Change We Can't Believe!

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As a longtime libertarian, I very much enjoyed David Von Drehle's insightful and entertaining look at the movement [The Party Crashers, Nov. 8]. However, most libertarians I know consider themselves not right wing but members of a distinctive political movement that is neither right nor left. And libertarians are not "pro-marijuana." Although we strongly favor relegalizing marijuana (and other drugs), it's not because we endorse drug use. It's because we are pro-freedom.
James W. Harris, RYDAL, GA., U.S.

Throughout your issue, you refer to Rand Paul — a man who would shred social programs in favor of big-fish-eat-little-fish unfettered capitalism — as a "populist." Paul's politics are about as far from populism as one can possibly get.
Alexander Neilson, SEATTLE

What scares me most is that there is no discussion of the qualifications of these candidates with respect to education or problem solving. We choose leaders on the basis of slogans and attack ads — and hope they have the skills to manage the federal government, a multitrillion-dollar organization.
Lee Jaslow, SPRINGDALE, ARK., U.S.

The Tea Party's message is anger and fear, with little policy beyond cutting government spending and reducing taxes. How this will reduce unemployment is not explained. It is a platform probably scripted from the Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
James Moore, SYDNEY

These Tea Party folk have short memories. The recession and bailouts started under George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, as did the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama had to continue with big government spending to prevent the economy from imploding altogether. Now the Tea Party wants to "take their country back"? They have no idea what they're talking about. Ronald Reagan and Bush went into office with big promises of fiscal discipline, and proceeded to buy lots of toys in the shape of guns and planes. Obama is spending because he has to, not because he wants to.

To feature Meg Whitman, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Christine O'Donnell on your cover a few days before the critical midterm elections is reprehensible. Why not simply endorse them?
Thomas Hauck, GLOUCESTER, MASS., U.S.

Burma's Hope?
Burmese youth have been taught to obey the generals since childhood [Burma's New Breed, Nov. 8]. Few know anything about democracy or dare to counter the regime. How will they bring about change?
Titan Monn, BANGKOK

I.O.U., U.S.A.
In "Debt Doesn't Matter," Zachary Karabell misses the point [Nov. 8]. Voter anger is not about government spending. It is about the ineffectiveness of the spending. Almost $800 billion in stimulus money was spent creating public-sector jobs, as well as temporary construction jobs that will end and then require more unemployment wages. If the Administration proposes a new spending plan aimed at creating private-sector manufacturing and service-industry jobs, the Republicans and the voters will support it.
Hemant Shah, IRVINE, CALIF., U.S.

Karabell says that relatively speaking, the federal debt burden has not changed much in 20 years. The U.S. Treasury reported federal debt in the first quarter of 2010 at 89% of GDP, up from 51% in 1988. While the amount the government spends servicing that debt is low now, any spike in interest rates would change that in a fat hurry. And rates won't stay near zero for long.
John Knoerle, CHICAGO

Zachary Karabell thinks debt doesn't matter. Driving back America's debt, he reasons, would be more harmful than useful. I don't think so. The American model has been to accrue debt in order to stoke massive consumption. That approach made America the mightiest economy in the world and has been working for decades. Now a renunciation of consumption is necessary. The debt bubble the U.S. inflated is going to burst. America can still avoid the pain, but only if money is steered into the right channels: R&D and education.

Going Nuclear
Re "A Reactor Revival" [Nov. 8]: How does Joe Klein propose to get the huge amount of nuclear waste from these reactors to a "safe" repository so no one is harmed? The nuclear-waste transport and storage solutions of both Japan and France are spotty at best. Also, each reactor is a terrorist target. The reality of nuclear power is grim at best.
Pete Sipp, ASHEVILLE, N.C., U.S.

We are not any closer to energy independence than we ever were, and it's been too long. I live on the St. Lawrence River. With some careful planning, 10 reactors could be built along this river, and they would displace fewer than 2,500 people. It's time this country embraced nuclear power.
Dave Berger, ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y., U.S.

Is Klein serious? A thoroughly safe nuclear power plant may be clean, but nuclear waste is not. Despite years of searching, the German government has yet to find a suitable place to permanently store its nuclear waste. Early this month, when some of it was transported to Gorleben, tens of thousands of protesters followed the route, costing taxpayers millions. Where will the U.S. store its waste for the next 1,000 years? When one talks of nuclear energy becoming more cost-efficient, don't forget the expense of clearing away protesters.
Kathleen Weigand, LINDEN, GERMANY

Klein neglects to note that fissile material, like oil, is a limited natural resource that can only be found in certain regions. As such, the threat to national security remains the same. In the end, we will have to resort to renewable energy anyway. Every cent spent on nuclear power is a negligent waste of money.

Keep Dreaming
Each generation has seen an uprising of ordinary citizens to save the American Dream from forces that appear to be overwhelming [Restoring the American Dream, Nov. 1]. Challenges like these have been beaten before, but that is not possible this time. The world is becoming a level playing field. China and India have already added hundreds of millions of new skilled workers to the labor pool, and they are not demanding high wages; the U.S. government has no money to fund future growth; and the American political system is a shambles, with Republicans creating havoc. For the next generation of Americans, the American Dream can only be a dream.
Muthusamy Palanisamy, KOTA KINABALU, MALAYSIA