- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 7, 2003

Turkish Cypriots should not settle for promises

The remarks of Thomas Weston, the U.S. special coordinator for Cyprus, as reflected in Friday’s Embassy Row column, tend to put the entire burden for a political settlement in the island on the Turkish side. This approach is not only one-sided, but also totally off the mark.

Turkey has always done all it could for peace and reconciliation on the island, as has the Turkish Cypriot side. It is thanks to Turkey’s deterrence that peace has prevailed on the island since 1974. The series of confidence-building measures initiated by the Turkish Cypriot side earlier this year, including border openings, is but the latest demonstration of Turkish Cypriot goodwill in respect to reconciliation. However, the Turkish Cypriot side cannot be expected to sacrifice its hard-won freedom and statehood in return for unrealistic, paper-made settlement plans or vague promises of economic development.

If the European Union is serious about facilitating a settlement in the island, it should use its carrot-and-stick policy, not against the Turkish Cypriot side or Turkey, but against the Greek Cypriot side, at least in equal measure. Handing membership to the Greek Cypriot side, literally on a silver platter, is both unjust and illegal and risks dividing Cyprus permanently.

OSMAN ERTUG

Representative

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Washington

School vouchers are right for the District

Deborah Simmons’ Op-Ed column Friday, “Why vouchers for D.C.?” was right on about D.C. public schools.

I cannot believe what a hold the union, bureaucrats and liberals have on the public schools in this country. They have gotten so corrupt and ineffective. I was a public school teacher in the 1970s and early 1980s. I also have been a private school teacher. What a difference.

So much money is out-and-out “wasted” in the public schools. So little of it goes to actual teaching and the classroom. You can conduct a very good program on very little if the money is used wisely and accounted for properly.

I attended D.C. schools in the 1960s, and they were outstanding. I had a wonderful public school education. Schools were a “haven” then of cozy comfortableness and security. No matter what went on at home, you knew school was going to be great. Too bad that no longer exists for today’s children.

Thanks again for speaking the truth.

DIANE IVES

Fort Washington

In the District right now, a huge debate is going on about school vouchers.

Here is the debate boiled down to its bare — and honest — essentials.

The opponents of school vouchers resent that some children will end up in superior schools and some will end up in mediocre schools, which they believe will be the primary consequence of school vouchers.

They would prefer for everyone to be in an equally horrible school rather than for some to be better off than others. This is what the communists believed, too: poverty for all rather than wealth for some, middle class for most and poverty for others.

The proponents of school vouchers emphasize choice and freedom. They also emphasize the obvious objective superiority of private schools. What they evade is that nobody has a choice about paying the taxes (which probably will rise ever higher) to pay for the school vouchers. Under school vouchers, people who do not have children — or who already take responsibility for the education of their own children — will still have to pay for the education of everyone else’s children.

In other words, socialism still will be the rule of education. Under socialism, everyone is responsible for everyone, but nobody is responsible for himself. The fact that many people who are either childless or whose children are grown are forced to spend part of their day paying for some stranger’s child to be educated at a Roman Catholic or Montessori school rather than at a public school does not change the basic injustice of this coercion.

The other issue evaded by advocates of school vouchers is how the performance of superior private schools will be affected once public money flows into their coffers.

Won’t vouchers essentially turn private schools into public schools? Do the conservatives really think the liberals won’t insist that if tax dollars go into private schools, government must regulate them more?

Right now, private schools stay in business by pleasing their customers — that is, the parents who pay the tuition. Private schools are not subject to all the politically correct nonsense and red tape that governs public schools. Under vouchers, private schools will have huge numbers of students coming in with government money. The outcome is easy to predict.

We can expect vouchers to do to education what Medicare did to health care.

Also, what if some private schools don’t want to accept vouchers? Will they be forced? Conservatives evade this issue, too.

As with so many other issues, the liberals are wrong — and the conservatives are even more wrong.

The only moral and practical solution to the growing education crisis in the District and elsewhere is total privatization of education. Leave education to the private marketplace — and in some cases, to parents themselves, with competent home-schooling on the rise every year.

Let freedom and justice rule and watch the innovation begin.

MICHAEL J. HURD

Columbia, Md.

Tariffs merely level the steel trade field

Tod Lindberg refers to “the awful steel tariff decision” in his column criticizing President Bush’s failure to adequately promote free trade (“The value of trade,” Op-Ed, Tuesday).

The international steel market has not been characterized by “free trade” in decades. Construction and operating subsidies to steel mills in Europe, Latin America and Asia have created chronic excess capacity — about 200 million tons, or double what American mills can produce. In turn, foreign cartels allocate customers in their domestic markets and then encourage mills to dump steel at lower prices in the United States.

These practices have devastated U.S. mills and been ignored by most antitrust authorities. To its credit, the European Union has sought to police these illegal activities; however, they are so endemic as to overwhelm investigators, much like speeding frustrates state troopers on the Fourth of July weekend.

As the former director of economics at the International Trade Commission, I know full well the benefits of free trade, when you can find it. But, trade in steel is a rigged game, and the Bush administration is merely trying to level the playing field.

PETER MORICI

Professor

Robert H. Smith School of Business

University of Maryland

College Park

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