- The Washington Times - Monday, January 14, 2002

CAFE proposal would harm slowing car industry

Last week's news that Ford will lay off more than 20,000 workers in the United States underscores the reason why the U.S. Senate should not move forward with legislation mandating higher miles-per-gallon limits on vehicles. The auto industry, like many industries in America, is in a fragile state. Mandating costly new regulations, such as higher CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) limits, will cause more layoffs and affect many auto companies other than just Ford.

The CAFE proposal before the U.S. Senate would inflate the price of sport utility vehicles, pickups and minivans at a time when those vehicles are driving auto sales. Half of the new domestic vehicles being sold by auto dealers are either sport utility vehicles, pickups or minivans. American consumers value these vehicles for their utility despite the fact that they get less gas mileage than cars. It is counterproductive and unfair for the Senate to pass a mandate that would punish the owners of these vehicles, especially when the world is awash in petroleum and gas prices are plummeting.

The Senate would be wise to promote policies that spur economic growth, not deter it.


BROCK YATES

Wyoming, N.Y.


Brock Yates is editor at large for Car and Driver magazine.

NED didn't fund feminists in Afghanistan

In the Jan. 10 Inside Politics column, you give the false impression that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) subsidized an Afghan Women's Summit for Democracy, organized by the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI), in which some prominent American feminists were involved.

In fact, the NED did not support this conference. Although NED has given grants to SIGI in the past, it currently works only with the Jordanian branch of the organization, which operates independent of its global counterpart for activities within Jordan. Those activities include teaching the basic principles of democracy and human rights as well as undertaking practical programs such as computer training. When NED did fund specific programs of the broader SIGI organization in the past (not since 1998), we always took great care to ensure that activities such as leadership training for women and basic human rights education made no attempt to advance a particular Western agenda, feminist or otherwise.


JANE RILEY JACOBSEN

Manager, public affairs

National Endowment for Democracy

Washington

Fur for the homeless

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is thrilled that so many homeless people were able to benefit from our distribution of unwanted furs ("PETA furs to keep homeless warm," Jan. 11).

Unfortunately, it's too late for the animals who suffered and died at the hands of the fur industry; we cannot give back their coats and lives but we can help the homeless, many of whom cannot afford to buy any coat.

Each year, millions of animals are trapped painfully in steel-jaw leghold traps. Those who don't freeze or starve usually are beaten to death or suffocated when the trapper arrives hours or days later. Animals on fur farms fare no better. They are crowded in wire mesh cages, where they suffer from disease, parasites, neglect and stress. They are electrocuted anally, poisoned, suffocated and/or skinned alive.

PETA has been inundated with donations of old furs from people who cannot bear to wear symbols of suffering any longer. We use the furs in protests and displays, donate them to wildlife rehabilitators for bedding and distribute them to needy people. If you have an old, unwanted fur in the back of your closet, send it to PETA at 501 Front St., Norfolk, Va., 23510. Not only will you help animals and homeless people, you'll help yourself, too fur donations are tax deductible. For more information, please see www.furisdead.com or call 888/FUR-AWAY.


HEATHER MOORE

Correspondent

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)

Norfolk

Private colleges an option for low-income students

In your story on the Lumina Foundation's college accessibility study, you missed an opportunity to highlight concerns about serious flaws in the research ("Study says public colleges still expensive for many," Jan. 7). Rather than improving accessibility, the report, "Unequal Opportunity," could well have the opposite effect, leading middle- and lower-income families to believe college is out of reach and that independent colleges and universities are particularly unaffordable.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Higher-education institutions nationwide, and particularly private ones, are increasing institutional student aid and have designed a vast array of academic and personal support programs that ensure that median- and low-income students not only enter college, but complete their degrees. The average family income of students at private colleges and universities is lower than that of students at state institutions the exact opposite of what the report's findings might indicate.

Private institutions enroll fewer than one-quarter of all undergraduates but account for nearly one-third of all graduates; however, the authors only weighed data for how students accomplished entry into postsecondary institutions on a state-by-state basis. They stopped short of explaining the significance of the outcomes of the students' entry. Access is only part of the struggle. More than six of every 10 students at private colleges graduate to the workplace in five years, while attrition rates are higher at taxpayer-supported public institutions no matter how selective or affluent the institution.

Many private institutions would be able to serve more middle- and low-income students if state governments would establish appropriate student financial aid policies and create a more level playing field through their investments in higher education. State policymakers continue to encourage existing large institutions with dismal attrition rates to grow even larger. Meanwhile, they ignore the underused capacity of private institutions, which the state could help fill at a marginal cost. Given the burdens on today's taxpayers already, you would think the report's authors would have put forward a much wider and wiser range of policy recommendations.


RICHARD EKMAN

President

Council of Independent Colleges

Washington

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