There's Nothing Wrong with WonksAll over the country...


August 29, 1992

There's Nothing Wrong with Wonks

All over the country, including in The Sun, people are decrying the falling quality of our students, and calling for higher standards and better schools. For this reason, "The Wonk Factor" article (Today section, Aug. 13) is a disgrace.

By the tone of the article and perpetuation of the insulting term, you criticize candidates Bill Clinton and Albert Gore, among others, for (you claim) having a "preference for arcane policy details over back-slapping and baby-kissing."

You bemoan what (you claim) is their inclination to "scrounge around in universities -- havens for wonks" for cabinet officials. Heaven forbid!

All politics aside, The Sun should not be contributing to the anti-intellectual tide in this country.

Jeffrey Adams


What's funny about people that read and think being chosen to make federal policy?

"The Wonk Factor," a "humorous" piece in the Today section, concludes with the prediction that Messrs. Clinton and Gore may turn to universities more than to private companies in order to fill cabinet positions, thereby initiating a "Wonk Decade."

Such a selection process would probably be a good thing,

though, because a private company's interests might tend to be narrowed to that company's business concerns and business experiences.

To me, it is laughable to believe that persons with limited experiences can wisely and fairly govern a country as large, and as diverse and complex, as the United States.

And what could possibly be funny about people who read about pollution or resource conservation? (George Bush is not a Wonk because he fishes rather than "ponders fisheries policy.")

Who among us ever chuckles over the condition of the environment? (I doubt many ever laugh over Ellen Goodman and Meg Greenfield's columns, either.)

I would appreciate it if someone could explain to me what kind of humor was meant to be found in the article. I could not laugh with it and, fearing some readers might miss its transparent attempt to play upon the public's newfound skepticism of government leaders, could barely laugh at it.

Beth Williams

Onancock, Va.

Post-born and Pre-born

In her letter in The Sun of Aug. 16, Cynthia Price says, "As a nurse, I am well aware that science has acknowledged the pre-born as human," and later says, "I think it is absurd that pro-choice people do not recognize the pre-born's humanness."

I didn't think we needed science to tell us that when a human female is pregnant, she is carrying a human zygote, embryo or fetus. We all know that human gametes cannot turn into rabbits or snakes. And when human females give birth, they give birth to human babies. . . .

While there are many people who agree with Ms. Price that the fetus (as well as the zygote and the embryo) is a person with the right to life, it would be impossible to find consensus in science on that point.

But science is not the proper place to look for answers to such moral questions as the right to life, in both religion and philosophy. When one does look, consensus is found in neither place.

In a current college textbook on ethics, which I have at hand, there are writings by six philosophers on the subject of abortion. These philosophers are about evenly divided between pro- and anti-abortion positions. . . .

I am a member of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, which is an organization of Jewish, Protestant and other religious faiths that represent a wide range of beliefs on the issue of abortion. Because there are differing religious beliefs about personhood, we believe that the principle of religious freedom demands that the question of abortion should be decided by the woman with the help of her medical and her religious advisers.

I myself am an Anglican-Catholic who would like to see more concern in America and around the world for the rights of both pre-born and post-born children. For instance: There are 100 million street children in the world. What are their rights and who is protecting them? Many thousands of children die because of poverty and famine. What are their rights? Thousands of crack babies are in hospitals in the United States because there is no other place for them to go. Twenty-nine percent of American children have no health insurance; 20 percent live in poverty. What are their rights? Thousands go to poor schools where there isn't even enough money for textbooks. What are their rights? Innocent children are being shot in drug wars. What are their rights and who is protecting them?

Ms. Price ends her letter with: ". . . It gets down to whether we are going to protect the pre-born. If we leave it as a private matter, then we are not [protecting them] . . . . Without laws, anything goes." Aren't those statements terribly insulting to women? To me, Ms. Price seems to imply that women must be forced to have children. I disagree.

I was pregnant three times and have three children. No one forced me to carry those pregnancies to term.

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