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Assessing democracy's successes and failures

July 09, 2006

Re "Fathers don't always know best," Opinion, July 4

Mark Kurlansky writes that our country is the "most backward democracy in the West" and that we offer the "worst benefits for workers"; perhaps he can enlighten us as to why freedom-loving people from around the world want to come to this country for a better life for themselves and their families.

We have immigration issues in the U.S. because we are the best. I will begin to worry about the United States when we no longer are a refuge for downtrodden masses.

LESTER WINTZ

Carlsbad, Calif.

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There are two good reasons why the U.S. government does not like "progressive" ideas. First, with few exceptions they are not new. Welfare states have been around for most of recorded history. Second, with few exceptions, they don't work.

Kurlansky mentions public education. The reason public education in this country is a failure is because education theory is dominated by progressive ideas such as nurturing selfesteem, new math, whole language learning and social promotion.

There are more examples of failures of progressive ideas and success of reactionary ideas than I have room for in this letter.

ROBERT VAN PEER

Chatsworth

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Praise to Kurlansky for stating the obvious truth. Kurlansky could have gone even further in his observations. Thanks to the framework of the legislative branch, our country is in the iron grip of congressional members who did not, in total, receive anywhere near the majority of votes.

Thanks to the Electoral College, George W. Bush was elected president in 2000 by a minority of voters. Our only remaining check on the power of the executive -- judicial review -- was not even expressly set forth in the Constitution.

The founding fathers got a lot right, but blind adherence to their words is simplistic and backward.

MICHAEL ARTAN

Los Angeles

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