Editor: The sad and tragic news concerning handguns seems to get worse. The killing goes on at an alarming pace, particularly compared to other societies in our world.
For example: Seven murders were committed in Great Britain in 1988 compared to 8,915 murders handgun murders in the United States during the same period. There seems to be very little change as times goes on. Our federal government must take hold and stop this frightening carnage.
Editor: The frustration of the American left has never been more evident than in Ray Jenkins' column Jan. 5. Mr. Jenkins has apparently had it up to his ears with the recent comparisons between communism and capitalism -- especially between the two Germanys. To retaliate, he wildly lashes out with some comparisons of his own.
His first unfortunate choice to demonstrate the effect of communism versus capitalism is India versus China -- two countries that are quite different in many ways. In fact, their types of government (which is the variable of interest) are not all that different since both are socialist -- the main difference, of course, being that one is democratic and the other is totalitarian.
His other comparison is between North Korea and Thailand, a country located in a cold climate versus one in the tropics and over 2,000 miles away. According to Mr. Jenkins the Communist countries come out ahead in both cases.
Space doesn't permit me to go further into the many differences between these countries; but the point is that when comparing the effect (call it the quality of life) of a variable (type of government), it is important to eliminate as many other extraneous variables as possible. Otherwise, one cannot determine which variable(s) influenced the effect.
The real irony, which no doubt is a result of Mr. Jenkin's frustration, is that in two cases (China and North Korea) he had the opportunity to make more valid comparisons without most of the extraneous other variables being present.
The obvious comparison, of course, would have been between Communist China and Nationalist China and between North and South Korea.
How in the world did Mr. Jenkins miss these obvious choices? Could it be because these logical comparisons would have tended to refute his point and consequently increase his frustration?
ames R. Kniss.
Editor: Jonathan Powers exhibits his own rather striking intellectual shortcomings in his facile analysis of the Third World debt crisis (''Write Down the Debt,'' Dec. 21). For him, the Western world's position is nothing more than ''stupidity. . . short sightedness. . . [and] ideological rigidity.'' With a little forgiveness, he asserts, the debt crisis could be resolved within a year.
Balderdash! If all $1.1 trillion in developing country debt were to be forgiven tomorrow, new borrowing would commence the following day. Virtually nothing would change in the majority of debtor states, leaving inefficient and corrupt economic structures and rules that helped generate these enormous debts in the first place.
Pardon me if I don't shed crocodile tears for the tiny, thoroughly corrupt, upper-class elites who continue to ruin their societies and plunder their own economies. If Mr. Powers knew what he talking about, he might have advised his readers that the native wealthy of the Third World have sums that probably approximate their countries' foreign debt.
Editor: Time's recent selection of President George Bush as Man of the Year reflected some imagination, but not much. A far better choice, unless Time's criteria limits the honor to only the living, would have been billionaire real estate tycoon Harry Weinberg of Baltimore, who died early in November.
Weinberg left the bulk of his fortune to a charitable foundation which he established to assist the poor and improve the lives of people who are, for compelling reasons, unable to help themselves. The gifts of the Weinberg Foundation ''are limited to the poor and organizations that serve them, but not restricted to Baltimore, Maryland, or the United States.''
Weinberg was not given to posturing about his status and economic power and never was known to make flip remarks about gravely serious matters that affected lives he felt a profound responsibility toward bettering.
In a time when much of our society seems adrift and devoid of humane and civilized values, Mr. Weinberg symbolized the best features of the traditional Gospel of Wealth philosophy associated with Andrew Carnegie. Unlike Carnegie, however, his compassion originated in true concern for the less fortunate and was not done merely to salve his conscience about the business methods by which he amassed great wealth.
The fruits of Harry Weinberg's life will have a significant impact on thousands of people for many years to come.
Sanctity of Life