New World Disorder
Rana Foroohar's analysis of what ails Europe contains some interesting observations ["The End of Europe," Aug. 22]. But early on in the article, she reveals that she suffers from the very delusion that underpins all the economic problems faced by Europe and the U.S. She writes that "Britain, like the U.S., has been a center of ... great wealth creation." The correct statement would be "Britain, like the U.S. and the rest of Europe, has been a center of great debt creation, leading to the illusion of wealth." That illusion is now unraveling, despite desperate efforts of governments in the U.S. and Europe to keep the party going.
Publishing the burning scarlet image of a young man presumably destroying his world wasn't just reporting the news but adding to it in a sensationalistic way. You may have sold copies, but are you selling out a higher good?
Katy, Texas, U.S.
Your article mistakenly implies that the current "crisis of the old order" is forever going to penalize the American citizen and businessperson with reduced expectations and a lower quality of life. For one thing, the worldwide recession isn't going to last forever. Second, when Americans wake up to the fact that an increase in taxes, along with reasonable spending cuts, is imperative and would again put the nation's fiscal house back in order, we'll be back on the path to prosperity. With the exception of goofballs in Washington and the conservative right, everyone knows having the lowest taxes in 60 years is unsustainable and a foolish fiscal strategy. Supply-side economics, which primarily benefits the wealthy, isn't working. There's nothing wrong with America that Obama's and the Democrats' balanced approach to fiscal stability wouldn't cure.
South Bend, Ind., U.S.
The euro zone's current and future crises are inevitable consequences of globalization. What is now being tested is the solidarity among member states: How far will the better-run countries be willing to go to help their weaker brethren nations? Let's hope that selfishness does not get the upper hand.
To speak of current global challenges as if they meant the end of Western ideology ignores the many lessons taught us by the Greatest Generation. Our shifting economies are more likely birth pains of a new day. We should view and report the future through the distant past, which tells us we are a spoiled generation that needs to appreciate that things have been far worse and learn, as did our forebears, to work for solutions rather than pour gasoline on the burning embers.
The Rev. Russell J. Levenson Jr.,
If this marks the decline of Europe, then what were both World Wars, the economic crises of the 1920s and '30s, the Black Death and the Holocaust? Europe will, as always, take this in stride.
Foroohar's argument linking the riots and economic austerity is severely undermined by Britain's relatively strong position with regard to tackling its budget deficit and, more important, by completely ignoring the real cause of the disorder: a culture of disrespect through a severe social breakdown, not economics.
Trouble on the Street
Re "London's Long Burn" [Aug. 22]: How refreshing to see a respected publication acknowledge the lack of social mobility within the ostensible British meritocracy. Until our government is prepared to acknowledge the deep class resentment effervescing under the thin veneer of social equality, this will only be the first of many riots in the U.K.
To those who argue the case of this "lost generation," I would ask that they look at the light laws that exist in the U.K. Lawmakers need to raise standards of policing and create laws that hold criminals to account. Anything less will only give lawbreakers the courage to continue with impunity and the damage will be lasting.
World's Most Annoying Animal: Man
Andrew Marshall's article states exactly what I have been thinking since I first saw Steve Irwin's show many years before his death ["Tie Me Animals Down, Sport," Aug. 22]. I felt sorry for the countless snakes that got their tails pulled by the presenter. Now it seems most hosts are doing that. I miss the days when nature shows were about the animals and how they live in the wild, not how they react when harassed.
This is one of the most sensible, nonsentimental, intelligent articles I have read recently in defense of animals and condemnation of the treatment humans impose on them. Marshall is to be congratulated for his courage in writing this article and for highlighting what we almighty humans feel free to do to the animals on this planet.
Maria Teresa Gil del Real,
Finally, a criticism of the often misleading approach to nature on television. These shows portray lions, snakes, crocodiles and sharks as top predators but miss the boat. The real top predator is man. What they should be showing us is how we can protect our ecosystem.
Terry G. Lacy,
Marshall's article is on point in showing the rogue manner in which nature is being presented to us. If there isn't a more rational way to bring nature to our screens, then I'll stick to reading about it, as that doesn't seem to hurt anyone or anything.
Regarding Marshall's obnoxious piece: Irwin was a dedicated conservationist who sought to educate people around the world about wildlife in an exciting and innovative way. The man was a passionate advocate for endangered species and literally donated millions of dollars to wilderness-protection funds. To suggest that Irwin's work taught children to "fear and subjugate creatures" is an insult to an Australian national treasure.
The Not-So-Radical Left
Fareed Zakaria's "The Pragmatic President" is very disappointing [Aug. 22]. He claims that liberal criticism of Obama is based on "fantasy." That's insulting. Obama's preaching against the Bush tax cuts and then twice caving in that's not fantasy. Zakaria calls for a robust national banking system. Wall Street's wild speculation and predatory lending represent the opposite of that. And as a Democratic precinct leader, I can tell you Obama's letting the issues be defined by the GOP for three years has crippled us. He has failed to encapsulate his values in inspiring, memorable terms. He might start with Main Street and the common good. But Obama's advisers, with their devotion to the centrist myth, need to ask themselves, Will the volunteers of 2008 turn out in 2012?
Knoxville, Tenn., U.S.
I enjoy Zakaria's articles, but this time he got it wrong. The President needs to send the message to the right that we will not compromise with budget terrorists. To threaten to refuse to pay a rightful debt is not gamesmanship; it is blackmail.
Gerald A. Cerveny Sr.,
Reading Zakaria's article, I couldn't help but wonder why U.S. politicians on the right and left have been so unwilling to compromise. It's time they clean up the mess they've made and start working with their pragmatic leader, who is very able, willing and ready to lead. Otherwise, they will be remembered as those who failed America.
The Pain Remains the Same
I am a Vietnam veteran who will never forgive or forget the damage Jane Fonda has done [10 Questions, Aug. 22]. Why the U.S. holds her in such esteem will forever be a mystery to all veterans.
Jackson, N.J., U.S.
Joel Stein's "Baby on Board" was excellent [Aug. 22]. Just the fact that he as a parent recognizes that his offspring might be less than pleasurable to other air travelers, and almost sounds apologetic, is enough to help me endure the next time a child kicks my seat from behind as I lift a cup of semihot airplane coffee to my lips.
A Party to the Problem
Rana Foroohar's "Struck in the Middle" made many fine points [Aug. 15]. But she failed to mention that the current fiscal crisis began with the housing meltdown. And that was caused primarily by banks' making silly loans to people who could not afford them. Why did banks do this? Because Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Barney Frank and Maxine Waters repeatedly urged them to help the poor get a house to own. Sometimes well-intentioned politicians do absurd things, and in this case the consequences were catastrophic for our entire nation.
Frank J. Russo,
Port Washington, N.Y., U.S.