No Sympathy Here
Editor: I'm not sure if the front-page story about Rose Fletcher was to make the public sympathetic to unwed mothers in the Murphy Homes or to show how irresponsible they are. Rose Fletcher worries about what she is going to feed her three children but she buys them a $100 Nintendo game and a $150 Barbie car. Her home has a VCR, microwave and color TV in the kitchen. This does not sound poor to me.
My son and daughter-in-law both work and their children do not have a Nintendo. They use their money to pay bills and buy food; yet they love their children, too. People have to learn to be responsible for the choices they make. Ms. Fletcher's home did look very neat and clean, though. My parents raised 10 children, and I'm sure they worried where the next meal was coming from many times; but you can be sure they bought food before we got toys.
It's the same story on TV around Thanksgiving, when you see people in line for food and they are dressed in leather coats and other expensive clothing. Give me a break.
Editor: Shame on this flag and yellow-ribbon waving nation that claims to have been fighting in the Persian Gulf for higher moral causes, namely for freedom.
Our victory has been marred by our administration's return to foreign policy as usual: policy that is amoral, self-serving and quite willing to tolerate, aid and abet a "Hitler" as long as he doesn't interfere with our oil supply and our economic dominance.
In the meanwhile, American troops sit by watching the defeat and slaughter of the brave Kurd people who have dared to heed President Bush's challenge to rid their country of its dictator. Should these freedom fighters have counted on a nation which ignored Saddam Hussein's crimes against them before the war to have had a profound moral change of heart after the war? Their error was in doing just that, and shame on our government for its breach of trust.
Editor: I read your April 10 editorial, "Rebuilding Natural Ecosystems," with great interest. Ecological restoration is a very challenging endeavor with great promise and potential. It is also a complex new field for multidisciplinary applied science and one in which much is learned from mistakes and successes.
Time, budgetary constraints and the Band-Aid approach to ecological restoration are often the greatest hindrances to restoration project success. Ideally, ecological restoration projects should be a component of a systems approach to land stewardship such as the long-term planning and management of watersheds.
The Chesapeake Bay region is in the forefront of ecological restoration along with Florida, California and several of the prairie states. A number of stream and wetland restoration projects have been completed or are under way in the bay region.
The Kenilworth Marsh restoration project in Washington is a project that is part of the Washington Metropolitan Council of Government's long-term management and restoration plan for the Anacostia River watershed. Kenilworth Marsh is a 50-acre remnant of the once extensive freshwater tidal marshes of the lower Anacostia. The restoration project is developing techniques to revegetate portions of the marsh that once supported tidal, emergent marshes.
Ecological restoration in conjunction with sound land management and planning can preserve and enhance our dwindling natural resources and play a significant role in maintaining the historically rich natural beauty and quality of life in the Chesapeake region.
L. Reed Huppman.
Scuttling the Environment
Editor: During this year's Maryland General Assembly session, an important bill prescribing tougher, California emissions standards for cars in Maryland was unjustly scuttled in committee by Sen. Walter M. Baker, D-Cecil. With an increasing amount of cars registered and miles traveled in Maryland, the magnitude of this legislation was great.
More than 50 percent of all toxic gases in our cities come from automobile emissions. Twenty pounds of carbon dioxide are released for every gallon of gas burned.
Car emissions are a major source of the gases depleting our ozone layer, which the EPA has said is being destroyed twice as fast as previously thought, and contribute to the "greenhouse effect." Also, the enormous amount of nitrates and other gases spewed from tailpipes fall back to our region as acid rain and pollute our treasured Chesapeake Bay. The emissions bill was heard before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee chaired by Senator Baker. Mr. Baker stated he would only call for a vote on the measure if he had enough votes to kill it. Furthermore, he said that if this bill had any chance, "I'll just stick it in my desk drawer," thus prohibiting the rest of the committee the democratic right to vote on this legislation. Lobbyists said the committee was close (5-5) to favoring the bill. Mr. Baker's action was a gross misuse of authority. There are 47 senatorial districts in Maryland and one man representing one district killed a bill affecting all Marylanders. We shall continue to suffer from poor air and water quality caused by automobile emissions until Mr. Baker's attitude toward democracy and the environment change.
Raymond P. Bahr.
Editor: In his April 3 essay, "The Difference Between Animals and Us," Jon Margolis asserts that chickens are stupid and despicable creatures who do not form harmonious communities but engage in senseless violence instead. This claim is mistaken. Once chickens have worked out their social order they are highly compatible.
Without irony an Eighteenth Century proverb describes a cheerful gathering of people as "social as chickens in a coop." If allowed to grow up in successive generations unconfined, chickens show little evidence of the so-called "peck order." Older birds protectively dominate younger ones, who seldom contest this arrangement. Since they find their own food and don't have to compete at a common feeder, there is little fighting but much quietly contented clucking among the flock. Sparring is usually of a playful, ritual character rather than an aggressive struggle for power.
As a keeper of free-ranging companion chickens, I can add my testimony to the extensive literature, going back to antiquity, describing the sociability and, yes, the intelligence of chickens. It is when chickens are crowded, confined and mutilated, as they are in modern chicken factory farming operations, that distempered behavior erupts.
If Mr. Margolis wonders why there is an animal rights movement, let him look to his own unfriendly attitude toward animals for the reason.
The writer is president of United Poultry Concerns Inc.
Editor: I have been amazed at the progress of recycling in Baltimore City and Baltimore County over the past year.
There are now some 60 places where people can go to recycle. These drop-off recycling centers are commercial, community and government-run.
The city is already providing curbside recycling collection for lTC cans, glass and plastic bottles, mixed paper, cardboard and newspaper to 20,000 households.
The city plans to offer curbside to the entire city, phasing it in for different areas over the next two or three years. The county is also doing a pilot curbside collection program, and hopefully will also decide to provide curbside at least in the heavily populated areas. My neighborhood, Charles Village, is supposed to get curbside by the end of this year.
The city and county recycling offices have done a tremendous job. In particular, Steve Chidsey, the city's recycling coordinator, has brought the dream of Baltimore being the city that recycles much closer to reality.
The Sun has also done a good job of covering recycling. The majority of citizens still do not know how easy recycling is, how good it is for the environment, how it will save property taxes on disposal costs in the long run, and how it can act as a positive catalyst to give people the confidence that we can make other changes to improve our environment.
The Sun's power to educate the public on recycling and give continual reinforcement is essential if people are to make recycling as much a habit as throwing refuse away is now.