China's rising social tensions and other internal and external dilemmas are mainly caused by the one-party dictatorship ["Big Brotherhood," Oct. 22]. No matter who comes to power, the hope of China's changing is a mirage as long as the one-party dictatorship continues. I believe that it is not realistic to rely on the heir apparent, Xi Jinping, to change the situation in China, unless he is willing to repudiate one-party dictatorship and boldly mastermind and launch epochal political reforms in the People's Republic.
Pingzhen City, Taiwan
While there are many things we can criticize about China's Orwellian state, I believe it is good for the country to have such calm transitions of power. Jiang Zemin retired, and now Hu Jintao is also expected to. Many people in power cling to it because they fear that once they leave, they will be treated disgracefully. Leadership transitions like China's will show the world that it is safe to leave a top position.
Defining What's Right
Jonathan Haidt's analysis of fairness ["The New Culture War over Fairness," Oct. 22] is helpful and insightful, but it fails to reach the most important conclusion: fairness is a mirage. What might seem perfectly fair from one perspective always turns out to be unfair from a different one. We need to realize this, stop chasing the unattainable goal of universal fairness and allow capitalism to function, albeit with some degree of control of its excesses.
Thank you for an explicit piece pointing out the underlying issues regarding the U.S. presidential candidates' definitions of right and wrong. Those of us in Africa who have to contend with the worst kind of governance imaginable, abject poverty and inflammatory religion often find it difficult to appreciate the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Both sides deplore corruption, advocate education for men and women, believe in the same God and aim to work for the general good. I look forward to a time when we too will fight over the meaning of fairness as opposed to the need for it.
Life is fundamentally unfair, starting at birth. Then, based on the idea of "minimum wages for maximum profit," the capitalist system enables the wealthy to earn fortunes from the low-wage labor of those less fortunate. Mechanisms to restore a degree of equity in a fundamentally unfair system are therefore necessary, so people must pay taxes proportionate to how much they have benefited from the system, and a substantial part of that tax must be allocated to meet the basic needs of those who have been disadvantaged by it.
Your article on the drug trade in West Africa claims that cocaine is the source of corruption and instability in the region ["The Cocaine Crisis," Oct. 22]. However, the cause of corruption and instability is not cocaine. Rather, it is cocaine prohibition that forces the drug market to remain illegitimate. This illegitimacy, not the drug itself, causes the high risk and high profitability that fuels corruption, violence and instability. Cocaine is a product that people want to consume, like alcohol or tobacco. If we can accept this, we would be able to legitimize the market and eliminate the corruption and violence associated with its trade.
The article "The Pursuit of Happiness" [Oct. 22] describes Bhutan as "an idyllic Buddhist kingdom known for its gentle way of life." In the interest of balance, I draw attention to the persecution of a largely Hindu minority that has traditionally inhabited the Bhutanese lowlands, along with reports of forced deportations, violence and confiscation of ancestral property without compensation. Remaining minorities must wear ethnic Bhutanese costumes and are banned from teaching minority languages in schools. Maybe not so idyllic for all.
Insight into All Life
Thanks for Alice Park's article on "junk" DNA that can be easily understood by laypeople ["Don't Trash These Genes," Oct. 22]. Although it is labeled a health story, other fields, like agriculture, can benefit from these discoveries. We must not forget that what happens in human genetics is the same thing that happens in trees, in cows and in the peas that Gregor Mendel used to discover the fundamentals of genetics.
Ireland's True Heroes
I was angry that TIME featured Enda Kenny for rebuilding Ireland's economy ["The Irish Answer," Oct. 15]. We, the long-suffering and patient Irish people, are the real heroes of any potential economic comeback. We are suffering, and it was the inept government that got us here.