A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.
The business world
Free trade imposes an exorbitant toll on disadvantaged economies
Editor, The Times:
I think editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey may still be talking past the opposing view in the free trade vs. fair trade debate (“Five years later, WTO still ignites local passions,” Times editorial column, Dec. 16). Fair trade, among other things, is about giving small businesses, workers and regions a level playing field against multinational corporate giants.
Ramsey’s example is that fair trade can hurt Chinese or Vietnamese workers. But free trade also puts a lot of small farms and businesses out of work and takes profits out of regions and countries that need them. Monsanto’s successful agribusiness wars against small farmers in India is a good example.
In Ramsey’s appearance on KBCS-FM, a caller said it is wasteful and wrong to ship food across the ocean when we can grow it right here. I don’t know if it is wrong, but it is wasteful and hazardous to public health.
Large ships burn tremendous amounts of fossil fuel, emitting tons of carcinogenic compounds into our air. This is a huge cost to all of us, even if it doesn’t appear on a company’s balance sheet. Fuel may be cheap to shipping companies, but it will one day be very expensive.
Jonathan Freedman, Seattle
Dollars to dynasties
Bruce Ramsey argues that people in low-wage countries are marginally better off now. They may be. However, it is disingenuous to ignore the collateral damage of transnational corporate trade, most worrisome of which is our enormous and growing trade deficit.
We now import high-value manufactured goods and export commodities: wheat, soybeans, scrap metal, used paper, and most troublesome of all, dollars. Our annual trade deficit is $600 billion and rising, a direct result of outsourcing our manufacturing base.
The beneficiaries of free trade are the management and stockholders of a few very profitable corporations that demand and get price concessions from suppliers who then must either move production to China or close up shop.
Factories in the U.S. close daily or offshore their manufacturing. Locally, big employers find that high-value work Americans once did so well can be done for a third the cost elsewhere. Boeing and Microsoft are examples.
In the long run, all Americans lose. Foreigners now own trillions of U.S. dollars and when they decide to spend them, they can buy us lock, stock and barrel. That’s the flip side of free trade.
Thomas Allen, Seattle
A fair trade
The Times may benefit itself and its readers by utilizing Bruce Ramsey’s common-sense perspective on free trade. There are legions of talented and articulate foreign writers fluent in English in countries like India and Pakistan. The Times may be able to purchase their comparable or superior services as editorial columnists at a fraction of the cost. This could help The Times remain financially solvent and expose your readership to a greater global diversity of views. It’s a win-win scenario illustrating one of the many potential benefits of free trade.
Denny Stern, Seattle
Keep the Sabbath separate
Science is science and faith is faith. Science is taught in our schools based on its rigorous history of testing theories using the scientific method as they apply to general laws. Faith is what any individual is free to believe based on their own personal beliefs and requires no test or basis in fact or reality (“Evolution sticker shock” and “Entertaining the notion of a place of wonder,” guest commentaries, Dec. 16).
The fact we even exist is so miraculously unbelievable and so difficult to comprehend it is a perfectly logical and human reaction to ponder the many possible reasons for our lives here on Earth.
Attributing our existence to some “Divine Being” is a reasonable response and we have been doing it as a species for thousands of years. However, declaring that mystery as grounds to include it in our “science” curriculum is absurd.
Oh, by the way, which of the many gods that have held court over the approximately 10,000 years of religious belief shall we use as our basis for the search for scientific proof of his existence? More important, does he really care whether we prove he exists?
Todd Harps, Seattle
None so blind
A key argument used by Darwinists is that those attacking the scientific certainty of evolutionary theory are only offering religious-based alternatives. It is not an “either-or” question.
Often called the “most respectable academic critic of evolution,” Philip Johnson pointed out in his 1993 book, “Darwin on Trial,” that there is no scientific evidence of “macro”-evolution: evolution from one species to another. He and other scientists who dispute Darwin’s theories hold that it is unreasonable to believe random mutation and natural selection could ever have produced such complex organisms as the human eye.
These are valid objections, and they should be examined openly and scientifically.
Regardless of whether one believes or disbelieves the theory of evolution, we must accept that it is only a theory, and our children need to know this. To attack anybody who questions the theory as a “religious fanatic” is in itself dogmatic on behalf of the Darwinists.
If the Darwinists are so confident in the scientific validity of their position, let them argue their position on its scientific merits. Leave aside the personal attacks and political obfuscation that we see too often in our modern society. This kind of “debate” is unproductive and definitely unscientific.
Peter Philips, Seattle
Straining at a pat answer
I’m sick of hearing creationists try to discredit a facet of science because “it’s just a theory,” passing it off as if it’s just something a bunch of heretic nutters pulled from where-the-sun-doesn’t-shine after a long, hard night of drinking.
The word “theory” is not used or taken lightly; a theory is repeatedly tested and supported by facts and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena. It is far more reliable than a statement that practically translates into, “This looks far too complicated and detailed to be explained by our limited knowledge and current capabilities, therefore we can safely assume that it was created.”
It is scary to imagine how far behind we would be from present day if many of history’s great scientists had thrown their hands in the air to that assumption, but even scarier to think what may happen to us if we start to accept it.
Emily Johnson, Kent
Santa Claus may not be coming
With Christmas soon to be here, what kind of welcome will Father Christmas, Santa Claus and Papa Noel receive from the American government? Last year in Australia, he had a hard time due to the border protection which aims to keep illegal immigrants out.
Will Homeland Security try to stop him from landing and giving joy and happiness to many, both adults and children alike? I know that, to enter the U.S.A. as a tourist, you need to be fingerprinted. Has your government taken this into consideration? If Santa enters illegally, will he be arrested as a terrorist and sent to Guantánamo Bay?
Hopefully, your government will see reason and let him enter. Imagine parents telling their children, “I’m sorry, the president has had Santa arrested and he is in Cuba under interrogation.”
Seasons greetings to all. Here in Australia, we are lucky, as he visits us first.
Robert Pallister, Punchbowl, Australia
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