- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 5, 2002

Readers respond to Leahy's 'Achilles' heel in terror war'

In his March 4 Commentary column "Achilles' heel in terror war," Sen. Patrick Leahy is right to point out that conditions of poverty and hopelessness provide a breeding ground for terrorism. Foreign aid can alleviate these conditions, but the cure is to provide economic opportunity.
The most important policy the United States can pursue is the promotion of trade, particularly in industries important to less-developed countries, such as the textile industry. Yet the Democrats have been obstructionists on crucial trade initiatives, such as Trade Promotion Authority for the president, which is needed to negotiate trade agreements with poor countries. Both Republicans and Democrats should realize that it is in our national interest to promote prosperity in impoverished countries and that the most effective and proven way to do so is through trade, not through foreign aid.

STACIE BECK
Newark, Del.

Stacie Beck is associate professor of economics at the University of Delaware.In his March 4 Commentary column, Sen. Patrick Leahy provides a typical liberal "solution": If we just open our wallets a little more, he says, the world's problems will go away and people will love us. Much of the aid we have sent over the years has done little or nothing to help those in poverty, Instead, it has served to shore up tyrannical leaders and the thugs who keep them in power. Liberals have a long tradition of throwing money at problems, making them worse. This is not just true of foreign aid; it is also true of the trillions put into poverty and education programs within our borders.
No, Mr. Leahy, the disaster on September 11 was not caused by poverty and oppression. It was caused by years of neglect by Congress and the president to their primary responsibility keeping us safe from attack. Let's stop trying to divert attention from this fact.

ANNE ALLEN
Washington

Was welfare reform really a success?

Your Feb. 28 editorial "Real welfare reform" begins by claiming that the 1996 welfare reform bill has reduced welfare caseloads by 56 percent. However, there is a difference of opinion on the true success of welfare reform. While the number of people leaving welfare did increase, the number of people who moved out of poverty due to welfare policies is not substantial. The writer makes no mention of some salient points:
Forty percent of single mothers who had been receiving welfare left without moving into employment. Nobody really knows what happened to them.
Nationally, only 12 percent of children who are eligible receive child-care assistance under welfare.
There is absolutely no evidence to show that people in poverty have children to get larger benefits. If anything, families lose income by having more children.
To lay the blame for out-of-wedlock births at the door of people receiving welfare is very prejudicial. No mention is made of out-of-wedlock births for middle-income families.
The number of families sanctioned off welfare is undetermined. A high percentage of those who were sanctioned won their appeals, which leads to the conclusion that they were wrongly sanctioned in the first place.
In a newly published study supported by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, it has been found that wages for those people moving from welfare to work did not increase over a substantial period. Rather, they remained flat at between $5.50 and $7.50 an hour.
For The Washington Times to imply that welfare recipients have caused a "socially catastrophic … crisis of illegitimacy" is merely repeating an old stereotype about those in poverty. People need living wages, health care and affordable housing in order to move out of poverty. Government programs that do not address these issues will not work. Social engineering is not the answer to social programs a more equitable distribution of wealth is.

NICK PHILLIPS
Economic policy analyst
National Coalition for the Homeless
Washington

Magazine denies racism charge

A March 3 letter about the Feb. 23-24 American Renaissance conference from Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League includes several errors. David Duke has never been on the program of any of our conferences. Likewise, Samuel Francis is not a "former" syndicated columnist; his column appears in papers nationwide. If Mr. Foxman actually attended a conference rather than rail from afar, he might get his facts straight.
Mr. Foxman loves incendiary adjectives. He managed to work "racist," "neo-Nazi," "fascist," and "white supremacist" into one short letter. Our views are hardly elucidated by name-calling. We believe the character of the United States will change for the worse if nonwhite immigration reduces whites to a minority, and that whites have every right to oppose Third-World immigration. Mr. Foxman no doubt thinks Israelis has a right to an immigration policy that keeps Jews in the majority. Does that make him a "neo-Nazi" or a "Jewish supremacist"?

JARED TAYLOR
Editor
American Renaissance
Oakton

Rethinking the drinking age

Jacob Sullum's March 4 Commentary column "Lifting the dry fog about teen drinkers" was right on target. It's about time someone had the mettle to address how drinking laws treat 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds as children. Mr. Sullum accurately points out that when these young adults "drink on the sly in unsupervised settings, they are more likely to drink excessively, more likely to drive while intoxicated, and less likely to seek help when someone needs it."
The arguments for lowering the drinking age to 18 (particularly for beer and wine) are many. It would allow a period in which young people could learn to drink in moderation a time when parents still have some degree of control. It would cease making criminals of the vast majority of our grown teen-agers. Lastly, it would confer greater adult recognition to those who can already vote, get married, live independently and, most importantly, serve in the military and be subject to a draft. How can anyone who has seen "We Were Soldiers" or "Black Hawk Down" deny these young men the right to purchase a bottle of beer or a glass of wine?
It's time that our legislators, both at home and in Washington, wake up to reality and stop listening to the exaggerations of such groups as the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

G. HUNTINGTON BANISTER
Springfield

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