Letters to the Editor

Trump is anything but a ‘master negotiator’

President Trump announces the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
President Trump announces the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. The Washington Post

‘Master negotiator?’

Regarding “Trump says US will exit nuclear accord with Iran” (May 9): Where is the master negotiator? President Trump promised to be a dealmaker on the world stage. But what has he done? China has cancelled orders for soybeans, pork and corn and are no closer to ending the trade deficit. Europe, Canada and Mexico are angry about our tariffs and are less inclined to support us when we face off with others. The U.S. pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, then President Trump asked to get in.

All of this has alienated our friends and united our opponents.

Now Iran. The president hates the deal but did not offer any improvements. He says that Iran cannot be trusted but he ended the deal, and in so doing strengthened the hardliners who want war. He also alienated our allies who plan to trade without us, and again made China and Russia look better by comparison. Why would Iran, North Korea, or anyone go out on a limb to negotiate after this?

Was the deal perfect? No. Neither was Regan and Gorbachev’s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty but it did work. We gained respect. We gained allies. We gained security, and a better chance at peace. With this one act we have lost a lot, and gained nothing.

Collin Lynch


‘Time is now’

‘Sunny day flooding’ worsens at NC beaches – a sign sea rise is decades too soon, studies say” (May 7) highlights how serious climate change is and its threat to NC economic stability and coastal resources. It’s clear that climate change is happening and that humans are a major contributor. Now is the time to do something about it.

I’ve researched many options, and the one that makes the most sense involves shifting our economy to use less carbon by 1) putting a rising price on carbon 2) taking that additional revenue and plowing it back into the economy by paying a monthly carbon dividend directly to citizens and 3) doing a border adjustment to remove any incentives to shift the problem to other countries.

Shifting away from carbon is economically sound, it’s politically viable, and the time is now.

Jean Ritok

Chapel Hill

Data needed

Regarding the letter to the editor “Tax ‘sham’” (May 15): Hear, hear. I would welcome a data-based, publicly-available report of results for last five years of passed bond issues and property tax increases for both Raleigh and Wake County before either government entity passes yet another property tax increase or floats a new bond issue. Selling is one thing; demonstrating concrete results is quite another.

As for funding increases for education: what is the current ratio of administrative and support staff to teachers (those who have face-to-face contact with students)? How frequently, or is, an audit performed on WCPSS such that the cost per pupil is broken down into percentage of cost attributed to administration/support staff vs. percentage attributed to classroom teachers?

Kathleen Payne


Don’t imply cause

Something really must be done about the quality of science reporting – and the quality of the science that is reported on. The study outlined in “Sexism isn’t just an equality issue – it’s a health one, too” (May 5) should not have been reported on, or published in a supposedly scientific journal. “Self-reported” health may have little or nothing to do with actual health.

Did the authors check to see if self-reports (by “economically active respondents” healthy enough to answer a survey) are reliable predictors of actual, physical health? No, they did not. Their own claim is inconsistent even with data they do report: “In general, studies show that men report better self-rated health than women ... [self-report] is nonetheless an important dimension of individuals’ well-being and is strongly correlated with more ‘objective’ indicators of health, including mortality.”

Er, really, given that women live longer than men but (according to the authors) report more ill-health?

The main problem with this and countless similar studies is that although they usually avoid saying so directly, the authors treat a correlation between A and B as the same as A causes B. Even if these self-reports are accurate, it is impossible to conclude that one causes the other: either that feeling harassed causes sickness, or that feeling sick makes you feel harassed. Studies like this are nothing but “noise” tuned to the prevailing political winds.

John Staddon

James B. Duke Professor, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Professor, Department of Biology, Emeritus

Duke University