Tough TimesEditor: Much has been made recently...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Tough Times

Editor: Much has been made recently about the 1991 graduating class and the relatively small job market in which they find themselves. A little over 10 years ago, the class of 1980 found itself not just in a tight job market but in one that was actually shrinking and quickly.

Companies, organizations and government agencies not only were not hiring, they were laying off workers and using attrition to decrease their size.

I remember because I was a 1980 college graduate. Unemployment was running about 15 percent in my home state of Wisconsin (8-10 percent nationally) and inflation was hovering around 18 percent. The minimum wage was $2.35 per hour.

One of the first jobs I got out of college was at a janitorial service at night so I could "pound the pavement" during the day. At this service there were at least three other individuals in my predicament. Some had master's degrees.

In my travels from office to office looking for work, I found that the old requirement of having a bachelor's degree was not not enough.

The entire nation was suffering from what was euphemistically called "stagflation," the unexpected result of having high inflation and high unemployment at the same time. Our citizens were being held hostage by lunatic students in Iran, our president was suffering disgrace at home, our states were beginning to experience the effects of fewer tax payers and more tax takers, consumer and individual confidences were at all-time lows. And you think the class of 1991 has it bad?

I say this not to evoke sympathy or pity from today's graduates, but only to remind them of the horrors others have faced.

Whatever you do, do well. If it's not exactly the job you dreamed of, take it anyway and learn from it just like the courses you had to take but didn't see the reason why, or just plain didn't like. Above all, have faith in yourself, for you have done something truly aspiring. You have spent fours years being taught how to learn . . . and there is no greater gift to be had.

B. Robert Merrick.

Savage.

Gumshoes

Editor: The next session of the Maryland legislature needs to rewrite Title 13 of the Business and Professional Occupations Code, which pertains to the licensing of private detectives and detective agencies. The practice is a farce.

For instance, there is nothing in Title 13 that prevents a mentally unstable person or a convicted felon from holding a private investigator's license.

There are very few grounds under the law for the revocation of a private investigator's license.

No criminal offenses are listed in Title 13 as grounds for action against a private investigator's license.

New legislation is needed to weed out the shady characters that are licensed as private investigators, and to make it a criminal as well as a civil matter when a private investigator fabricates damaging allegations.

Most of all, since nearly all private investigators are former police officers, the licensing and regulation of private investigators needs to be taken away from the "good-old-boy" network in the Maryland State Police and put in the hands of a civilian commission.

Lamar Wadsworth.

Baltimore.

Babe Ruth Museum Expands

Editor: As the Babe Ruth Museum has been developing plans for adding a second baseball museum facility to its current operation for more than five years, it was particularly gratifying to see The Sun's endorsement of the expansion project.The museum realizes its plans are ambitious.

Endorsements like The Sun's add to the air of enthusiasm that is so essential to the success of the project.

Those long involved with the Babe Ruth Museum's expansion are of the opinion that when "we build it . . . they will come." But first we need to raise the money necessary to build it. And so, as The Sun editorial correctly pointed out, the Babe Ruth Museum is currently embarked on a $3.3 million dollar fund-raising campaign.

To meet our objective of opening the new baseball center in time for the 1993 Major League All Star Game in Baltimore, the museum needs to realize the majority of its funding by spring of 1992, or by the time the Orioles open the doors to their new ballpark one and one-half blocks from the museum.

Coupled with its "long fly-ball" proximity to the new ballpark, the Babe Ruth Birthplace and its new baseball center give the Camden Yards sports complex area the potential to be a family and community attraction of major proportion, a veritable baseball fan's mecca.

Thanks to The Sun for saying yes to baseball and saying yes to Baltimore's new Babe Ruth Birthplace and Baseball Center.

Michael L. Gibbons.

Baltimore.

The writer is executive director of the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Baseball Center.

Good Business

Editor: In his recent column,"Helping Workers With Child Care is Good Business," columnist Philip Moeller acknowledged that businesses are finding it advantageous to provide employees with Eldercare options.

As we enter the 21st century, we find that baby boomers in the work force are moving into their middle aged years. At the same time, they are faced with the responsibility of caring for older relatives, whose numbers are increasing at a rate twice that of the general public.

