The Freedom to Farm Act and subsidies have not kept food prices up as you claim ("Farm reform fumble," Dec. 11); it is the retailers and food processors. The bill was pursued by big agribusiness companies that wanted no restrictions on production so that the grain supply would increase to lower their input costs. The government would still protect the farmers with deficiency payments (not price supports) to keep the production coming even with low commodity prices. The result has been the 60 percent decrease in commodity prices and higher prices in the grocery stores, while food processors make huge profits. We are not balancing the farm economy on the backs of the poor, or at all, but we are supporting the profits of agribusiness on the backs of the taxpayers. - Marc Haring, Lexington, Ohio
There are dozens of current U.S. grain embargoes against foreign countries. Washington could change that, and open up these markets. Maybe the question you should ask is, "Is it fair for the Clinton administration to play political games on the backs of the family farms?" - Tony Lee, Oxford, Ind.
We as farmers would love to do away with government programs, but when are farmers in France going to have to farm without government aid? We compete not with the farmer in the next section, but with the farmer overseas for market share. - Beth Moser, Moscow, Kan.
I agree that Freedom to Farm was a fumble, only because it came packaged with NAFTA which has been a one-way street for American agriculture. As producers of pinto beans, we have seen "fees" (I consider them extortion) for selling bags of beans in Mexico triple, while the barriers are down coming our way. As a farm family (yes, our sole income is the farm) we have seen our monthly grocery bill to feed the same size family rise from $474 to $600 while commodity prices have plunged to all-time lows. Farmers here wear caps from a farm lender that reads, "I feed the world" and it might as well be added, "but I can't feed my family." Our national security is at great risk if America thinks it unimportant to be self-sufficient in the production of food. - Paula Johnson, Eaton, Colo.
True vs. tepid
J.B. Cheaney's "Tales of the heart" (Dec. 11) makes the important point that a conservatism that uses religion merely to support civil society is antithetical to biblical Christianity. As a recent alumnus, I can say that such religion is not the only type practiced at Hillsdale College. True Christianity is a vibrant force. The largest student organization is the school's InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter, and Christian faculty model lives of Christian scholarship. Such faith always shows how tepid civil religion truly is. - Jonathan Den Hartog, South Bend, Ind.
Out of control
I believe that, under disgraced president George Roche III's leadership, Hillsdale refused federal aid not so much to promote academic freedom but, as it turned out, to maintain total institutional control. The TV evangelist scandals of a decade ago should have reminded us that when you have one or a few persons with that kind of unchecked power, pretty soon they won't want to answer to anyone, even God. - Derrick A. Nowlin, Pittsburgh, Penn.
The truths in "Hypocrisy watch" (Dec. 11) leave me both disgusted and frustrated. Not only are "mainstream journalists" in total denial about the characters of their icons and heroes but also their bias. It frustrates me that there is a large segment of the population that still believes (or wants to believe) everything that is reported on the evening news. - Laura K. Thomas, Nashville, Tenn.
Not so bad
It's unfortunate that WORLD painted such a bleak picture of Poland ("Uncivil society," Dec. 11). I was an exchange student in Poland a few years ago and, while I can attest to Poland's lack of spiritual interest and moral failings, I never saw reason to believe that youth or adults were more "immoral" than in the United States. I can also attest to a brighter side of Poland. Even if it is mostly without the gospel, most people I met were gracious and kind. - Brent England, State College, Pa.
God and democracy
It takes a long time to establish a democratic society. Our own history reminds us that our leaders floundered through the Articles of Confederation, the Whiskey Rebellion, Shay's Rebellion, etc., before a sound government was established. It is in the will of a sovereign Lord when governments rise and fall, and He will help democracy be established in Poland and elsewhere. - J. Douglas Hallman, Stonington, Pa.
I didn't disagree with any of the proposals for improving education in "Beyond tidy kitchens" (Dec. 11), but a point left out was how to get parents involved. If a child doesn't have a parent constantly keeping track of progress, helping the child when needed, and also making sure the child does the work, no other solutions will improve education. - Jim Nelson, Carmel, Ind.
More to it
There's much more to The Straight Story than "quirky but wholesome" ("A look at the bright side," Dec. 11). The old man's ability to deal with the tough blows life dealt him and his determination to make things right with his brother give him a humility and tenderness that people along the road respond to. Like so much of life, the real story of The Straight Story isn't about what the man sets out to do, or what he does, but who he touches along the way. - Joan Thompson, Edgerton, Wis.
Sixpence more the vaguer
I enjoy WORLD, but I disagree with your views on the band Sixpence None the Richer. "Kiss Me" is harmless, but the rest of the album has a vague if not feminist bent. It does not surprise me that they have toured with Lilith Fair, but I am shocked that this is marketed in Christian bookstores and is said to be respected for its integrity. On the other hand, the alternative band Creed, although not "Christian" (or perfect), writes songs about the evils of abortion, materialism, affirmative action, and other things. They also suggest turning to Jesus for redemption. How ironic that they, rather than the Christians, have clearer biblical content in their overall message. - Beth Piwkowski, Parma, Ohio
Regarding "Bedtime reading" (Dec. 4), Lewis and Tolkien are interesting and exciting to little girls as well. I'm 16 years old, and from the time I was 5 or 6, my father read to me before bedtime. Beginning with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, we went through The Chronicles of Narnia and then began on The Lord of the Rings. Although I'm too big now to curl up on his lap in our brown recliner, he has continued the practice with my two younger sisters, both of whom look forward to the ritual as much as I did. - Amanda Hulce, Holland, Mich.
Your happy, aw-shucks article about Steve Forbes ("Blue blood, blue collar," Nov. 20) tells us he's a smart, regular guy and taking a stronger position on abortion. Eyebrow-pierced teenage moms and donut-scarfing farmers like him. But, does Mr. Forbes claim to be a believer, attend church, or read God's Word and diligently apply it through his political positions? He likes to hold babies, but does he have a family, abandoned back at the mansion while he's an exile in Iowa? Are there scandals in his past, questionable associations, or even disgruntled staffers to interview? Why not be as tough and thorough in your questions with him as you have been with Gary Bauer? - Jeanette Nagel, Fairfax, Va.
Clinton as Herod
While searching for the "King of the Jews," the wise men who brought gifts to Jesus consulted King Herod in Jerusalem. He immediately plotted a way to eliminate his potential rival and ultimately attempted to slaughter every male child younger than 24 months who lived near Bethlehem. It sounds rather like our own President Clinton who twice vetoed laws to ban partial-birth abortion, thereby protecting what is arguably infanticide. It is only incidental that this and other abortion procedures have spawned a new industry of traffic in fetal body parts ("The harvest of abortion," Oct. 23). His pro-choice backers have kept him in power and so history repeats itself as children are sacrificed on the altar of politics. - Stephen Bennett, Encinitas, Calif.