Computers have become a teaching tool
In the Jan. 31 article, "Colleges cancel plan to queue up for buyout," I was incorrectly cited as raising the issue of computers given to members of the board of trustees. I addressed the larger issue of raising money to provide technology for instructional purposes.
As we have moved faster and faster into the information age, computer hardware and software have become basic teaching tools. There exists a critical need at Essex Community College for additional computer technology support personnel. Cutting the college's budget would be a short-sighted endeavor, destined to endanger the college's status as a first-rate community college.
The writer is a professor at Essex Community College.
GOP balancing act is laughable
Republicans sure have a funny way of balancing budgets. For example, a keystone of the House Republicans' budget balancing act is to cut the capital gains tax. Now along comes Steve Forbes with his 17 percent flat tax, which by the most conservative estimates will reduce revenue by about $200 billion a year.
Mr. Forbes is also a proponent of increasing the budget for the "Star Wars" missile defense program, one of the most insane schemes for spending money ever perpetrated on a gullible public. (If you want to learn how costly and insane, just read the book "Teller's War" by William Broad).
It is fair to ask how these politicians justify cutting taxes and spending money on unsound schemes while assuring us they really, truly, want to balance the budget. Didn't anyone ever tell them you don't balance a bank account by decreasing the credits and increasing the debits? Apparently not, and what's worse is they were taught just the opposite by Republican supply-siders like Jack Kemp, who convinced President Reagan that a tax cut and increased spending for the military would be just the thing for balancing the budget in the 1980s.
That experiment in "voodoo economics" ran up the national debt during the Reagan administration by $3 trillion, three times more than the previous 39 presidents of the United States had managed to do.
It is unfortunate that a major political party keeps offering up this supply-side nonsense just at a time when the country seems really ready to put its economics house in order. We deserve better leadership than this.
John D. Venables
Who says economy is in good shape?
Your Feb. 25 editorial endorsing Sen. Bob Dole in the Republican presidential primary contains the statement, "The economy is in pretty good shape."
Do you read your own business section? Look over last week's editions of The Sun and issue a correction.
Glenn E. Bushel
City gone wild needs Wyatt Earp
I am not an expert on crime. I am not an expert on guns. I'm not sure that I can bill myself as an expert on anything, but, speaking from a ground-roots gut knowledge, I can tell you that people are hurt or killed by guns every day.
There no longer seems to be honor among thieves, so it doesn't matter if you give them the money or not. They have no regard for life, theirs or anyone else, so they easily pull the trigger. They are often bad shots. Innocent bystanders, too often children, have fallen while simply waiting for a bus or sitting in a car.
I am not aware of any instances where carrying a weapon offered protection. There are no heroes out there, only intimidators. How can we protect ourselves from this? I applaud Police Commissioner Tom Frazier for offering a solution. Take the gun out of the shooter's hand before he has a chance to use it.
My husband and I have worked in an operating room for 20 years. We have worked feverishly to patch up the lives of members of the "Friday Night Knife and Gun Club," a term used as long ago as the 1970s, as well as the people who really were "just minding my own business."
It's starting to feel like the Wild West out here and I would welcome Wyatt Earp or any other gutsy law officer who will try to help us regain the right to walk down the street, unarmed, and less vulnerable.
Virginia M. Larsen
Pemba is poor, hard-working island
We were impressed and pleased to see the recent Sun Journal article on Pemba ("Sullen Pemba, unlucky paradise," Feb. 19).
Since 1994, we have been collaborating with the ministry of health of Zanzibar, the World Health Organization and U.S. Agency for International Development to develop and evaluate public health interventions on Pemba Island.
It has been our privilege to work with Pembians, and we hope to continue the collaboration for several more years.
Pemba truly is an "unlucky paradise," a gem of an island filled with exceptionally gracious and hard-working people, yet suffering from extreme poverty and hardship.
However, it is remarkably misleading to depict Pembians as mostly sleeping, eating mangoes and climbing trees. Perhaps if writer Scott Straus had gotten to know more Pembians than the man who takes travelers scuba-diving, he would have seen how hard they work to make a daily living and how eager they are to improve their lot, politically and economically.
The democratic election was felt by Pembians to be a great opportunity to make their voice heard.
But democracy, too, can be brutal when one holds a minority opinion. Pemba must now try to change its destiny with unsympathetic governments in both Zanzibar and Tanzania.
If this were not enough of a challenge, Pembians must continue the daily struggle to feed themselves. The population density on Pemba is close to the highest in the world and continues to grow rapidly.
According to a 1995 UNICEF report, practically one in five Zanzibari children under five years suffers from severe malnutrition, and the infant mortality rate is among the highest in the world.
Contrary to The Sun's report, these infants are not falling from trees. They die as most poor children throughout the world die -- from malaria and common diseases made deadly from underlying malnutrition.
We are glad if this article helped to put a human face to the process of democratization in Africa, and hope that The Sun will continue to educate its readers about this troubled continent.
The writers are with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.