I think that Americans should not feel that high-tech privacy-invasive technology will prevent future September 11 events ("Privacy in an age of terror," Special Report, Nov. 5). The fact that high tech did not work on September 11 is evidence enough that it is not a panacea. Only a combination of hard work and available tools will thwart criminal activities.
People should be more concerned about how the invasion of privacy will prevent citizens from doing their daily chores. Of course, critics would say that law-abiding citizens have nothing to worry about from privacy-invasive technologies and laws. I say to them: Would they leave their doors and windows open? High tech does not come cheap, but we will pay dearly with our liberty and freedom if we are allowed to be under surveillance all the time and at the mercy of hostile authorities.
Talat M. Basharat
Certainly, there is some (qualified) public support for programs that protect citizens from terrorist attacks, and some of those programs will allow government agencies greater access to citizens' data. However, private industries are also interested in our data--to cross-market their products, set insurance rates, deny medical coverage, and set customer service levels.
BusinessWeek deserves credit for trying to help readers make sense of a complex set of issues--issues that certainly deserve more public discussion and attention in the media than they are getting.
For years, U.S. legislative and regulatory focus has been on protecting individual privacy. However, the war on terrorism will not be won quickly, and acts of terror, like crime, may never be permanently eradicated. It will be difficult to reestablish the primacy of privacy over security. The bottom line is that greater security will permanently trump expanded privacy protection.
Chevy Chase, Md. In a study for Oxfam America, Michael Ross concluded that "Minerals alone can't cut it" (Economic Trends, Nov. 5). It is intriguing that even food-exporting countries can suffer from malnutrition and bad health conditions, including high child mortality. While oil and mineral exports would not understandably help, it is not diversification of exports as Ross's study suggests, or trade in simple terms, but investment in human capital that matters. Not to refer to investment in human capital, including specifically in education and health, makes the study less significant.
Jandhyala B.G. Tilak
National Institute of Educational
Planning and Administration
The Ross study's effort to link a lack of human development to countries' overreliance on commodity exports overlooks the more important relationship between freedom (both political and economic) and human development. An analysis of these same countries that incorporates freedom reveals that the nations that are both politically and economically free fare best in terms of human development. Those that lack both kinds of freedom do worst. Economic diversity is not the most effective solution for overcoming poor countries' challenges. Rather, a combination of political and economic freedom offers them their best chance for improving their human development situation.
Donald J. Sutherland
Institute for SocioEconomic Studies
White Plains, N.Y. I am amazed at the incessant need to grow bigger to survive, a doctrine preached by "market experts" ("BMW: Speeding into a tight turn," European Business, Oct. 29). General Motors Corp., the biggest of all auto makers, has been struggling for decades. Two decades ago, its Opel subsidiary in Europe was a bright spot. Now, even Opel is suffering.
Size does not bring success, nor is it even a requirement to succeed. At some stage or other, collapse or merger has been predicted for Renault, Porsche, and BMW. But they remain among the strongest. Why? Because they deliver the products that consumers want. I would even argue they will succeed because they are small: They have to be efficient and smart.
Zurich Rather than continuing to issue "aid" checks to countries such as Egypt, Israel, and Pakistan (among others) in hopes that they will protect U.S. interests, we should have them put their money where their mouth is as shareholders in a federal entity set up to provide terrorism reinsurance to U.S. insurers ("Give insurers a break--but not a free ride," American News, Oct. 29). The federal government would hold the only voting share--thereby controlling receipts and disbursements--while the other (nonvoting) shareholders would receive quarterly dividends based on the market-based success of this terrorism reinsurer. As a result, these shareholders would have an interest in preventing terrorism in the U.S.