Editor: Isn't it ironic that Robert Linowes, your Marylander of the Year, is lauded in your Dec. 30 editorial as "the ultimate Washingtonian"?
If that isn't the problem in a nutshell, it's certainly a mighty large part of it.
Carol A. Arscott.
Teach Not Preach
Editor: Teaching kids about birth control and abstinence at the same time seems to raise objections from some adults. I frequently ask myself how much these people really know about today's young people.
Charles Scardina (letter, Dec. 29) suggests that schools teach morals and values through the content of stories and history. This may be the objective, but is that what the students really get out of these courses?
The fact remains that teen-agers have sex. Yes, urge them to abstain, but let's not close our eyes to the fact that many of them are already sexually active.
Their idols sing about sex, talk about it and represent it on television, videos and other media. Unfortunately, these media have more appeal for many young people than Western civilization, Spanish or algebra.
To experiment with the forbidden, to take hair-raising risks, to skip school for something more interesting are some realities of being a teen-ager.
I am not talking about the few straight-A, college-bound kids. I am talking about the bored and restless, who can't relate what they see in school with what they see happening in their lives, who may be at risk to drop out or barely make it.
If we can't keep them interested in academic subjects, how can we expect them to listen when we urge them to abstain from sex?
If we want to reduce the issue to economics, aren't education about birth control and contraception easier and less painful than the agony of deciding whether to have a baby, keep it, put it up for adoption or to abort?
Social service assistance, welfare and other programs are supported through taxes. Teen-age moms who don't have the means to care for their children affect us all, directly or indirectly.
We all have choices to make. Some teen-agers will see the sense of abstinence and choose it. Others, however, will reject it as another example of adults trying to tell young people what to do and how to live.
Teach kids about sex, abstinence, AIDS and birth control. Give them a chance to talk to or about real people. Ask what they feel and think without passing judgment. Listen to their fears and concerns. Help them look at their options realistically and make responsible decisions without preaching.
Didn't a very wise man say once that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?
Calendar of Events
Editor: There are several historic dates for the Middle East coming up in January and I think not all of them are fully appreciated.
President Bush's Get-out-of-Kuwait-or-else day is Jan. 15. He has worked very hard to make Saddam Hussein believe in this day. Everyone agrees that the first action of the United States forces will be to establish absolute air superiority.
If Mr. Hussein believes this threat, then Jan. 14 is his Use-'em-or-lose-'em day, since his air force and missiles would be gone by the next evening. He can then either give up or launch a jihad against Israel. He would be betting that no other Arab nation would fight on Israel's side and the U.S. coalition would disintegrate. He has a history of such violent aggressive acts.
Given this probability, Jan. 13 is Pre-emptive-strike day for Israel. Its government has done this before and was quite successful. Why should Israel wait for the poison gas warheads to start falling now?
My point is that if the U.S. does not quickly back off and adopt a more long-term view, a conflagration could start at any time and no one will have any control over it.
Editor: Whatever happens, whatever the outcome, we may be sure that President Bush's Middle Eastern foray will not be to our interest.
The United States has become addicted to getting entangled in no-win wars or wars in which even victory spells defeat.
We may bomb or starve Iraq into submission, thereby becoming even more hated in the Arab and Moslem world.
Or we may go home without firing a shot and with nothing accomplished but some cosmetic diplomacy that sends Saddam Hussein off to a 20th-century Elba.
But when all is said and done, militarily or diplomatically, sooner or later a new Saddam Hussein will materialize, just as Saladin materialized to beat back that earlier horde of Western Crusaders.
alph M. Ruark.
Editor: Those who criticize our military presence in the Persian Gulf by using the slogan, "no blood for oil," mislead people into thinking that the only reason for having 400,000 troops there is to make the world safe for oil. In reality, we are asking our children to risk their lives not only for oil but also to defend Saudi Arabia and its way of life.
To understand what our troops will be dying for, I recommend that everyone read the State Department's most recent report on human rights.
It states that Saudi Arabia is a country where "all forms of political expression (except those favorable to the regime) are forbidden . . . Citizens do not have the ability to peacefully change their government. There are no formal democratic institutions and most Saudi citizens have no voice in the choice of leaders or in changing the political system."
Furthermore, "there are no popularly elected officials in Saudi Arabia. Political parties are not permitted and there are no public organized opposition groups."
Conversion to Christianity in Saudi Arabia is a crime punishable by death. Anyone wearing a cross can be arrested because Christian symbols are considered too offensive for public display.
Women in Saudi Arabia have few rights and may not drive cars or ride bicycles. In fact, they are not allowed to travel unless they have the written permission of their nearest male relative. Women "are restricted to specially designated sections in the rear of urban buses with separate entrances."
According to our State Department, "Islamic advice columns in the Saudi press frequently recommend beating of women as a form of discipline.' Now we know what our children will be fighting for in the Persian Gulf.
Editor: Meat inspection in Maryland began in the late 1960s when the program was certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as equal to that of the U.S. program. Maryland State Inspection was and is funded 50/50 by the state and federal governments.
Since 1974 I have seen many changes in both state and federal inspection systems. Most changes have been in the form of streamlining by the federal government, elimination of over-inspection and repetitive inspections of the same product.
These changes have generally benefited the meat industry and not deprived the consumer.
However, the federal inspection service has removed some services that the consumer in Maryland has not yet lost. Under state law, we have the Wholesome Meat Act which, among other things, states generally that all livestock slaughtered for food in M.D.A.-inspected butcher shops shall be inspected.
That means that when a farmer brings a steer or hog to a Maryland-inspected shop, the animal is inspected before it is slaughtered, after it is slaughtered and during further processing of the meat.
On April 1 this will stop. When Maryland gives up its inspection program, the only meat that will be inspected will be that offered for sale by the individual butcher shops. All else will be uninspected and will have to be marked "Not For Sale."
No longer will one be able to buy a beef, sheep or hog from a farmer or friend and have it processed under inspection. USDA inspects no custom products. The fine service of the local butcher shops will continue, but inspection at some will end as we know it.
I believe that USDA inspection is good. I carry a federal license, as do many of my co-workers, and am assigned to inspect a USDA establishment in Frederick County. I just don't feel that it is enough for Carroll, Frederick, Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties.
I don't know for sure what effect the change to USDA inspection will have on the fund-raising efforts of our local volunteer fire companies, but I do strongly suspect that the days of country butchering meat sales are numbered.
The state has a $423 million budget shortfall that needs to be addressed. But ending Maryland meat inspection, which costs less than $1 million, is like attacking an elephant with a fly swatter.
To me, postponing a couple of stadiums in Baltimore and a professional golf course near Cumberland makes more sense.
Charles D. Kerr.