- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Put out more flags, but respect them

In the days following September 11, millions of Americans expressed their patriotism by buying and flying our country's flag. The Stars and Stripes could be seen on homes, office buildings and vehicles of every type. People took to wearing flag pins, hats and shirts. Some patriotic souls even placed flags on the bridges and overpasses of Interstate 95 in Northern Virginia.
While I think these expressions of patriotism are wonderful, it saddens me to see the torn, frayed and dirty flags hanging from car antennas, mailboxes, decks and front porches some eight months after 9/11.
My fellow citizens, if you are going to display the American flag as a sign of your patriotism and love for our country, please treat the flag with honor and respect by displaying it correctly.
Don't fly your flag at night, unless it's properly illuminated. Don't fly your flag in the rain unless it is an all-weather type. If your flag is torn, mend it. If it's beyond repair, burn it in a respectful, discrete manner. But whatever you do, you don't keep a torn and filthy flag whipping in the breeze from the antenna of your car.
It has been nearly a year since the events of September 11. It's about time to replace that worn-out flag with a new one, which by far is the better way to express patriotism.

STUART SMITH
Stafford, Va.

'Working mom' is redundant

While otherwise enjoying Gabriella Boston's Sunday review of the Sylvia Ann Hewlett book "Creating a Life" ("Having a job and, or a baby?" Books), I almost choked on my cereal when I read the last paragraph. As a former career-oriented woman who is taking several years off from paid work to care for her family and home full time, I have never been more insulted by the media (which regularly belittle motherhood) than when Ms. Boston drew a distinction between mothers and "productive citizens," defining them as separate roles that need to be "juggled."

I'm sorry that I'm not earning a paycheck, but feeding, cleaning, nurturing, loving, guiding and educating children is probably the most time-consuming and productive activity one can undertake. Additionally, full-time mothers make up a large percentage of the volunteer work force in schools, churches, community organizations and other charities. I continue to be amazed at the thoughtlessness that goes into writing about mothers.

It's ironic how some people deem a nanny or day care worker to be a "working woman" while considering a woman who chooses to be the full-time caretaker of her own offspring as, at best, "just" a mother or, at worst, an unproductive citizen. I could keep on giving my opinion, but I must go waste my time and the rest of the country's time by feeding my infant.


GINA SEDAGHATKISH

Silver Spring

China's Russian missiles endanger Taiwan

China's new threat to Taiwan, noted in "China test-fires new air-to-air missile" (Page One, Monday), necessitates a U.S. response to restore deterrence, which, unfortunately, has been the bedrock of peace and stability in that region since the late 1970s.

This military calibration, however, must be accompanied by a concomitant diplomatic strategy: namely, dissuading Russia from complicating America's strategic posture in the western Pacific.

Since China has not renounced the use of force against Taiwan, the United States has a legal obligation (under the Taiwan Relations Act) to do whatever it takes to help Taiwan defend itself, including arms sales and possible U.S. military intervention. But Russia has no similar motive for selling large quantities of weapons to China such as the AA-12 Adder, the weapon discussed in The Times article other than greed. If unchecked, Russia's arms proliferation could threaten U.S. interests.

The Bush administration should use all leverages, including the president's personal rapport with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia's desire for good relations with the West, to encourage Russia to show more restraint and caution in selling arms to China.


VINCENT WEI-CHENG WANG

Associate Professor of Political Science

University of Richmond

Richmond

The IRScan even fleece an American sheepherder in Greece

As an American living abroad, I was amused by Daniel Mitchell's "America: Europe's tax collector?" (Commentary, June 27). He finds it outrageous that the European Union would seek to collect taxes from its citizens on income earned in the United States, and rails about "an outrageous assault on U.S. sovereignty" because "[e]very nation should have the right to determine how income earned inside its borders is taxed."

Mr. Mitchell seems to be ignorant of the fact that it is the United States, almost alone among nations, that requires its expatriate citizens to pay tax on income earned inside the borders of nations where they reside. Although there is currently an $80,000 exemption, all of us Americans working overseas must file a tax return even if our incomes do not surpass the threshold. (Self-employed individuals must pay self-employment tax regardless of their income.)

Apparently, Mr. Mitchell also is unaware that, as of last year, the United States requires all American-owned foreign banks to compromise the privacy of their clients and report to the Internal Revenue Service all investment income earned by their customers who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. It would seem rather hypocritical for the IRS and the Treasury Department to reject similar moves by the Europeans.


KURT VOGEL

Tokyo

Cuba's imminent vacuum

As predicted in yesterday's World article "Reality to clash with idealism when communism collapses," the bankruptcy that is Cuban communism will implode, as any system incompatible with human nature eventually must. The big problem in post-Castro Cuba will be the vacuum left behind that once was filled by human institutions that were usurped by communism. As in Russia, the years of coercion have destroyed the infrastructure of family, community, church, social organizations, commercial support groups, etc. Because these natural institutions were incompatible with the artificial dictates of communism, they were subverted, disrupted and in some cases destroyed. Without them, natural trust levels and communications are disrupted. It may take generations for them to redevelop and redeploy.

Free enterprise is not a rationally designed system; it is a spontaneously developed set of naturally selected social mechanisms, formed through trial and error over many generations of societal evolution. It cannot be reintroduced by fiat. Rather, it must redevelop itself through slowly formed institutions that are supportive of its purposes the free, open communications and interactive trust levels that inform a society with its members' values, rewarding those who interpret, and supply, those individual values.


RON LEWIS

Mandeville, La.


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