Cut Aid to Israel
Editor: "Why Israel Shouldn't Be Anyone's Charity Case" by the economics journalist Joel Bainerman is an excellent article (Opinion * Commentary, July 10).
The government should not sanction exclusive licenses and monoply of ownership of industry or services and thus increase their control and the government's.
Why should Israelis pay more than other Western nationals for goods and services?
Free enterprise and competition generally result in improved quality and lower prices.
Israeli initiative and ingenuity, without government control, would result in economic independence and better government.
Blanche Cohen Sachs.
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Editor: The July 10 article by Joel Bainerman, an Israeli, headlined "Why Israel Shouldn't Be Anyone's Charity Case" is the most refreshing piece of writing to appear in your paper in a while. It should be read by every member of Congress.
Had any non-Jew written the same piece, he would have been immediately branded as anti-Semitic even though speaking the truth. This writer has felt that for much too long we have been overly and unnecessarily generous in our aid to Israel.
It is high time that Congress, and the president as well, awaken to the facts. All the money we give serves only to maintain an intransigent government which, in turn, contributes to the stalemate of the peace process in the Middle East.
If the billions in aid were cut one-half, the remaining half could be used to provide housing and other amenities for needy Americans instead of promoting housing developments on the West Bank and the Golan Heights. That development is just a form of "Lebensraum" [desire for more territory] which is going to get out of hand just as it did in Europe in the 1930s.
To the extent that our subsidies and grants to Israel are reduced, that nation will, of necessity, be required to divert military spending to domestic needs. If my understanding is correct, the U.S. has a treaty committing this country to aid Israel in the event of attack. We did it for Kuwait. Therefore, the excessive military spending is based on exaggerated needs and avoids the
realities of domestic problems in that nation.
Richard L. Lelonek.
Editor: The 40-hour work week has been ordered for state employees under the guise of increasing productivity. In economic theory, productivity is defined as output per hour worked, i.e. total output divided by hours worked.
The 40-hour work week will increase the denominator in this equation. If the numerator (total output) is held constant, increasing the number of hours worked will reduce productivity.
Now consider that with a state working force demoralized by absence of any sort of pay increase, merit or otherwise, output per hour will likely fall. Increasing hours without compensation will multiply this reduction in productivity. No wonder state employees do not see the benefit of the additional hours.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer says the alternative to the 40-hour week is to layoff 4,000 state employees. Layoffs are a bitter pill, but will better accomplish the savings needed.
The state is facing a fiscal situation that requires, in the current jargon, "down-sizing or right-sizing." Certainly the number of lower paid classified positions has increased and may need trimming.
A far greater trend in Maryland state hiring has been to make positions unclassified and to hire more middle managers, usually at higher pay levels. As private business discovered in the early 1980s, the state government has grown fat in the middle.
The number of layers need to be reduced and each layer trimmed. I know of one situation where there are eight supervisors for nine employees.
Additionally, open positions need to be broadly advertised with sufficient time for as many qualified applicants as possible to respond and to be considered. Too often, these unclassified, high paying positions are advertised one time, on a Monday, with a very short response time, because the position is effectively already filled.
Maryland is far more careful in how equipment is purchased than in how positions are filled, yet personnel costs are the greater portion of the state budget.
Yes, a state job is a great job with very good benefits, but that is not really the issue.
Time = Money
Editor: The misrepresentation of the 40-hour week issue in your July 10 editorial, "Keeping 'Schaefer Time,' " is intolerable.
Who among any group or 40-hour week workers in government or industry would gladly work an extra 4 1/2 hours per week free? How about taking an outright 12 percent cut in your hourly wage?
The state classified employees who are currently working a 35 1/2 -hour work week are not lazy complainers, whining about the prospect of an eight-hour day. They are essential contributors to the state, regular people with names and faces who are now told that they will work additional hours for free. The extra hours are not the issue; uncompensated hours are.
This follows quickly behind several other measures mandated by the governor that affect salaries of state classified employees: elimination of step increases, elimination of cost-of-living increases, and a decrease in the state's portion of health care coverage costs.
All of this comes in a year when the governor himself gets a 41 percent pay increase.
Let's examine your editorial:
* "It should save the state money (perhaps as much as $180 million a year)." Bona fide estimates of savings in overtime costs reflect a number closer to $10 million, contrary to the governor's inflated imagination.
* "It should improve productivity." A segment of workers is now targeted to shoulder the burden of the state's budget problems by accepting an inequitable cut in pay which does not affect any other employees. How's that for a morale or productivity booster?
* "Some now put in 35 1/2 hours while others work 40 hours, with no difference in pay." Some workers accepted 40-hour positions with a set annual salary. Others accepted 35 1/2 -hour positions with a set annual salary. Between these groups is a difference in pay which was a part of the initial terms of employment. Now the difference will be that one group gets paid for 40 hours per week while the other group works 40 hours and gets paid for 35 1/2 .
* "Complaints should subside. After all, most of America's work force operates on a 40-hour work week and has managed to adjust." Most of America's work force gets paid for a 40-hour work week.
And as for morale, an employee will have to justify to him/herself continuing to work for, and to be dedicated to, an employer which has so blatantly devalued him/her.
Bigger than this question in my mind is just exactly how a reputable newspaper can so flagrantly misrepresent the issue and misinform the public. I didn't know that Gov. William Donald Schaefer owned The Sun.
Marilyn L. McGhee.
The Plot Thins
Editor: The quality of the research that went into Edward Roeder's July 5 Opinion Commentary article, "The October Surprise and the Democrats," is reflected in his statement that Sen. George Mitchell appointed Sen. Daniel Inouye to the committee that investigated the Iran-contra affair.
Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who was the Democratic leader in the Senate at that time, appointed Senator Inouye to the investigating committee. So much for Mr. Roeder's insinuation that pro-Israeli PACs gave generously to Senators Mitchell and Inouye in their 1988 re-election campaigns as a reward for their cooperation in messing up the investigation.
Mr. Roeder thinks Congress should investigate the allegations that the Reagan campaign in 1980 persuaded Iran to delay the release of hostages till after the election, but he fears pro-Israeli money will be used to spoil the probe.
There is no evidence to support the allegations. There is a lot of evidence that the critics are rich in imagination and poor in credibility.
They first alleged that the key meetings between the Iranians and the Reagan people were in Paris on Oct. 19-20, 1980. George Bush, the late William Casey, Richard Allen and Donald Gregg were alleged to have attended.
It was shown that they were all elsewhere at the time, and so the focus was switched to Madrid, where Casey and two other Americans, one a senior CIA official, allegedly met the Iranians on July 27-29.
It was reported that Casey's schedule was mysteriously blank for July 27-29 and that he was abroad. It soon was learned that Casey was in London on July 28-29 at a conference on the history of World War II.
It was even provided with a photo showing Casey at the conference and a copy of the program showing that he gave a talk. Casey's absence from Washington was no mystery.
Fire the Senate!
Editor: The U.S. Senate has voted itself a pay raise: $23,000 a year for each member.
This pay raise is voted in a country that is not paying for itself, a country in which the majority of workers earn less than $23,000 a year to support their families.
This pay raise is voted in the only developed country in the world served by Save the Children, an organization to help the starving.
This pay raise is voted on the backs of the homeless, the uninsured, the unemployed and all for whom there are no longer federal programs due to "lack of funds."
If this country were a corporation, its executives would not be getting a pay raise. They'd be getting fired.
Margaret L. Steiner.