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A Voice of Reason
Re "Jon Huntsman's Big Idea" [Dec. 5]: As a bleeding-heart liberal, I rarely vote Republican, but we are at the point where we need to look past special interests whether corporate lobbyists, union leaders, gay-rights supporters or Tea Partyers and do what is best for America. Jon Huntsman seems to be that kind of leader, and I would be hard-pressed to choose between him and President Obama in 2012. I hope the media start paying more attention to him.
Nicholas G. Schmutte, AVON, IND., U.S
The Not-So-Good Old Days
I found Bill Powell's "Aching for the '80s" to be an informative article with pros and cons presented fairly [Dec. 5]. Evoking the memories of consumers is a great business strategy in China nowadays; I would certainly purchase a shirt that reminds me of the fun times I had in school. On the other hand, as my parents can attest, nostalgia evokes for the older generation only memories of a tough childhood in the midst of the Cultural Revolution.
Yinyang Fang, SINGAPORE
Jeffrey Kluger's article on the journey of Voyagers 1 and 2 was fascinating but felt incomplete [Infinity and Beyond, Dec. 5]. He should have concluded it with the probable final destination of the spacecraft. After their journey, provided they are not hit by comets or meteors or swallowed by the gravity of a star, the spacecraft could land on an inhabited planet with a civilization that could read and interpret their golden records. And what will earth be by then?
Arun Bewoor, MUMBAI
I was 15 when the rocket with the golden greetings from earth was fired into infinity. Grounded by the gravity of this world, I felt liberated by the little spacecraft that could. Quietly, unhurriedly and productive beyond our wildest imaginations, they speak of thoughtful planning. Now the Voyagers will exit the pull of the sun and embark on a new journey. This may be Jimmy Carter's most enduring legacy, and we should thank the American people for their foresight in representing all of mankind despite the tumultuous difficulties of that time.
Vishnu Naidu, MEREBANK, SOUTH AFRICA
Re "The 50 Best Inventions" [Nov. 28]: Clothes made from milk are "green fashion that's gentle on the environment"? It seems you have no idea of the environmental impact of dairy farming!
Tracy Phua, DINSDALE, NEW ZEALAND
I disagree with Michael Schuman on one point of his clear analysis of the desperate economic and political situation we are currently facing in Italy [New Faces, Old Problems, Nov. 28]. Mario Monti is not the unelected new Italian Prime Minister, but the new one, legitimately nominated by our President of the Republic. In Italy, we elect our representatives in the Parliament. On the basis of the majority resulting from the elections, the President of the Republic nominates the Prime Minister, who then chooses the ministers of the government. If the government falls, as it happened to Silvio Berlusconi's, the President of the Republic may nominate a new Prime Minister, after verifying that he or she can be supported by the majority of the Parliament still in charge. That's exactly what happened recently in our country. Thus, Monti's new government does not represent a "suspension of democracy" (as stated by our ex-Minister of Defense, quoted in Schuman's article), but rather the highest expression of our democracy. The real suspension of Italian democracy has been the 20 years we lived under the amazing conflicts of interest represented by Berlusconi. I hope this has now ended.
Yuri Bozzi, TRENTO, ITALY
I marvel at the hypocrisy of the E.U., which finances and canvasses democracy in Africa and the developing world, but finds it difficult to uphold its tenets within its own borders. The ultimate solution to the economic woes of the E.U. lies in the legitimacy and proactivity of governments.
Omotoso Darlington, ABUJA, NIGERIA
I was disappointed in the simplistic way Fareed Zakaria portrayed U.S. public schools [Why Can't the U.S. Learn? Nov. 14]. Comparing the U.S. with South Korea and Finland, which have such different student populations from ours, is like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, we need higher salaries to attract quality teachers. But the biggest predictor of test scores is socioeconomic status. Public schools are a microcosm of society; as poverty increases, schools are forced to provide expensive academic intervention. We have to fix our whole system, not point fingers at hardworking educators and students.
Angie Nelson, AUSTIN
Zakaria is right that the way to improve education is to hire the best teachers and motivate students to work harder. However, he does not focus at all on how to do that or why the best and brightest no longer go into education. Teaching has lost its prestige in this nation, and teachers are perennial scapegoats, the focus of both media criticism and funding cuts. I am a high school Spanish and French teacher in a district where modest measures to maintain current funding at both the state and local levels were voted down recently by landslides. National funding cuts continue to loom on the horizon. Why would any top university graduate go into education?
John Park, LOVELAND, COLO., U.S.