Editor: Now we enter into a debate about the Mideast crisis. The question is simple: Do we start a "modern" war in which bombing is the primary death vehicle, followed by a hopefully low-U.S. casualty "mop up," or don't we? This question concerns petroleum, the sovereignty of nations, potential destruction and
blood sacrifices, our world image and patriotism.
But what about that other Mideast problem, the one that hasn't gone away for four decades? Of course, how could we forget the Palestinians. A successful resolution to the problems presented by Israel's displaced Palestinians has long been seen as a major key to Mideast stability. For despite generally humane treatment by Israel there remain two generations of several million displaced, resentful, impoverished second-class citizens who are servants in their own land.
But the questions have also been where would a Palestinian homeland be located and how would such a collection of people be supported? Perhaps Saddam Hussein, in relocating some of the Palestinians into occupied Kuwait, has stumbled in a promising direction. Let us also consider this.
If, by some miracle, Saddam Hussein were convinced to leave Kuwait peacefully, would he wish to turn that country back over to the same fat-cat monarchy and associated dependents, native and foreign, which existed there before? And, by the same token, if we make him leave forcibly, how will we feel about perpetuating the inequities of the Mideast status quo?
Perhaps it is in the interest of the soon-to-be belligerent parties to start thinking about how to create a viable Palestinian homeland where the three crucial ingredients -- land, income and location on the Arabian Peninsula -- are available. The seeds of a peaceful resolution to the current stalemate may be found through addressing an old injustice.
Gorbachev's Colonial Empire
Editor: Your editorial, "Americans Feeding Russians," rightly concludes that "unless President Gorbachev is willing to scrap the whole communist system, the generous aid now flooding into the Soviet Union is not going to be enough to save him."
Unfortunately, Mr. Gorbachev's latest statements indicate that he is far away from even thinking to do just that.
The truth is that he sees the communist system as his only chance to retain control over his crumbling multinational state, which, in fact, is nothing but a continuation of the Russian-governed colonial empire. The non-Russian nations in that empire are doomed to a status of pawns only.
Presently, the long suppressed winds of freedom are sweeping across this vast colonial empire. Formerly free nations, such as the Baltic states, Ukraine, Georgia and other Soviet republics, want nothing but national independence from the center in Moscow. They are for economic cooperation -- but only as equals with equals.
This is why the democratic forces within these nations oppose Gorbachev's current feverishly prepared new "union" treaty. They view it as another attempt by the center in Moscow to relocate them from one prison cell to another.
The Soviet Union's current crisis is not economic but national. It will cease only when all nations of that empire become truly free and independent.
Wolodymyr C. Sushko.
'No' to Linowes
Editor: Enough is enough. I was very upset upon hearing the recommendations that Maryland impose a personal-property tax on possessions and tax property on full market value. The recommendations, it was said, would make the tax system fairer for all and that the rich would shoulder most of the tax increase. This is pure chicanery on the part of some shrewd politicians.
My proof just came in the mail in the form of my property assessment, which showed an increase in value of more than 76 percent. Heaven knows what it would have been if I had made any improvements to the house or property.
I think the time has come to stop penalizing the citizenry for the unwise spending habits of the political machine. Let's hold the politicians accountable for the funding of their special projects, and let's enforce it by killing the idea of a personal-property tax, by demanding that assessments not exceed the rate of inflation, and by demanding that state and local income tax rates do not increase.
I would support user taxes as long as the proceeds were earmarked for services or projects that are directly related and beneficial to the user.
Richard C. Engleman.
Editor: Doug Struck's reporting on the working poor in Maryland moves me to shame.
I researched my tax records for 1955, the year I returned to Maryland. The federal income tax exemption in 1955 was $600. In 1990, it is $2,050. The Maryland income tax exemption in 1955 was $800. In 1990, it is $1,200.
The Social Security payroll deduction in 1955 was 2 percent. In 1990, it is 7.65 percent.
At the very least, shouldn't the federal and state income tax exemptions be adjusted to reflect the cost-of-living increase over the past 35 years? Obviously, our community has been back-sliding in motivating the poor and in rewarding those who try.
I would prefer to pay more income taxes through a higher tax rate than to continue with these unrealistic exemption amounts which reduce the lower-paid workers' take-home pay.
Otto A. Klier.
Counting Holiday Blessings
Editor: Depression, recession, layoffs, furloughs, murders, tax increases, homelessness . . .
Despite the bleak financial and moral decline we are now experiencing, we can still take the time to be grateful for what we can call our own. We should focus on our families and the real reason we take time to celebrate.
This year, let us take time to count our blessings by celebrating a job, food, good health, family, friends -- and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.
Take time to celebrate life. Take time to be thankful for all you have.
Deborah P. Austin.