Oil and Reason
Editor: All the rhetoric aside, our position in the Middle East is influenced by one word -- OIL. If Saddam Hussein's actions were taken by a ruler in Asia or Africa or even South America the reply of the United States and/or the United Nations would be "a diplomatic note" or, at most, removal of diplomatic missions. If the situation continues to escalate we may be equating barrels of oil with "body bags". Robert Ingersoll, a Civil War veteran, once wrote: "When the sword is drawn, reason remains in the scabbard."
J. Bernard Hihn.
Editor: During his recent speech, President Bush asserted the most compelling reason so far for the growing U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf, though it was the last on his stated list of objectives. "Out of these troubled times," he declared, "our fifth objective -- a new world order -- can emerge."
In Mr. Bush's words, we are approaching an era of world peace and prosperity that has eluded a hundred generations before us. It is a rallying call similar to one heard earlier this century about "the war to end all wars," which subsequent history made a mockery. But perhaps this time it is truly attainable.
With the peaceful conclusion to the Cold War, it is now possible to have a foreign policy that is moral. We no longer need to tacitly support despots and dictators out of the necessity that they are in our sphere of interest. Our sphere of interest now is international stability and the rule of law. Tyrants everywhere are frightened and are falling.
As President Bush said, "no longer can a dictator count on East-West confrontation to stymie concerted United Nations action against aggression." Saddam Hussein's desire to extend his reign of tyranny is being denied, and he, too, may fall. It is a resounding message to aggressors around the globe, and will result in adding appreciably to the quotient of peace and justice of our troubled century. This is the best justification for our efforts in the Persian Gulf, and makes our presence there both important and noble.
Editor: The proposal to take away the federal income tax deduction from charitable contributions will soon be coming to vote in Washington. It is difficult to imagine a measure having a greater impact on Baltimore and Maryland. Yet there has been little outcry against this proposal.
It is increasingly clear that for fiscal reasons both the state anthe federal government will continue to cut services to needy Maryland citizens.
The state Department of Human Resources has already announced that because the burgeoning need for services has dramatically out-stripped the funds budgeted for 1990, it is being forced to cut non-mandatory services in order to continue providing essential services. The governor has imposed a hiring freeze, among other measures, to cope with a huge and mounting state deficit. That deficit can be attributed primarily to increasing human service demands and rising criminal justice costs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is not increasing the size of its grants to states for human services; indeed, it apparently is tightening the standards for existing grant programs.
The need for human services is greater than ever and undoubtedly will multiply dramatically over the next decade. At the same time, government agencies are cutting spending and tightening their belts. However, relying on taxes from charitable contributions is dangerously short-sighted and self-defeating.
In the decade to come the city and state will be forced to relmore and more on private charities. Yet removing the deduction for charitable contributions will deprive these agencies of their most effective fund-raising tool. There can be no more wrong-headed approach to deficit-cutting than to incapacitate the very agencies which have the potential for filling in the gap between citizens' needs and state and city means.
Kathleen A. Morse.
Editor: Letter writer Kathy Jo Oswinkle has a problem finding a tutor in reading for her son and thinks adult literacy program are "like trying to close the barn door after the horse is out." She points out her success in taking adult education classes and wonders why there isn't something like that for children after school.
There is. It's called parenting. Spend some time working with the floundering student to get him back on the track of what's being taught in the classroom. If an adult is thirsting for knowledge, what better place to start than with one's own children? Do some parent-homework.
What are teachers doing after 3:10 p.m.? After teaching and caring for other people's kids all day, they are probably grading papers, drawing up lesson plans, preparing grades, making up dittos or maybe helping their own kids with their homework. And teachers are also required to continue their education.
Illiterate adults who pass as children through classrooms are almost always people whose parents never had any time to help over the stumbling blocks of primary education. Isn't it funny how a person who considers teaching 20 children an easy job would never even consider teaching her own?
Editor: How much this culture has changed since I was a student in the Baltimore County Public Schools from 1944 to 1948. The burden of teaching values and even reading ultimately landed on the parents' backs.
My mother tutored me, as well as many children in the neighborhood, in both reading and math. Does the writer spend time with her child at the public library? Read to her child? Keep the TV off most of the time? And let her child see her reading?
Teachers do not work "six hours or less per day?" I know: I married a teacher and compete with the school for her time and attention every week night. They are paid less than plumbers and yet remain the best role models of our society.
If a child is illiterate, the blame rests not on the teacher, but on parents and society.
M. S. Jan Ports.
No Time for a Deal
Editor: I take exception to Robert O. Freedman's Opinion -- Commentary article of September 1, entitled "Time for Israel to Offer A Deal." He suggests that now is the opportune time for Israel to unilaterally offer the Palestinians their own state. I believe that Dr. Freedman misreads the situation which has been created by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, especially as it affects Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Dr. Freedman is even out of touch with his fellow members of the Peace Now Movement in Israel. By all press accounts, even Israeli leftists are embarrassed by their previous advocacy of dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization. They now see that the Palestinians have given total support to Saddam Hussein who has publicly stated that his goal is total destruction and elimination of Israel. How can Dr. Freedman suggest negotiating with those who advocate the destruction and annihilation of Israel? He shows a total disregard for Israel's safety and security.
Dr. Freedman belittles the autonomy provisions of the Camp David Accord by stating that it "only offers the Palestinians the right to sweep their own streets and collect their own garbage" when, in fact, it gives them self-rule with the exception of foreign affairs and security. He also glaringly omits mention of the fact that any moderate Palestinian leader who has shown a willingness to deal with the reality of Israel and negotiate accordingly has been murdered by the operatives of the PLO . . .
%Rabbi Herman N. Neuberger.
Editor: Barry Louise Polisar has long been a favorite of this family. The recent furor over the suitability of his songs seems to be perfect material for his next album. Thanks to the publicity, Polisar's popularity will probably increase. I know. My eight year old plays his songs non-stop now.
Barbara A. K. Porter.