Editor: I have been reading a lot in The Sun about the auto insurance and how the insurance companies are ripping off policy-holders just because they live in a high-risk area.
I am not absolving the insurance companies entirely. But I think most of the blame for these high insurance rates should rest on ambulance-chasing lawyers and judges in our courts who give out exorbitant settlements in contested claims.
I was involved in an accident where there was no visible damage, according to the police. Nevertheless, my insurance company ended up paying out $5,000 to the other person involved and my insurance went up several hundred dollars a year.
Not only should we investigate the insurance companies, but the lawyers, judges and our courts should also be looked into.
Editor: Hats off to Maryland authorities who have finally recognized that teen-age sex and pregnancy are not just the concern or responsibility of young girls.
Males have definitely been excluded from pregnancy prevention for too long.
The various approaches suggested in the program are good. These are areas that need discussion.
I hope, however, that we are not going to be sending what would appear to me to be ambiguous, even contradictory messages.
One approach suggested was to discuss delaying sexual initiation while another approach was to distribute condoms. Are we assuming as a fact that a large number of teen-agers are or soon will be sexually active and that, therefore, we should concentrate on messages of "safe" sex? That we should concede that the battle for abstinence has been lost?
There is no shortage of good reasons for abstinence from sexual activity during adolescence (health issues being but one).
While studies demonstrate that many young males are concerned and want to help in supporting their children, I hope that part of the new program stresses deferment of sexual activity until one is developmentally, emotionally, educationally and financially more mature.
Editor: I would like to congratulate you on your excellent articles on the rural poor, particularly the one describing the working poor on our own Eastern Shore who can't make enough to live.
Human beings willing to work should never be reduced to needing hand-outs and charity to survive. It is degrading and murderous to tolerate such conditions -- for any reason. I, for one, would much rather pay higher prices, generated by employers paying a just wage, than higher taxes generated by ballooning welfare rolls.
Your article points out that the minimum wage has only recently been adjusted after remaining the same for nine years. This is wrong. I am therefore suggesting to my elected representatives that the federal minimum wage be indexed to the poverty level for at least a family of three, that it be adjusted each year and that the "poverty level" be determined each year on regional if not state-by-state basis.
I might also suggest to the Salisbury Chamber of Commerce that it review this situation critically to see if enough corporate executives and owners have the intestinal fortitude to decide what is a fair way to make a profit and adjust the wages for their lowest paid workers.
John D. Schiavone.
Editor: There are many reasons to avoid war with Iraq. Such a war would kill thousands of young Americans and maim tens of thousands. It would further weaken our already weak economy.
Alienating the Arab and Moslem worlds would increase terrorism. It is likely that such terrorism will be experienced within the United States. The detonation of thousand of tons of high explosives would be a major threat to the environment even if Saddam does not use chemical or biological weapons.
But there is another reason as important as any of these. The United States grows ever more violent. Thousands of young Americans are murdered every year. Violence within families is epidemic. By being too impatient to allow sanctions to work, President Bush is telling every frustrated American that it isn't necessary to be patient in resolving differences; that it is acceptable to be violent even when non-violent means or resolving conflict are available.
President Bush said he wants the United States to be a "kinder, gentler nation." He can be sure it will not be such a nation if he wages this unnecessary war.
The sanctions are having a devastating effect on the Iraqi economy. They must be given a chance to work.
Stanley L. Rodbell.
Editor: "Compassion fatigue" is an unfortunate phrase that refers to the weariness currently felt by many citizens who regularly contribute both time and money to charity. Their weariness comes from the cumulative perception that despite all their efforts to alleviate human hardship, the problems are growing ever worse. As a result, their commitment is wavering, and many charities are faced with shortfalls at the very time increased generosity is needed.
No one should be surprised by this turn of events. It is the inevitable outcome of the flawed social policy of the Reagan-Bush era, a policy which was based on the premise that voluntary charity could be counted on to make up for cuts in mandated government services without jeopardizing the so-called safety net which was supposed to protect the truly needy from impoverishment. A quick look at today's growing numbers of homeless and hungry people makes it clear that both policy and safety net are in shreds.
What the Reagan-Bush policy refused to acknowledge was that charity, because it is dependent upon the willingness and ability of contributors to give, is ultimately based on chance. And chance is hardly an adequate foundation for a policy supposed to address the most fundamental of human needs.
The charitable impulse is one of mankind's most noble virtues, but for government to trade on this impulse and call it policy is misguided at best and cynical at worst. In either case, it amounts to an abdication of official responsibility and constitutes a betrayal not only of the needy, but of all those caring citizens who now suffer from compassion fatigue.
Reminder of Virginia Heritage
Editor: This is hysterical. I thought I was the only true Southerner struggling for survival in the liberal, tax-ridden, corruptly governed North until I read The Sun's articles on Virginia's legal claims to West Virginia and everything westward to the Pacific.
Edward Grimsley's commentary originally appeared in Richmond as a tongue-in-cheek article designed to invoke thoughts and a few smiles. No way was it a call to march on Washington, as is the impression I received by reading Joseph Sterne's rebuttal, "Saddamism Rampant."
Although Mr. Grimsley's article did cause a few smirks in Richmond, it did raise a very valid point: legally West Virginia does belong to the Old Dominion.
Mr. Grimsley stated that President Lincoln violated a constitutional law prohibiting the "creation of a new state from an existing state without the latter's permission," when he declared those Virginia counties that stayed in the Union to be known as West Virginia. Now, some people may try to argue this case invalid because Virginia supposedly no longer was a part of the United States. However, it would be interesting to note that Lincoln himself told his countrymen that no state could leave the United States and that the South, therefore, was still a part of the Union. That means that Lincoln still considered Virginia to be a state.
This consideration nullifies any argument for West Virginia statehood and brings to light another constitutional violation by the sixteenth president (the first being a decision to wage a war upon his own country - a war that could have been avoided if only he had listened to Col. James Baldwin's cry for diplomacy through Southern means).
Finally, the question of Virginia's rights to all American territories from the 35th Parallel to the 40th Parallel and everything westward can be mostly resolved by looking back at the ratification of the Constitution. In the late 1700s many of the Northern states, including Maryland, had western boundaries, whereas Virginia and several other Southern states did not. This unlimited supply of land did not sit well with the smaller states of the North since representation in Congress was to be by land ownership. In fact, these Northern states threatened to refrain from ratifying the Constitution unless Virginia and its brethren states agreed upon western boundaries. Needless to say, boundaries were soon drawn up with Virginia's extending to the Ohio River.
Edward Grimsley's commentary was a reminder to all Virginians of their heritage and pride. I do not think it was a call to arms to overthrow the federal government. And I must say that I found Joseph Sterne's rebuttal most insulting to a state that gave rise to America in the first place . Although I see where Mr. Grimsley may have overdone his patriotism just a tad, I sympathize with his loyalty to the Old Dominion.
James L. Jenkins Jr.