It has been shown that employed care-givers of the elderly are facing increased physical and emotional stress. This affects the home and the work environments.

To help assist employees with this stress and with the need for information, a number of companies have created Eldercare programs, such as care-giver fairs, support groups, seminars and workshops, information and referral services and flexible leave policies for family emergencies.

In Maryland, we are working to help promote these Eldercare initiatives. We support those companies which have already established corporate programs to help their employees and we encourage other companies to add Eldercare programs to their corporate agendas.

!Rosalie S. Abrams. Baltimore.

The writer is director of the Maryland Office on Aging.

Bring 'Trashball' Back

Editor: Baltimore, once the city of hand-scrubbed white marble steps, is filthy!

Moving through the city on major thoroughfares or small cross streets, one is struck by the tremendous amount of litter everywhere. Coupled with broken-open bags of uncollected trash, rats in the alleys, and dog excrement on the sidewalks, the city center has begun to take on a shabby appearance.

There are no doubt serious financial problems -- but the city's lack of cleanliness reflects more than that. It reflects the lack of a standard. For all his problems, the former mayor's obsessive approach to the way the city looked was important. It was a manifestation of a deeply ingrained pride in the city's physical appearance. Once seemingly silly, concepts like naming potholes and campaigns like "Trashball" became strongly symbolic and effective. This was particularly evident when viewed in the context of the mayor's vigorous involvement (to the point of browbeating) of the bureaucracy in his vision of the way things should be.

The present administration must come to understand that "programs" and empty slogans have no foundation in reality. They, in fact, only invite ridicule unless fired with the leadership necessary to make them work.

It is squarely up to Mayor Schmoke to clean up Baltimore.

$Stuart M. Christhilf III.

Baltimore.

Service First

Editor: While working at Loyola College, I have watched many out-of-town parents wait helplessly for taxi service. As a native Baltimorean, I am embarrassed by the lack of taxi service. That's right -- service.

Apparently, getting from the hotel to your destination is no problem, since there are cabs galore waiting for your business. Oh, you want to get back? -- replay Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis in "The Out of Towners."

I would suggest the city find some money for limousine service, ** instead of fare increases for taxis.

The cab companies are not making us any new friends.

Ed Nicholls.

Baltimore.

Special Needs

Editor: A recent article in The Sun focused on the struggles a Baltimore County family encountered in its quest to have their Down's Syndrome child placed in a regular school.

Our six-year-old handicapped son is currently enrolled, quite appropriately we feel, in Ridge School in Baltimore County. The Coalition for Integrated Education, by the approach it seems to be taking, puts parents like us in the unfortunate position of having to fight against it, rather than with it, even though we are both seeking the same end result.

Creating an "us vs. them" mentality is not what our kids need, it only serves to divide an already small voice in the overall clamor for educational reform. Proponents of integrated education and proponents of special schools need to become a unified force in order to effect the changes that are necessary for all kids.

Hopefully, one day our son will be ready to benefit from a less restrictive environment. If that day comes, we hope that the school systems in this state will be better prepared to provide such an environment. We would like to think that the people responsible for administering these systems are not so incompetent that this can only be achieved by closing all special education schools.

We fully support the rights of parents to have available the most appropriate educational environment for their children.

While "least restrictive" is a conceptual ideal worth striving for, it must be applied on a case-by-case basis to ensure that the environment created is the most appropriate for that child. A totally unrestricted environment is not always the best solution for children with special needs. Placing all special education children in regular schools is just as unconscionable as placing them all in special schools.

We should not destroy all that has been achieved in the last 30 years by overreacting to the concerns of a few parents. Yes, the placement of every child needs to be scrutinized, but don't cut off the best educational alternative for some children in order to satisfy the needs of others.

*Robert and Lorraine Wunder. Baltimore.

Royalty

Editor: I admire the British and London is a favorite city. Though I do not stand in awe of the royal family, I thought Roger Simon's column May 12 was in exceedingly poor taste.

But we have come to expect that of Simon. At least he admires Hilda Mae Snoops and Donald Schaefer.

Mike Eaton.

Westminster.

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