Editor: Your call for Health Secretary Adele Wilzack's resignation is timely and correct.
If the misappropriations that have come to light are sufficient justification for her to fire high-ranking staff members, then surely she should realize the gravity of her lack of attention to the management of a vital agency, particularly in these times of fiscal constraints and unmet needs.
However, let's not sugarcoat her motivation. Her resignation will not be a favor to the governor (who should accept the resignation he routinely requested of her two months ago). It will be a favor to the state's taxpayers.
It will also offer some assurance that, notwithstanding transportation and stadium overruns, the governor is concerned about the proper use of state funds.
Or is this just part of the cost of "do it now"?
John Q. Kinlein.
Editor: This letter is in response to Richard O'Mara's Dec. 18 "Fear of Food" piece.
Mr. O'Mara is obviously unacquainted with chickens that are not the victims of modern factory farming. Chickens thato are allowed to live a natural life, with sunshine, freedom, companions and space to roam do not exhibit cannibalistic traits and are far from stupid. It is only the horrible conditions of life on a factory farm which bring out neurotic behavior. Even humans have been known to become cannibals when subjected to terrible stress.
I have had a rooster for a pet for almost four years. He has the run of the house, the opportunity to be outside when the weather is good and the companionship of a dog, cat and humans. He is about as smart as the dog and, in some ways, smarter. He knows his name, comes when called, is toilet trained and even tries to play the guitar and piano when he sees people playing. He has great territorial sense and, when left outside, will not even go near the road but stays on the property, even though it is not fenced.
When I learn of the details of life for a chicken on a factory farm, I am overcome with sadness. It is unspeakably cruel for humans to torture these gentle, helpless creatures. Mr. O'Mara further compounds this cruelty by unfairly characterizing chickens as stupid. In my opinion, he is the stupid one, writing about a subject of which he knows nothing.
Great Neck, N.Y.
Editor: Whether the mayor's redistricting plan for the city is self-serving or not, it will almost certainly do nothing to energize the City Council with any new blood or bring it closer to the people it is supposed to represent. Mere tinkering with the existing gerrymander practically guarantees the mayor a more pliant council and an apathetic citizenry at the very time when the city desperately needs precisely the opposite: broader civic participation, greater political debate and ferment and more real grass-roots consensus-building.
One can only hope that once Mayor Schmoke is re-elected, he will perhaps feel secure enough politically to propose some really meaningful electoral reforms, to include more compact single-member councilmanic districts represented by individuals who truly answer to and live in the neighborhoods they serve.
If the city is to move beyond its current malaise, the city's legislature is as good a place as any to start. Shouldn't democracy, after all, start from the bottom up and flourish as much locally as it does elsewhere?
No Oil Wars
Editor: Must we fight wars for oil?
Most of us, and our children, will be alive when the oil-age comes to an end, when known reserves of oil are mostly gone in 30-40 years. Instead of fighting wars for the dwindling reserves, can we develop solar power and other renewable energy sources to replace the oil we burn so rapidly? Each year about 25 barrels of oil are consumed per person in the United States, the highest consumption rate in the world. Even so, if we covered an area equal to our roof tops with solar panels, we could collect far more than this amount of solar energy. Put another way, an area on the order of 150 miles square, a small dot on the globe, could collect more solar power than the entire worldwide consumption of oil power.
To manufacture and install solar collectors -- and devise ways for storing and distributing this power -- will cost billions of dollars. But so will war. The sooner we shift our goals away from oil, and war, the sooner we will develop solar power, wind-power and other sources of renewable energy that do not pollute our air, accelerate the greenhouse effect or contaminate our ground water and oceans.
Solar power is abundantly available to every nation on earth. It is renewable sources of energy, not oil, that will empower the new world order.
Richard A. Cone.
The writer is a professor of biophysics at Johns Hopkins University.
Editor: I find it disgusting that the Palestinians have chosen t side with Saddam Hussein.
First of all, they endanger their host country, Jordan, which borders on Iraq and could be President Hussein's next victim.
Second, they insult the United States, which is shouldering the burden of fighting Hussein. While our boys may be dying in the Persian Gulf, their boys are burning U.S. flags in Amman. Fighting Hussein should be up to the Arabs, but since America is doing the job for them, the least they could give us is unlimited moral support.
Third, their friendship with Mr. Hussein is an affront to the world community, which is uncharacteristically united against Hussein. Since they have lived off the largess of United Nations relief agencies for 42 years, they should certainly support the U.N. resolution demanding Hussein's withdrawal from Kuwait.
If the Palestinian Arabs expect to be accepted as responsible members of the international community, they have no business siding with a cruel dictator who gassed his own citizens and used foreign children as human shields.
Jeffrey P. Jarosz.
Editor: The carnage in Lithuania was an all-out act o aggression. How can Washington support a government in Moscow that forcibly suppresses a democratically elected government in Lithuania?
President Mikhail Gorbachev, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has not condemned this brutal act. He has not ordered his troops out of Lithuania, but has sent them to Latvia. Is Estonia next?
It is time that the United States suspend economic aid and urge our allies to do the same. Mr. Gorbachev's actions in Lithuania are unworthy of our support.
We've heard the cries of the people of Kuwait and answered their pleas. Please also hear the same cries of the Lithuanians.
Joan M. Smith.
ZTCAH: Small States
Editor: The Lithuanian desire for the freedoms of democrac are laudable.
But its withdrawal from the Soviet Union, to set up an "independent democratic state," is as senseless and illogical as South Carolina withdrawing from the United States to adopt another form of government, maybe "independent democratic socialism."
Both Lithuania and South Carolina (selected for its similarity) have populations of about 4 million and an area of about 30,000 square miles. Both were integrated into their current unions without consent, Lithuania in 1940 and South Carolina in 1864.
South Carolinians could say they want to run their own show: "We do not want to support a giant military machine and a government with far more people, regulations and waste than necessary. We will build our own roads, take care of our people and trade with other nations without restraint." That sounds good, but is illogical.
History shows that success for people comes with free market systems and cooperation with neighbors. The European Community is an example, as well as the United States, Canada and the Commonwealth nations. This brings freedoms, and requires freedoms.
By contrast, the wholesale establishment of small independent countries in Africa, starting in the 1950's and resulting in 38 separate countries, has been disastrous. Rather than cooperation that leads to economic development and freedoms, has largely led to internal and inter-country conflict.
Lithuania, rather than seceding from the U.S.S.R., should attempt to lead the way in establishing the free market system that is afoot in the Soviet Union today. That will require and bring the freedoms desired.
South Carolina and all other states should stay where they are and work to improve the United States.