Published: October 26, 2009

By Jim Lichtman
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I wish that Letters to the Editor carried a more prominent position in newspapers.

Why, for the simple reason that there’s a lot of good, old-fashioned common sense coming from people across the country.

Example:  While politicians and pundits have been batting the ball back and forth regarding Wall Street’s massive bonuses, they ignore similar issues in other sectors, as well.

Regarding a Washington Post front-page story, Top Aides to Obama Upbraid Wall Street (Oct. 19), Ken Schwartz of Maryland writes, “I believe that the Obama administration’s concerns are on target. But the administration should also look at itself.

“Last month, the Office of Personnel Management released information on fiscal 2008 performance, salaries and awards for senior executive service (SES) personnel in the federal government. That information shows that 76 percent of SES personnel received awards. Major federal agencies that provided bonuses to more than 90 percent of their SES staff were: the Department of Housing and Urban Development (99 percent), the Office of Personnel Management (98 percent),General Services Administration (94 percent), and the departments of Defense (93 percent), Labor (92 percent) andAgriculture (90 percent)…

“When almost all staffers receive awards, the bonus-award process is diminished, and the system lacks meaning. I am especially concerned that the agency that is responsible for monitoring the process, OPM, seems to be among the primary offenders.”

And Mr. Schwartz is not without his own experience in this arena as, “…deputy associate director at the Office of Management and Budget from 1986 to 2005.”

From a New York Times story, Havel, Still all Morals and Mischief (Oct. 14) concerning President Obama postponing a meeting with Tibet’s Dalai Lama until after Mr. Obama’s first, official visit to China in November, David Fernández-Barrial from Takoma Park, Maryland wrote, “Former Czech President Vaclav Havel is right to question President Barack Obama’s refusal to meet with the Dalai Lama.

“The Tibetan leader is nothing less than a modern-day Gandhi, a constant, necessary, moral thorn in the side of China. To take its place among nations, China must confront its own recent past and acknowledge the real crimes committed against Tibetans, other so-called ‘nationalities’ and its own dissidents.

“The American president would do well to heed Mr. Havel’s warning that coddling of rights-abusing nations is a ‘road to hell.’

“There is still plenty of time before Mr. Obama makes his first official visit to China in November, and still plenty of hope left in the new Nobel laureate’s young administration to make the necessary changes and recognize in real deeds the primacy of human rights in international affairs.”

And finally, again from the Times, this letter to the Sports Editor regarding a possible Yankees-Dodgers World Series (Oct. 12) John Neely from Minneapolis writes, “William C. Rhoden suggests that a Dodgers-Yankees World Series would ‘recover a portion of the trust, if not the innocence, that it has lost in the steroid era.’

“The two most steroid-stained names still playing the game,” Neely points out, “Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriquez are the stars and faces of those teams.  What baseball needs is a clean break and true accountability. Release the names of the players who tested positive in the survey drug testing in 2003, mark the tainted records with permanent asterisks and begin a substantive antidoping policy with transparent controls and meaningful penalties.”

To get enlightened, read the Letters. To get involved, write one.


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