Editor: Nobody likes to pay taxes. However, the posture of the advocates of a 2 percent cap on revenue in Baltimore County is simply ridiculous.
Supporters of the tax revenue cap certainly should be involved in monitoring government to be certain their money is spent wisely. However, few of us are in a position to afford losing government services in health, education, juvenile justice, etc.
A vote for the tax revenue cap in Baltimore County is a bad buy.
Church in Russia
Editor: The editorial on the Russian Orthodox Church, Oct. 8, was most reprehensible and uncomprehending. The hierarchy of the Russian church was no more guilty of complicity with the atheistic authorities than the church leaders of any other land who live within the cruelty systems which justify racism, militarism and exploitation in our modern world.
This has been the experience of the church from the beginning. The New Testament itself teaches obedience to "the governing authorities." The church has always outlived its persecutors not by opposing them but by endurance. The story of the Russian Orthodox Church is but further evidence of that power to overcome.
No hierarchy or institutional church is without sin when it comes to complicity in the political and cultural order in which it finds itself. The world is too much with us. It is the dilemma, the painful paradox of Christian faith, to be in the world but not of it.
Whatever weakness and faults the Russian Orthodox Church may have, it never faltered in affirming faith in Jesus Christ as Lord while patiently waiting for the day when it would out-live and out-shine the absurdity of atheism.
The Russian Church gave to Caesar what was Caesar's and gave to God what is God's, the higher love, truth and devotion.
As one privileged to worship in both Russian Orthodox and Baptist churches in Moscow, I have been impressed by the depth of faith, the spirituality and devotion of people standing throughout lengthy and beautiful services of worship. The soul of Russia was kept alive.
In this new era of freedom, the Russian Orthodox Church faces challenges of accommodation with sister churches within its own land and among the nations. The goodwill of the Russian church and its leaders has been evidenced by participation in the World Council of Churches and other international assemblies.
We should rejoice in its faith, its goodwill and pray for its continuing growth in grace with all the churches, rather than condemning a church whose history and traditions are still so little known or understood in the West.
N. Ellsworth Bunce.
The writer is pastor of Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
Editor: In some quarters in the country, it has been de rigueur for many years to trash Americans and/or America. I have often thought a fascinating psychological study would be one devoted to those who revel in this type of negativism. These were some thoughts as I read Murray White's contribution to the Opinion * Commentary page, Oct. 10. He was writing about role models. Near the end, he stamped his piece with indelible signature of the trash America crowd.
Mr. White had explained how a Russian, Viktor Baldin, had carted off -- stolen would be accurate -- a hoard of valuable paintings he found in an old German castle in 1945. Forty-five years later he decided to give them back to the rightful owner, a German museum, making no monetary demands. When asked why he had done this he replied, "I just could not degrade the art or myself."
Then came the indelible signature. Mr. White asked, "Can you imagine an American saying that?"
So sweeping a condemnation of 250 million of us is a breathtaking charge. Surely Mr. White does not believe all the noble-minded, altruistic peoples of the world reside in other countries. Or does he? Had he written his piece solely to get in his gratuitous slur? One wonders.
The answer to Mr. White's question is, "Yes. There are countless legions of us who, without hesitation, could sincerely have spoken Viktor Baldin's words."
Further, there are legions of us who would not have taken 45 years to return the paintings. Or indeed, would not have committed the theft in the first place.
Martin W. Mayer.
Disputing 'Wet' Claims on the Land
Editor: With respect to your editorial of Oct. 2, "Protecting Inland Wetlands" and Colonel Finch's letter of Oct. 9, "Vital Wetlands," I hope I can enlighten you on the "delicate eco-system" you advocate preserving.
The "delicate eco-system" of non-tidal wetlands is a definitional problem due to the new federal manual. I believe that virtually every American and Marylander would be in favor of protecting real wetlands.
Dry yards, fields, farms and forests should not be classified as jurisdictional wetlands. The eco-system is a delicate balance of all forms of landscape and erroneous classifications can do extensive damage to upset that balance.
The Fairness to Land Owners Committee would never have been formed if the federal government would have maintained the word "wet" in the definition of non-tidal wetlands.
Asking the American and Maryland public to believe that dry yards, fields, farms and forest are non-tidal wetlands is an outrageous farce. Taking private property by calling it a non-tidal wetland, by virtue of hydric soils, without proof that it functions as a filter for the aquatic eco-system, is beyond the comprehension of the democratic mind. It is tantamount to the sham of the tailors in "The Emperor's New Clothes," where it took a little child to say "the Emperor is naked."
The sham began when the Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that there were approximately 200 million acres of wetlands when the European settlers arrived here, and that by the mid-'70s only approximately 99 million acres remain.
Armed with these estimates, environmental extremists persuaded this administration to do a 180-degree shift in the policy that existed since the birth of our Nation, and adopt the "no net loss" policy.
No one seemed concerned that this rhetoric was arbitrary, undefined, immeasurable, unscientific and unconstitutional. It is incomprehensible that this cute phrase could be uttered without an evaluation of the impact on private property rights or the economy.
It is unintelligible that no one challenged the fact that these estimates were derived from data collected 15 to 35 years ago and that most of the previous losses were engineered by the government. In 1849, under the federal Swamp and Land Act, the government gave wetlands away to individuals, on the condition that they be drained and converted to something more useful.
The power of persuasion of environmental groups is beyond belief. The top 10 have combined budgets of $240 million.
The National Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Environmental Defense Fund, Izaak Walton League, Ducks Unlimited, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, etc., elicit membership and contributions from people who believe these organizations are dedicated to the noble cause of protecting soil, air woods, water and wildlife. Most members are unaware that their agenda also includes growth and population control.
Marching to the orders of the "no net loss" policy and these groups, federal agencies redefined wetlands and, through creative accounting, actually posted a gain. As an example, the preservationists claim that farming practices resulted in over 80 percent of the wetland losses the Fish and Wildlife Service zTC estimated. If those acres were lost, they should not have been regulated as wetlands. If they still function as wetlands, then the historic losses are not what the Fish and Wildlife Service claims. They can't have their cake and eat it too!
When will they hear the little child and free our dry yards, fields and forests?
Margaret Ann Reigle.
The writer is founder and chairman of the Fairness to Land Owners Committee.