- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 26, 2005

Changing textbook trends

Andrew Johnson’s article “Students go online to swap, sell texts” (Page 1, Monday), is thought-provoking.

Not only are the days of selling back used textbooks to campus bookstores passing by; the days of campus bookstores might be over in a decade or more. Technology for electronic books and high-speed, high-quality printers is already available.

In the not too distant future, high-speed textbook-quality printers will allow book publishers to distribute textbooks over the Internet to students. Campus print shops could print textbooks for students onsite. Other students might prefer using the electronic version of the textbook on their computers.

With the elimination of bookstores, inventories and shipping costs, prices could fall dramatically. Perhaps best of all, buying a new edition of a textbook could be as simple as updating the electronic copy of the previous edition.

ARUN KHANNA

Visiting professor of finance

College of Business Administration

Butler University

Indianapolis

Every parent’s nightmare

The recent shootings at the high school in Red Lake, Minn., represent every parent’s nightmare (“Student kills grandparents at home, 7 at school,” Nation, Tuesday).

The impact of this crime will be felt by dozens of people for the rest of their lives. The crime was the worst school shooting in our nation since the Columbine High School shootings six years ago.

These nine murders are the most committed by a single person in Minnesota history, but this crime would not be worthy of the death penalty, according to the Supreme Court, because the killer, Jeff Weise, was younger than 18.

M.J. GRAY

Norfolk

The Gypsy problem

Andrew Borowiec’s article “EU seeks to embrace Gypsies” (World,Sunday), is incomplete and not very objective. I can only speak about the Gypsies in Hungary.

During World War II, there were very few Gypsy caravans. The Gypsies normally lived on the edges of the villages because their behavior was considered intolerable. It is true that Hungarian farmers discriminated against them, but for a good reason. The average Gypsy was perceived as not wanting to work and as loving to steal. In Hungary, the Gypsies could live unmolested; there were no concentration camps or exterminations.

Under the Communist regime, the state police tried to establish labor camps for the Gypsies, but they failed because the Gypsies made such a racket and refused to work, so the camps were dissolved.

After the Communist regime was replaced by a so-called “social democracy” system in 1990, the leftist anti-Hungarian liberals found a new agenda: blatant anti-Gypsyism. The former bleeding-heart Communist politicians started a campaign to save the Gypsies by spending lots of their money to help the Gypsies become productive citizens.

Unfortunately, all this good will failed. The politicians could not change the Gypsies’ mentality. Separate Gypsy classes at school were a necessity because Gypsy children could not keep up with the average Hungarian students.

Also, their behavior in the classroom made it impossible to run an efficient school.

All over Europe, police departments handle Gypsy criminals with tied hands because of racial accusations of manhandling. Many times criminals go unpunished. Good luck to the EU embracers.

EMOKE DE KUN

Washington

The truth about privatizing Afghanistan

“Privatizing Afghanistan” (Op-Ed, March 17) oddly and dangerously pits aid organizations against the Afghan private sector.

However, the truth is that Afghanistan’s fragile democratic experiment will succeed only through the joint efforts of government, the private sector and nonprofit agencies working to provide essential services to a desperately poor population.

Aid organizations, which tend to work through local partners, are a major source of funding for Afghan private contractors. In the past week, for instance, CARE has signed contracts with 18 Afghan contractors to help construct schools in Logar and Bamiyan provinces.

Contrary to the article’s assertions, wages paid by nongovernmental organizations often pale in comparison to the salaries paid by international businesses and private contractorsoperatingin Afghanistan.

“Privatizing Afghanistan” distorts the overall role of aid organizations in the nation’s development. Our aim is to work with the democratically elected government as it strives to be a stable force and to better the lives of the people of Afghanistan.

PAUL BARKER

Country director

CARE

Kabul

Catholics and the death penalty

As a practicing Catholic, I have mixed feelings about the U.S. Catholic bishops’ new campaign to work for the abolition of the death penalty (“Catholics retreat on death penalty,” Nation, Tuesday).

I agree with Pope John Paul II’s call to end the infliction of capital punishment in our culture of death, but over the years, too many bishops have failed to make important moral distinctions on life issues. In particular, there is the misguided notion among some Catholics that abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment are equally bad, when such is not the case.

Abortion and euthanasia are intrinsically evil, meaning they can never be morally justified. Capital punishment, however, is only extrinsically evil, meaning it is permissible under some circumstances. This is because the Catholic Church has traditionally taught that the state does have the right to inflict capital punishment on those guilty of heinous crimes.

Perhaps the best arguments for abolishing the death penalty in the United States are that we have had a flawed justice system that, tragically, has put innocent people on death row and that we allow the killing of innocent unborn children through abortion, thereby forfeiting the right to inflict capital punishment.

So while I appreciate what the bishops are trying to do in this regard, I also wish they would speak out much more forcefully on issues such as the scandal of pro-choice “Catholic” politicians, the Terri Schiavo matter, liturgical abuse and homosexuality in the priesthood.

MATT C. ABBOTT

Chicago

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