Thank you for your considered piece on Gordon Brown [April 28], a welcome change from the personal attacks orchestrated against him in the British press. I have never voted Labour in a national election, but I think I might next time around, and that's down to Brown and his commitment to do the right thing rather than to expend energy on figuring out how to do the most popular thing.
Alison Twaddle, EAST LOTHIAN, SCOTLAND
Regarding Brown's remark that "I was trying to sell [Sen. John McCain] on the idea that America's gift to the world should be to offer every child the chance of an education," I was stunned to realize that Brown is referring here to every primary school child in the world! Whatever is he thinking? Both he and McCain must realize that many citizens of the U.S. are struggling to educate their own children in addition to feeding and clothing them, keeping their own jobs and homes, and paying skyrocketing prices for gasoline. If he is interested in an international agenda, let Brown concentrate instead on urging nations that have a wealthy ruling class but fail to provide for the less well-off among their populations to institute reform within their own political and economic systems. However, please don't expect U.S. citizens to foot the bill for worldwide primary school education as some form of reparations for what Brown considers our faulty world image. Would that this Scotsman were willing to be as frugal with our money as he evidently is with every other nation's.
Kathryn Bell, FRISCO, TEXAS, U.S.
Catherine Mayer's reference to Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations could usefully include Smith's cynical view of politicians: "that insidious and crafty animal vulgarly called a statesman or politician." Gordon Brown's many sobriquets "Iron Chancellor," "Clunking Fist," "Prudence Brown," "Ditherer" and "Mr. Bean" suggest why an authoritarian Chancellor makes a poor Prime Minister. Brown's obsession with minutiae is best demonstrated by his Byzantine tax-credit system where taxpayers are required to complete vexing forms to reclaim the tax that was due to them in the first place. What is frustrating is that he constantly reminds British voters that his policies are what they want (he may well be right), but perversely will not test that in an election.
Gerard Lobo, WOODLEY, ENGLAND
You wrote in your article about Brown: "The medicine he's proposing for the international community ... isn't simple to explain. Or sexy." But must it be sexy when an intelligent man with a vision is trying to help the world and will hopefully be able to work with the next President of the U.S. to begin to remedy the disasters of the past years with Bush? As an American living in Germany, I certainly hope not.
Chris Paterson, HETTSTADT, GERMANY
Your cover features a photograph of Brown and mentions that his "big ideas" do not "play better at home." Since he became Chancellor in 1997, he has had many ideas and made many pronouncements, a large percentage of which came to nothing or missed their target. Let us see how many of his ideas for the reform of the U.N., NATO, the IMF and the World Bank he personally drives forward into positive changes. Time will tell. In very many instances, the best that can be said of our Prime Minister is that there is a lot of talk and, by comparison, very little action.
Alan F. Smith, NORTH BERWICK, SCOTLAND
The View on Global Warming
It is encouraging that TIME is taking on the global climate crisis [April 28], but I am concerned that Bryan Walsh's solutions strangely resemble the war in Iraq: top-down policies and reliance on technology with little or no sacrifice required of U.S. citizens. If America is to lead this battle, much less win it, individuals and families will need to make radical changes in their lives, including conserving energy and water, reducing consumption, eating differently and traveling less. It is possible these changes could be made voluntarily, but an intensive national effort, like the one made during World War II, is probably required. For that we will need great moral and political leadership from above and great courage and commitment on the grass-roots level. I hope your magazine will continue to catalyze both.
Mary Earle Chase, NOVATO, CALIF., U.S.
Any discussion of greening the earth or our country is lacking if it does not include curbing population growth through avenues such as health-care services and, in the U.S., limits on immigration. If we reduce each person's carbon footprint by half and then double the population in 50 years, we are right back where we started.
Larry Sarner, MAUI, HAWAII
I was disappointed that you covered all the fringe power sources like wind, solar and wave action, which can meet only a small percentage of our needs. Making fuel from foodstuffs seems evil, considering the world's hunger crisis. The time has arrived to reconsider nuclear power. Please give us an unbiased study on the efforts of those nations that are producing electricity from nuclear energy. How safe are the plants? What are they doing with the waste? What is the carbon footprint?
Lyman Burgmeier, CYPRESS, CALIF., U.S.