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Uncle Sam: 230 And Broke


The manner in which well-educated citizens, many of them MBAs, are handling their personal finances does not say much for their education ("Thirty & Broke," Special Report, Nov. 14). These loans are less than their annual incomes and could be paid off in a few years of belt-tightening. Matters are not very different in the U.S. government ("Spending is out of control," Outside Shot, Nov. 14). The author quotes George Washington. How will posterity bear the burden of a huge federal budget deficit when it is struggling with personal debt? And what will happen when the Thirty & Broke generation is running the finances of the U.S. government?

Neeraj Matiyani

Bangalore, India

David Walker's suggestion that spending is out of control needs to be followed up. Unfortunately the present system of accrual accounting and budgeting reports only the accumulation of past practices using rubbery concepts of deficits. A statement of generational equity, together with a fair value system, should be implemented for reporting and budgeting.

Only this way will the cost of financial guarantees and other implicit and hidden government debts be revealed, thereby enabling democratic governments to fulfill their generational visibility to current and future taxpayers. Such developments can only improve the governance and transparency of governments to their citizenry, and uphold Washington's timeless wisdom of each generation paying its way.

Paul Klumpes

Imperial College

London

In drawing a parallel between the U.S. and ancient Rome, why does David M. Walker avoid real controversy? Is it interesting to cite declining moral values as a contributory factor to Rome's demise and omit the observation that Rome was basically a Christian theocracy at the time of its fall? Rome was also a slave culture. Finally, he omits very intriguing skeletal evidence of widespread lead poisoning among the economic and political elite.

I might agree with the idea that being in debt with foreign nations has consequences or that military overextension is a contributory factor in the lessening of a state's power, but why weaken that argument with an analogy to a failed state with a number of pernicious problems that we don't fully understand? Mr. Walker should stick to the facts. At least they're interesting.

Ken Richardson

Erie, Colo.

The credit for leading automotive safety technology needs to be spread around to include the Americans and Europeans and the major suppliers -- BERU, Robert Bosch, Continental Teves, Dana, Delphi, Hella, Michelin, Goodyear, TRW, and many others ("Cars that brake when you don't," Asian Business, Nov. 14). Behind those system developers and suppliers are the state-of-the-art component developers/manufacturers that make the key components, such as chips and micro-controllers for managing safety functions in new systems, many of which are designed and produced in the U.S.

Heat-sensitive night vision systems supplied by Delphi have been produced for some years. Now, Mercedes boasts a first with optional Night View Assist -- an infrared imaging system with infrared headlamps. They claim the system is clearer and superior. Active Radar Braking is in production, a system using two forward-facing radars that can apply the brakes at any speed up to about 125 mph. There are many new other safety systems that have been developed by the major players in the automotive systems industry in the U.S. and Europe -- as well as Japan.

Gary Vesey

Hilton Head Island, S.C.

"Invasion of the stock hackers" (News: The United States, Nov. 14) clearly highlights the danger created by many U.S. online banking and trading companies, where ease of use supersedes the security necessity. Living in the Netherlands, I often gripe about the tedious security protocol necessary for my local Internet banking and trading accounts. Requirements such as the use of a unique bank pass in combination with a random PIN generator for online banking or the ability to transfer funds out of a trading account only to the account of the money origination no longer seem to be tedious and overdone. No system is fail-safe. Nevertheless, kudos to the Dutch system, where security protocols are not taken for granted and the skills and tenacity of the crooks are not underestimated.

Walter Sun

Den Bosch, The Netherlands


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