about 1 million poor farmers to protect the jobs of about 10,000 higher-paid workers in the processing industry.

By reducing the tax, the Mozambique government put more money into the hands of poor farmers. Prices for raw nuts, adjusted for inflation, increased from 10 cents per pound in 1994 to 18 cents this year.

As Princeton economist Paul Krugman has observed, the bank's advice in Mozambique was decidedly pro-poor.


Head of media

World Bank


Israel must not accept status quo

I commend you for your balanced news analysis in "Both sides in Mideast learned from riots" (Nov. 5). Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for reader Keith Hutcheson (" 'Land for peace' will only make war in the Middle East," Letters, Nov. 5). He follows the all-too-common pattern of saying what should not be done without following with what can be done.

In a PBS interview on Sept. 13, 1993, the day the Oslo accords were signed, former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said a motivation for entering into the Oslo dialogue was his concern that continuation of the status quo posed a significant threat to fundamental Jewish values. (He also might have included Palestinian values.)

It will be difficult for Israel ever to become a true democracy instead of the oligarchy that it is as long as millions of its "subjects" are not represented in the government. (Like many others with a higher vision, Mr. Rabin paid for it with his life.)



Now what, Senator Clinton?

Thank you for your editorial "Senator Hillary Clinton" (Nov. 8). As a resident of Oklahoma, I had no impact on the vote in New York, but I am proud that my sister and her family in New York City did nothing to aid the election of the scourge of Arkansas. Now we will see whether Hillary Rodham Clinton can deliver on even 1 percent of the promises she made during her campaign. As first lady, she has had an obligation to no one but herself, and she demonstrated time and again that personal gain was her No. 1 priority.

Now Mrs. Clinton has real obligations. Spin cycles only last so long, and soon she will be put to the test. She will have to answer to real people who will judge her by the quality of their lives and not by voter surveys, Hollywood-style campaigns or incessant adulation from the adoring news media.

As for the retirement of New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, his voice in the Senate and in the country will be sorely missed by people from across the political spectrum.


Ramona, Okla.

NASA political conspiracy is science fiction

I am puzzled by James Oberg's weird explanation of recent space policy ("Democrats in space," Op-Ed, Nov. 3). Mr. Oberg's article which sounds like a plot from "The X-Files" threatens his reputation for careful and reliable analysis.

With regard to the International Space Station, President Clinton inherited a program in disarray; he was not responsible for it. During the eight years before his election, the government spent all of the money originally appropriated for station hardware ($8 billion) on redesign work. To save the project, White House and NASA officials broadened international participation to include Russia.

The primary opposition to the space station in 1993 came from Northern Democrats in the House of Representatives not from White House budget cutters. Officials from the White House and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration forged a coalition of 112 House Republicans and 104 House Democrats to save the project by a single vote (215-216).

Mr. Oberg charges that White House politics have influenced the NASA flight schedule. Such charges have been made before and thoroughly refuted. After the space shuttle Challenger accident in 1986, critics claimed that Reagan White House officials pressured NASA into launching the shuttle, a charge that was proved false by the Rogers Commission. Last year Mr. Oberg charged that NASA had launched the Mars Polar Lander knowing it would fail, and again he was proved to be wrong. Some critics also believe NASA faked the moon landings.

People do not need to invent political conspiracies to understand why the space program is not at the point where people hoped it would be by next year 2001. The facts can do this by themselves.



Ten ways to reclaim power from Hollywood and government

Your paper and the news media in general have spent a lot of time covering the feud between Hollywood and Washington politicians. My family couldn't care less about Hollywood, but I do care about how many of my tax dollars will be spent funding the politicians' crusade.

The American family will end up paying for this ruckus, even though many of us already have decided to tune out Hollywood by turning off the TV set. There is, however, something families can do to give both feuding parties less power:

• Sell the television and VCR. A decent, used practice piano costs about the same amount.

• Take your children to the library. Ignoring the computers (and the unsupervised children downloading pornography on the Internet), check out books for your children by Bill Peet, Dr. Seuss and C.W. Anderson.

• Teach your children how to clean. Play the classical radio station in the background while they help you clean house. They will fuss about it at first, but you have the veto power. You are the parent.

• Plant herbs in your yard. Send the children into the herb garden to harvest the basil and parsley for the evening's vegetables or salad. Teach them how to make the salad.

• Take your children for a walk or hike. Only Americans think the car is a substitution for God-given feet. Feet do not burn oil and gas, and exercise will make everyone feel better. If the children walk on a regular basis, they will grow up to see walking as the norm, no matter how lethargic the neighbors might be.

• Adopt several pets. The people in the pet store will be delighted to get you going on this one, and pets make far better company than the crazy Hollywood people on television.

• Take your children to an antiques store. Have the employees explain any item you do not recognize.

• Sing, sing, sing. If you embarrass your children, more power to you. Make up songs and have your children join in. My mother and sisters and I still sing together.

• Rather than watching television during dinner, read poetry by Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost aloud to your children at the dinner table.

• Post the Ten Commandments on your refrigerator.

Those are just a few ideas. It's time for Americans to escape from the television and to start appreciating their freedoms. As for the feud between Washington and Hollywood, just ignore it.



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