Competition, not caps, will lower rates
In their desperation to lower premiums, legislators have implemented damage caps on non-economic recovery as a quick-fix solution. Maryland is one of 13 states to place legal limits on the amount people can recover.
In 1989 a Baltimore County Circuit Court judge refused to reduce a jury award of $1.8 million to the victim of a head-on collision in order to comply with the cap. He declared the cap unconstitutional because it disproportionately affected the ability of seriously injured people to recover damages. It is grossly unfair to slap an arbitrary dollar limit on people who sustain profound, lasting injuries that handicap them tragically and force them and their families to endure a lifetime of hardship.
Presently the Circuit Court's decision is being reviewed by the Maryland Court of Appeals, which could reverse the lower court on the constitutionality of the cap on the grounds there was a "rational basis" for it - the belief that a cap would reduce insurance premiums.
Yet it is competition, not caps, that brings down insurance rates. Despite the passage of the cap and other laws limiting medical malpractice liability in 1986 and 1987, Med Mutual, which insures most of the state's doctors, asked for a 10 percent rate increase. The insurer told an outraged legislature that had the cap not been enacted, it would have needed a 25 percent hike.
Damage award caps have an illusionary quick fix appeal. The Court of Appeals could rule such caps are constitutional. But even if they are constitutional, they are not and never will be just.
The writer is a state senator from the 9th District and a lawyer. F
At first reading, Keith Britt's July 5 letter looked good. Let the Japanese invest in projects like Worldbridge in Essex. "Essex needs all the help it can get."
On second reading, however, images of political action committees made in Japan come to mind. PACs buy politicians on the right and on the left throughout America. One example is the way Israeli-American PACs control American foreign and domestic policies. PAC money helps the politician to buy slick advertising and solicit the voters like a prostitute on the street. Reagan's (and Bush's) Lee Atwater proved that votes can be bought.
Herbert J. Scism
On July 8, Other Voices published a poem by Donna Nesbitt titled "Gilbert Byron." It was a memorial to him following his death, and I would like her to know that another of Byron's fans appreciates the beauty of this small verse ' and thanks her.
Jean C. Bryson
See and be seen
I wish to comment on the letter "Police on foot" (Forum, July 15). I heartily agree with the opinions of a retired Baltimore police sergeant.
The Baltimore City Council must give top priority to putting officers back to patrolling the streets - not in cars, but on foot, night and day.
We must put the fear of the law on streets riddled by dope pushers, dope buyers, rapists, thieves, etc.
Put officers up front on the streets where they can see and be seen. It can be a great help.
Since Marylanders are putting up over $200 million for a new stadium, Governor Schaefer and Eli Jacobs should select a name that encompasses the spirit of the entire Old Line State.
I propose "Chesapeake Yards," because everyone living in Maryland has reaped directly or indirectly the treasures of the Chesapeake Bay.
Further, instead of buying license plates or checking that little box at tax time, a 5-cent "donation" could be charged to every ticket sale to help save the bay. That way, at a time when baseball has become synonymous with profit and gain, Marylanders and our environment could also clean up.
Jenny L. Heinbaugh
Regardless of whether Governor Schaefer and Hilda Mae Snoops spent publicly or privately raised money to repair the governor's mansion, the building had not been repaired for many years. The mansion was in need of repair, and it got the proper attention.
The historic building won't need much repair in the future, and even if it does it won't be at any great cost. Annapolis has many historic buildings, and people should be happy that this one was preserved in time.
Behind the times
I was interested to read Helen Delich Bentley's comment that, "every fair-minded person supports the basic intent of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964" in explaining why she voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (Other Voices, July 22). In a quote on the opposite page, George Bush was saying of the same 1964 act that it "violates the constitutional rights of all people."
Of course, Mr. Bush said that 27 years ago; I suspect that today he would agree with Ms. Bentley. And 27 years from now Ms. Bentley's Republican successor will praise the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
That's the trouble with Republican politicians: They damn all Democratic progressive social steps until the value of those steps is seen a quarter-century later.
I suspect that if Mr. Bush and Ms. Bentley had been in Congress in the 1930s, they would have fought Social Security tooth and nail, as most Republican politicians did - for the same reason Ms. Bentley now gives: It hampers Big Business.
John C. Chamberlain