Letters, the Week of Dec. 31, 2015

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Readers discuss poverty, ethics and Jonathan Pollard’s release.

Poverty Not the Only Factor Hindering Children
Judith Levine uses a model of education popular in the social sciences that omits any study of the brain science of the past three decades (“Temple Sociologist Looks at Causes and Cures for Deep Poverty,” Dec. 17). Her remarks about education are, on the basis of brain science, inaccurate and unwarranted. The prenatal period and first year of life are the most crucial for brain development, when there is a larger loss of nerve cells through sloughing that at any other time. Without educational programs that support prenatal health and enriched programs for infants and toddlers from birth to entry into elementary school, objectively, based on brain research the children will be at high risk for underdeveloped brains due to governmental neglect and the omission of brain research in the formulations of social scientists. Teachers cannot repair preventable lack of brain development, neglected by lack of programs for children before birth until school enrollment. In order to help children more effectively, I hope that scientists will become more thorough in studying brain science in order to prevent further learning challenges. Yes, the schools can always be improved. But brains neglected prior to birth until school attendance have already passed the critical period when they could develop fully.
David Herman | Elkins Park
A Deep Dive Into Corporate Ethics
Jonathan Greenberg propounds (Dec. 17, letter) that “companies should never act with morality in mind,” but simply “should maximize shareholder profit.” This position is not descriptive economic fact but a prescriptive ideology that took hold in American boardrooms in the 1980s. Traced back to Milton Friedman, it postulates that the purpose of a corporation is not the benefit of all of its stakeholders — employees, the public as well as shareholders — but only the latter. It is apodictically proclaimed, not empirically demonstrated; as such, it is not carved in fiscal stone. It is rather, like so many economic models, rooted in speculative whimsy. In the words of Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” Not to mention that the rabbis would deride Friedman’s unbridled selfish outlook as midat s’dom (Sodomitic behavior).
Further: Greenberg identifies Teva as not a Jewish company but merely one that happens to be headquartered in Israel. That is identical to the gist of the BDS argument: namely, that the Zionist occupation of Palestine — and the commerical entities it has spawned, such as Teva — has no basis in, let alone claim to, Judaism.
Roy A. Davidson | Lancaster
Another View on Pollard’s Release
Roberta Dzubow’s apologia for Jonathan Pollard’s antics (Dec. 17, letter) was loathsome and repulsive. Pollard is no American “prisoner of Zion.” Rather, he is a Jewish Benedict Arnold. But then, her presentation is classic rhetoric of the Zionist Organization of America, kindling to mind that of Donald Trump: a high-pitched, low-brow effort always insisting that it is right, no matter how little evidence exists for the claims being made. Jonathan Pollard is a righteous dude and a victim, for instance, while thousands of Muslims in New Jersey cheered on 9/11.
Jesse H. Wahlberg | Philadelphia 

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