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The cost of meat

EDITOR: Nicholas D. Kristof's Friday column talks about the meat industry ("An unappetizing look at the meat market"). It starts out by talking about the disastrous environmental impacts and the medical consequences of antibiotic use as well as the impoverishment of small farmers. But then he talks about the benefit of reduced meat prices. I reject the idea that the reduced price offsets the other damage that the meat industry is doing.

More important, we as a country are suffering from chronic health problems, such as but hardly limited to obesity, that are caused in part by eating too much meat. We would all be much better off if we raised meat under natural conditions and just accept the monetary cost. It would be better environmentally, medically and economically as well as in terms of preventive health. Industrial meat production has no benefits for the population at large.

EDWARD MEISSE

Santa Rosa

Real-world skills

EDITOR: There are many foibles in the American education system. Insufficient funds, dropping test scores and the overall quality of education are just some of them; but what I find particularly flawed is the lack of financial education.

As a high school student, I am taught how to graph sine curves, but not how to balance a checkbook. I am taught how to calculate kinetic and potential energy, but not how to invest my money in a responsible manner. I am taught how to derive the equation of a hyperbola from little given information, but I am not taught the value of a dollar.

School is supposed to prepare you for life but which seems more valuable: teaching pre-calculus, trigonometry and physics or financial education?

RYAN McKNIGHT

Santa Rosa

The courage problem

EDITOR: As a Catholic, a former eucharistic minister and the mother of a gay daughter, I was both dismayed and upset to read the article about the "Courage" program at St. Eugene's Cathedral ("Catholic program on gays draws criticism," March 7).

Joseph Sciambra, a former porn star who no longer identifies himself as gay, brought the program here. He said the goal is to offer homosexuals hope and a place within the Catholic Church. That promise of hope only comes at the price of their complete denial of who they are.

It is true that many people who are gay do not see a place for themselves within the Catholic church. Programs such as "Courage" serve to cement this alienation. Homosexuals, in church teachings, are considered aberrations of nature and are concluded to be leading sinful lives.

Once again, the homosexual community is the victim of ignorance and unfair judgment. It's time for the Catholic Church to practice its doctrine of love, compassion and truth. Otherwise it will continue to see people such as myself walking away from the fold.

JOAN Mc AULIFFE

Santa Rosa

Guns and victims

EDITOR: You printed a letter decrying the decision by the Idaho Legislature to allow college students to carry guns on campus ("Guns on campus," Wednesday). The writer was sure that guns in the hands of stressed out students would lead to violence.

A 24-year-old woman who attended the University of Nevada, Reno, had a gun and a concealed carry permit, but the university poobahs of supreme knowledge decreed that the campus was and is a "gun-free zone." So, the young woman left her gun at home, as she is a good law-abiding citizen, and then was violently raped in the parking lot one night as she did not have her weapon to defend herself.