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Letters to the Editor 5/17

May 17, 2000

Performance, not drug tests should drive employment

To the editor:

What I find telling about your story "Committee suggests employee drug tests" (April 19), is that these federal, state, and local agents who rely on the drug war for their livelihoods advocate workplace drug testing because they have no other way to discern users from non-users in everyday life.

Most drug users do so responsibly and without any sign of being abnormal from the rest of society. And of course the representative of the drug testing firm was present at this "turn-up-the-volume-of-the-hysteria" meeting for no other reason than economic gain too.

Finding out who these drug users are will only serve to identify targets for the drug warriors and thus solidify justification for their own prohibition-supported employment. Participants in this debate should stop and consider whether the "blight of illegal drugs" is a cause of drug use or of the black market created and supported by prohibition policy. Certainly the quickest and surest way to eliminate the black market is to decriminalize and regulate the commodity.

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People who have been in my employ have always been judged solely on job performance, and I could care less if they go home after work and smoke a joint. I dismiss those who do not perform as expected on the job, regardless of the cause. Performance and ability is the true test of employability, not content within bodily fluids.

The most disturbing part of this is that I see so many people pound a fist on the table saying "We can't allow this boy Elian to be returned to a totalitarian society," yet the other fist hits the table with the demand that we take up totalitarian practices advocated by those who wish to blind us - through hysteria and myth - to the libertarian principles that guided our founding, for the sole purpose of their own economic gain.

R.L. Root

Westminster, Calif.

Christianity has driven education

To the editor:

Two major events transformed the educational institution of the West - one was the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in 1455, and the Protestant Reformation in 1517. The printing press undermined the monopoly on learning exercised by the medieval monastery.

Then, the Bible was translated from Latin to German, thereby making written language accessible to German speaking people. The same was done in England, with the King James Bible.

From history you will find that it was the Christians who laid the foundation for universal learning. Because their faith was rooted in direct encounters with God's word, reading became a requirement. On arriving in America, Christians set up our form of government and our educational institutions. They established the first three major universities, Yale, Harvard and Princeton.

Why did federal, state and local governments in different capacities, get involved with education? Is it because they believe that the modern state requires universal, compulsory state-financed education?

Since education has been securely tied to the power of the state, new issues have arisen. Why does the student no longer know in which century, much less in which year, the printing press was invented or the Reformation began? How can government-sponsored education be reconciled with liberty and diversity? Do governments have the zeal and the conviction that effective schools require? Or do state-controlled educational systems inevitably become ossified and corrupt?

George Washington said, "In proportion as the structure of government gives force to the public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should enlighten." In other words, "public education" meant the education or formation of a public capable of governing itself. The founders of America's public schools insisted on the highest possible degree of local control over public schools.

John W. Cohen

Hagerstown

Raid was just like Waco

To the editor:

The news reports of federal marshals assaulting the home of the little Cuban refugee orphan, taking him into custody at gunpoint, is a chilling reflection upon the role and attitude of our federal government. It evokes haunting memories of similar actions in Waco, Texas.

Larry D. Kump

Falling Waters, W.Va.

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