"It's understandable how Shapiro rationalize[s] [child care] into a feminist or lifestyle issue, but it still looks like cowardice or laziness to me."

Is this America?

Thank you for allowing Rick Anderson to publish his article "License to Kill" (11/4). As a 42-year-old professional who has grown up and lives in the wealthier part of the Eastside, I too have had many, many, many occasions to watch the police of western Washington commit all sorts of crimes (assault people during questioning, illegally stop motorists, collaborate with the prosecutor and flat-out lie to obtain conviction, drive recklessly just for the fun of it). Oh, then there's everyone's favorite, the Bellevue cop who was drunk and killed someone in a DWI and did not even get his hand slapped. If you file a complaint YOU are treated as a criminal for reporting them. A year ago I was stopped by a Bellevue policeman and had him threaten to kill me if I did not roll my window down further than it already was. I reported this same incident about eight times to eight different higher-ranking officers. They all thought it was funny.

Is this America, or do we live under martial law? Why is it in Washington state you are required to have a master's degree to teach elementary school but you only need a high school diploma to be a cop and carry a gun with a license to kill? The government of the state of Washington has its priorities seriously mixed up. I have come to two overwhelming conclusions: (1) The most manipulative, abusive people you will ever meet carry a gun and a badge. (2) There is absolutely no reason whatsoever for any law enforcement officer to carry a firearm on their person.

Please do not allow this issue to die like the many illegally slain victims of the Washington state police.

JOSEPH KENNEDY

VIA E-MAIL

Materialism or maternalism?

I read Nina Shapiro's angst-ridden piece on finding day care for her child ("Think you'll be a working mom?," 11/4) and am amazed that she could stop wringing her hands enough to lift them to a keyboard. Since "a central part of [her] identity" would otherwise have been lost, it seems she found the courage after all.

Belying her claim that making up one's mind about day care is hard, she devotes 90 percent of her article to relating her frustrations and poor treatment suffered in searching for somebody to assume her mothering duties. She hauls out feminist dogma justifying the institutionalized child abandonment that is day care, then ludicrously implies that only Christian conservatives are behind anti-day care sentiment. I am among those numerous nonreligious, nonagendized, and well-informed parents who place child rearing above career identity, extra income and materialist ego-fulfillment.

Shapiro conveniently sidesteps the nonfeminist knowledge that exclusively breastfed infants are smarter, healthier and emotionally better adjusted than bottle-babies stuck into day care. Even feeding with expressed breast milk meets only part of the baby's needs; the continuous care and bonding with a real mother is still absent. Bizarrely, many day-care institutions prohibit the use of expressed breast milk, and many working mothers find pumping at work impracticable.

I am fully aware of the intense need that working women—current or former—have to maintain or regain creative outlets or income while doing the fundamental, primitive, repetitive, isolating, and glorious task of nurturing an infant. Even with the full support by spouse, friends, and relatives, it is a difficult existence. Working in a nice controlled office environment is easy by comparison. It's understandable how Shapiro and others like her rationalize this into a feminist or lifestyle issue, but it still looks like cowardice or laziness to me.

Shapiro relates the "miracle" of finding the most wonderful, loving, and joyous caretaker imaginable (namely one whom Shapiro could afford); in light of what Shapiro evidently thinks is important in child-rearing, I do believe she is correct. How very sad for her, not to see the regret that lies ahead.

ALEXANDER STOLL

SEATTLE

Zero-sum game

Nina Shapiro describes the challenge she faced in finding care for her newborn daughter so that she and her husband might return to work ("Think you'll be a working mom?," 11/4). The panic faced by her and others has been described as a crisis by some. What factors have caused the phenomenon and normal outcome of birth to become a social dilemma? Could this problem be better described as the result of logical choices made by parents and the devaluing of caring for children by those who pay for this care and those who care for them?

The day-care challenge has often been framed and the debate waged in the compelling context of those who can least afford care but need it most; those people, mainly women and disproportionately single, who have no economic choice once circumstances or personal decision has led to their having children to care for. This problem must be addressed by all of us as we consider how best to alternately provide resources or the option of staying home for those where this might be the best choice.

