Peeved, Not Panicked
Responding to "Is the Jobs Panic Justified?" (Cover package, Dec. 22) readers displayed more indignation than panic. Many said the answer to unemployment is for the U.S. to rely less on imports. A few favored public works for stimulating growth. And some of the comments posted were skeptical of the point made in "They Make Jobs, Not Widgets" that intangible industries such as health care and education would lead the way out of the recession.
For 20 to 30 years the idea of spending on local production was ridiculed as naive in a world economy. Perhaps a trade deficit of the magnitude we have is coming home to bite us.
Screen name: Dar
The illusion of prosperity [among U.S. consumers] was fostered by employers' desire to stifle wage growth while doing all they could to encourage the importation of cheap foreign-made goods.
The lowering of the cost of goods allowed U.S. consumers to feel richer because they could afford many luxuries formerly possessed only by the wealthy.
We balanced our consumer economy on the backs of underpaid Third World workers. In the process, we lost the foundation of our economic prosperity.
Screen name: Indrid
"They Make Jobs, Not Widgets" identifies two "winning" sectors [health care and education] that so far do not have to compete with the rest of the world, as many other industries do. Rather than talking about "tangibles" and "intangibles," I would choose much more prosaic terms: protected sectors vs. unprotected ones.
Screen name: Dominic
Our bloated health-care system is getting even more bloated, and that is a good thing? America spends twice as much as, say, France, and gets worse results.
Screen name: Bodz
Students, Not Lenders, Need Financial Aid
While it is understandable that student-loan companies are fighting for any assistance they can get, the fact that the U.S. Treasury Dept. has confused the health of companies providing high-risk, high-interest loans with the well-being of students is incomprehensible ("These Lenders May Not Be Missed," News, Dec. 22).
Rather than bailing out the providers of unregulated private student loans, which carry interest rates as high as 20%, the government should concentrate on providing more aid directly to students and colleges.
Pedro de la Torre III
How Tough Are Times in Greensboro?
Regarding "A City That Must Evolve—Again" (News, Dec. 22): Although everyone is reeling from the recession, Greensboro, N.C., has actually held up better than most cities.
To be sure, we have well-qualified professionals who find themselves unemployed as a result of current economic conditions.
What the story failed to recognize, however, is the robust job creation Greensboro has experienced recently. Between 2004 and 2008, local companies created 6,337 new jobs and invested $837 million in new buildings, machinery, and equipment. Is Greensboro recession-proof? Absolutely not. But it hasn't been more adversely affected than other areas of the country.
It's Tough to Shop for Surgery
The proposal, from Harvard Business School professor Regina Herzlinger, to let patients behave like customers and shop around contains a fatal flaw ("If Health Care Were Run Like Retail...," What's Next, Dec. 22). To determine value, the customer must be able to compare quality and prices.
Current quality measures in health care are crude, and except in cosmetic surgery, the price of services often isn't available.
C. D. Peterson