- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 4, 2003

Wrong Australian jurisdiction

I love reading The Washington Times but was rather taken aback by the headline "Sydney cracks down on migrants" (World, Thursday).

Sydney is the capital of the Australian state of New South Wales. Sydney, recent host to the summer Olympics, has no power at all over migrants, legal or otherwise. That function is exercised solely by the Australian federal government, which is seated in Canberra.


GREG GOSPER

Brisbane, Australia

Rangel's flawed premise

Back in 1990, Rep. Charles Rangel and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus claimed Operation Desert Storm was going to have an adverse impact on minorities. They claimed that blacks made up a higher percentage of the enlisted ranks than their share of the general population, the implication being that white politicians were sending blacks to die for their benefit.This reasoning informs Mr. Rangel's desire to renew the draft ("Inside Politics," Nation, Tuesday). Supposedly, Congress will be less likely to commit U.S. forces to combat because a draft would impact the middle and upper classes, mainly white, to which members of Congress belong.

Yet, Mr. Rangel's presupposition goes against history. The combat deaths in Desert Storm if one compares the percentages of the population the various races constitute were disproportionately white. The same was true in Vietnam, when we had a draft. Because Mr. Rangel's reasoning in pushing for a new draft has no basis in truth, he is practicing race baiting at its worst.

Mr. Rangel's final insult is to our military personnel. He claims that most have joined for the free training, job skills and a better way of life and not to fight for their country, if needed. This is an insult to both the intelligence of our military personnel and their patriotism.Mr. Rangel cannot produce a single survey to show this to be true. No one joins the military to die, but everyone who joins realizes that the job might require that sacrifice. Sure, they join to get training and pay, but an important part of the equation is something called patriotism. Mr. Rangel does not appreciate this, it seems.


CMDR. WAYNE L. JOHNSON

U.S. Navy (retired)

New Orleans

No cigar for lesbian moms

Thursday's Page One article about lesbian "domestic partners" "having" a baby was very upbeat, but I just about cried for the new arrival and what the future holds for her ("Region's first baby of '03 born in Fairfax").

This little girl will be reared without the love of a father. She will never be able to call someone "Daddy." She will never have the first dance at her wedding (hoping that she marries a man) saved for her father. She will never look forward to seeing her father coming up the driveway at day's end with "something special for her." She will never be able to make a man proud that his daughter has given birth to a grandchild. Finally, she will never know how much the love of a father can transcend time and space and change the world for the better. No, this little girl may forever wonder what it would have been like to have a man called "Dad" in her life.

Lesbian mothers such as Helen Rubin are selfish for advancing their wants before the needs of their children. That they do so comes as no shock. After all, society has told men that they no longer are necessary in the home.

Future generations will pay a heavy price for the absence of fathers from families. Just like the black American home is suffering the price for having so many homes without fathers, so will the innocent children born to unmarried couples who think having a baby is cool and end up leaving the child in day care after he's born.

Unfortunately, I bet a similar story will unfold for the celebrated child of Thursday's Page One "parents" who found science on their side but left moral reasoning out in the cold.


CHARLES M. BYRD

Louisa, Va.

Soldiers don't earn slave wages

Retired Sgt. Christopher J. Van Loon did some unusual math to prove that soldiers are underpaid ("Soldiers work hard for the money," Letters, Dec. 29). For example, he conveniently forgot that every soldier gets 30 days off every year, while claiming that soldiers work 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However, the most important part of Sgt. Van Loon's own military pay is suggested by the qualifier to his rank: "Retired." Sgt. Van Loon is retired, while, presumably, most everyone else his age is still working and a long way from retirement.

Pensions constitute a huge part of military pay that is usually disregarded in any pay comparability calculation at least for those soldiers who serve the 20 years required to draw on their pensions. Military personnel do put in long hours during parts of their careers, but they also get "shore duty," where they have very lax work schedules, and time off after deployments and training that doesn't count against their leave. Thus, Sgt. Van Loon's claim that soldiers work for slave wages is a gross exaggeration.

Concerning his complaint that his military wife leaves home at 5:15 a.m. and returns at 6 p.m., he should ask some Washington-area commuters how long their workday is.


STEVEN W. BRENNAN

Waldorf, Md.

Conserving oil, avoiding frivolous consumption

I was delighted to read Jack Rutner's rebuttal ("Unlike Europe, U.S. economy is cooking with gas," Wednesday) of my letter ("Columnist ignores conservation," Monday). Obviously, it got the attention it deserved. If my letter had merely promoted the "European model" for oil conservation, then my message would perhaps have been justifiably ignored.

Americans consume almost 20 times more oil per capita than the Chinese, but it is clearly unfair to compare the United States to what is a lesser-developed country. That is why, despite this extraordinary difference, I did not mention China in my original letter.

Nevertheless, the citizens of France, Germany and Japan live in the Western, industrialized world. Their standard of living is comparable to that of the United States. I really doubt that the robustness of the U.S. economy requires Americans to consume twice as much oil as their European counterparts.

As a counter-rebuttal to Mr. Rutner's justifiable distaste for government meddling, I would like to point out that in a freer market, driving would be more expensive for Americans than it is today. If we cannot stomach a higher federal energy tax, then I suggest that we reduce the federal subsidies we currently spend on road maintenance. Given that today's technology makes driving on turnpikes much more convenient, I would welcome increased privatization of our so-called freeways. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Perhaps it was my suggestion that buying a sport utility vehicle is "unpatriotic" that really hit a nerve with some of my fellow conservatives. I would like to reiterate that there is no practical justification for buying one. The issue of "large vehicle being safer" is completely discredited. Buying an SUV is frivolous, wasteful and, yes, unpatriotic. Saudi Arabia only supplies 14 percent of our oil imports. Simple voluntary conservation measures can go a long way toward pressuring the Saudi government to mend its ways.

I shudder at the thought of America becoming like Sweden, but if our economic superstructure is dependent on frivolous consumption that enriches our enemies, then a much worse fate awaits us.

Is this the world we want our children to inhabit? The war against terrorism begins at home.


ANTONIO R. CHAVES

Houston

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