However, the author and many like her and her husband are representative of perhaps the majority of those who seek day care, where it is an option driven by personal, professional, and marketplace decisions. They, along with the rest of us by the work and family decisions policies we have embraced or ignored, have created our own self- fulfilling challenge. The choice of returning to work is made available for those on the economic cusp by unrealistically low day-care costs, due in part to many day-care workers choosing to work for too little money and inadequate or absent benefits.

What would happen if the staff and management of the better and highly sought after centers decided to charge market value for their services or create a higher market value by taking their talents elsewhere? The resulting higher price would lead some of those whose incomes are subsidized by their day-care providers to reconsider their choices. When the spread between what one earns and what one pays for day care narrows, parents may see the economic value or necessity of staying home with their child. The higher incomes of two-worker families created in part by devalued day care contribute to a zero-sum game of more money chasing the same housing and other resources, thereby driving up their costs. So both parents must work because they need the money in order to afford the houses and other resources that they are competing for with others who have the same or higher incomes and needs. To understand the consequence of the current situation, consider this scenario: A day-care worker charges what they are worth. A public school teacher would have to quit work because they could not afford day care. Teachers become more scarce and thus can command a higher salary, which allows the teacher to return to work and pay the day-care worker what they are worth. And the resulting higher salaries for day-care workers lead to the field being more attractive to talented people.

Families will continue and children will be born notwithstanding day care and irrespective of the economy. Day care can be and is often highly stimulating for children and outside work invigorating for adults, as is watching one's own offspring. When choice is available, it will be based upon parents weighing their options regarding cost, availability, and where they would rather spend their time.

BRIAN GRANT

VIA E-MAIL

Lots of presents

I have been in the business of finding nannies for families for 15 years, and yes, it is difficult ("Think you'll be a working mom?," 11/4). You put an ad in the paper and people call who have no business being nannies or, if they sound good, make an appointment and never show up. This is something we endure on a daily basis. But this is our job. It is so much harder for a parent, especially a new parent. And it is an extremely emotional decision to try to find the best care for your child, whether it be day care or a nanny. If the nanny is in the country legally and is experienced, you can expect fulltime, live-out salaries to be between $2000 and $3000 per month. There are more families seeking nannies than there are good experienced nannies. However, even the beginners are starting at about $1800 to $2000 per month. If you employ a nanny, you want to treat her like she is worth her weight in gold, because she is. She is part of your parenting team and you do not want to have to replace her. If you do need to replace her, you will most probably be coming to a nanny placement agency, such as ours, and we all charge pretty hefty fees to find good nannies for families. So, Ms. Shapiro, my advice to you is to hang on to this one, treat her fairly, pay her well, compliment her constantly on the good job she is doing, and bring her lots of presents.

ANNIE DAVIS

ANNIE'S NANNIES, INC.

SEATTLE

Lutefisk lumpshits

The issue of whether or not to appreciate the artistic creations of a fiend or sociopath ("Ambient Nazi folk muzak," 11/4) is not "an intriguing philosophical question," as the author would have it; if one puts concerns of social acceptability and political correctness ahead of or even alongside one's individual intellectual determination, the issue is already tainted and hobbled by partiality. Hence, there is nothing remotely philosophical, in the strict sense, about the matter.

[Burzum's followers think] organized religion sucks. Now that's a stretch. What intellectual depth, effort, and originality it must have taken to come up with that! I wonder how these lutefisk lumpshits would package their arrested adolescent Dungeons and Dragons power fantasies if they knew that their boy Tolkien was a Catholic who hung out with and profoundly influenced C.S. Lewis, probably the greatest Christian mind to emerge from the English-speaking world within memory.

Too bad the fratricidal murder Burzum committed didn't start a trend among the sunlight-vitamin-deprived coteries of this idiotic "movement." C'mon, guys—paint it black!

PERRY BAUER

DES MOINES

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