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Opinion | Fixing the Quality Problems at Boeing

To the Editor:

Re “‘Shortcuts’ Paint a Picture of Boeing Ceding Quality” (front page, March 31):

The sad story of Boeing unfortunately seems to be a metaphor for this country. We have quality issues all over our infrastructure; we have world-class institutions struggling to maintain standards; we have political brands that are being devalued because of extreme positions by some leaders.

Boeing — before being taken over by management brought in through the McDonnell Douglas acquisition in 1997 — was by far the best plane maker in the world. But new management in the post-merger period stressed return on investment and profitability rather than engineering and quality, and the company’s culture shifted over time.

Charles H. Gessner
Marblehead, Mass.
The writer was an in-house consultant for Swissair.

To the Editor:

Re “Boeing Chief to Resign in a Major Reshuffle” (Business, March 26):

Boeing’s latest leadership overhaul will achieve the necessary results only if the company does the hard work of changing its culture as well.

For years, Boeing has been plagued by a culture that has been described as “broken,” “sick” and filled with “secrecy and intimidation.” Employees were notoriously afraid to speak out about problems they saw internally.

A Harvard Business School professor, Amy Edmondson, once called Boeing “a textbook case of how the absence of psychological safety — the assurance that one can speak up, offer ideas, point out problems, or deliver bad news without fear of retribution — can lead to disastrous results.”

Fixing problems in any company requires a culture of openness and information sharing. It means prioritizing curiosity over blame. Employees need to feel free to point out any problems they see and to admit mistakes without fear that a single error will spell the end of their careers.

It’s time for Boeing to stop looking for people to point the finger at, and start looking for systemic flaws that allow for these dangerous incidents to occur. The more employees are empowered with a sense of support and a positive team mentality, the further Boeing will get in preventing future disasters.

Jason Korman
The writer is C.E.O. of Gapingvoid Culture Design Group.

In 1864 women could not vote, their husbands were their masters, girls could be forced to marry at the age of 10, and they had little indoor plumbing and no electricity. And we are about to turn women’s rights back to that era?

I am furious but also confused. What country and what century are we living in? I weep for Arizona and for America.

Barbara Rosen
Fullerton, Calif.

To the Editor:

Re “New Biden Bid to Help Pay Off Student Loans” (front page, April 9):

On Aug. 14, 2023, my check for $8,653.90 paid off the remaining balance of my undergraduate student loans. It is no coincidence that the final balance was less than $10,000, as I had waited to see if the Supreme Court would allow President Biden to “cancel” my federal student loans up to that amount.

When the court announced that it would not allow it, I sent in the money to avoid paying the interest it would soon resume accruing. I am proud that I accepted the obligation and completed it much earlier than planned because of a no-interest forbearance for several years.

I am disappointed that the administration is trying again to cancel student loans for many Americans for two reasons. First, I believe that it is a purely political attempt to garner support for what will probably be a very close election.

Additionally, I believe that canceling loans for some Americans is wrong as it releases people from an obligation they willingly accepted, and it does nothing to address the skyrocketing cost of higher education.

There are better solutions, including lowering the interest rates set by Congress (the current rate for undergraduates is 5.50 percent) on these loans. Lower interest rates would help reduce the “runaway interest” referred to by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona while also ensuring that people have an incentive to pay back their loan obligations as soon as possible.

Christopher M. Palma
Little Silver, N.J.

They love New York City and traveling around our vast and varied country, but it is rare that they want to stay here permanently.

Au pairs from “nice” countries like Sweden, Australia, Germany or France, for example, want to live back in their home countries, where health care and education from preschool through college are free or low-cost. They need not worry about mass shootings or obtaining an abortion, and they claim that even the food is better!

I knew one au pair from Poland who paid for her flight home, had a root canal and flew back for less than what the procedure would cost here. So, Donald Trump, if you want people from these “nice” countries to come here, some major changes would have to be made.

Eileen Friedman
Port Washington, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Re “Gaza Protests Vex Democrats From White House to City Hall” (front page, April 7):

In your excellent story about Gaza war protests challenging Democratic leaders, a caption and the body of the story both use the term “pro-Palestinian demonstrators.” Use of this term can unnecessarily stoke division and dissension.

I am among those fervently protesting President Biden’s policy on the war in Gaza. I am neither pro-Israeli nor pro-Palestinian. I support Israel’s right to defend itself, but not by the heinous tactics of siege and bombardment that have left Gaza in rubble, tens of thousands dead and Gazans on the brink of starvation.

My America does not support these kinds of war tactics by any nation, including its allies. This is a deeply moral issue for many of us, and it cannot be boiled down to pro-Palestinian. It is pro-humanity.

Nancy Ketcham-Colwill
Arlington, Va.

To the Editor:

Re “Politicians Aren’t Even Fooling Themselves,” by Gail Collins and Bret Stephens (The Conversation, April 2):

Mr. Stephens’s comment about environmental regulations, “Let’s protect people and care less about, say, fish,” belongs in the pre-“Silent Spring” era. Protecting the health of fish populations benefits not only the ecosystem but also the well-being of industries such as commercial and recreational fishing and tourism. New Yorkers should be proud of their efforts to protect the Hudson River.

For a national and global perspective, readers should look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s One Health approach, which “recognizes that the health of people is closely connected to the health of animals and our shared environment.”

Fred Pinkney
Takoma Park, Md.
The writer is an aquatic biologist.

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