Fairness in Life and Medicine
Editor: The Opinion * Commentary article by Dr. Jane M. Orient suggests that physicians cannot make a comfortable living and that future cuts in Medicare bode ill for their remuneration.
Of course, I always assumed that the practice of medicine was mainly for the care and health of the population and was not to be compared with "plumbers, hairdressers and small businessmen." And what irks me is the cliche about "inflation and four years of medical school and three or more years of residency" to justify the high earnings of most doctors. Certainly no one coerced medical education and practice on the ones who chose this profession.
Dr. Orient uses scare tactics to rebut the efforts of "bureaucrats" to reduce the costs of health care. Perhaps the cuts in reimbursement are not fair. But "life is not fair," as she says so well.
Editor: Readers of Randi Henderson's fair Aug. 21 article, Campaign Against Smut," might have entirely missed the point of our petition drive against Giant Food. We are not asking Giant to remove any magazines or tabloids from its store. We are simply asking it to relocate offensive magazines and tabloids, moving them away from the check-out counters to the store's general magazine rack.
This clearly has nothing to do with "censorship" or "free speech," nor are we "trying to take away others' freedom to read what they want." In fact, Stuart Comstock-Gay, director of Maryland's ACLU, who used the word "censorship" when asked for his opinion by The Sun, informed me in a phone conversation that he was "glad to hear" we were not asking Giant to actually remove the publications in question.
Let Giant sell what it chooses to sell and let the consumers buy what they choose to buy. But Giant shouldn't violate the freedom of choice of thousands of others -- the choice to go grocery shopping without having our families assaulted by seductively clothed Cosmopolitan cover girls with suggestive cover lines like "Sensual Treats to Enjoy Alone" displayed prominently throughout the front of the store.
This is not simply an issue among "fundamentalist religious" groups (as the ACLU would have it). Signers of our petitions include both the non-religious as well as the religiously non-fundamentalist. The fact that Giant had taken steps to remove tabloids from the "no-candy" check-out aisle before we mounted our petition drive illustrates just how many consumers were --and are --offended.
Michael L. Brown.
Editor: Many urban parents feel no duty to assume responsibility for their own children. The city is supposed to provide all for these children. The police are to be everywhere at all times to protect them. The schools are to baby-sit, educate and guarantee a great job. These presumptive parents should assume a much larger chunk of the responsibility pie.
Consider some recent tragedies involving poorly supervised kids:
The child who becomes a drug dealer and brags about it. His mother had noticed he was staying out later and later, but what did she do to try to halt it?
A young boy riding his bike after 10 p.m. is shot and killed. He was on a poorly lit street, so it must have been the city's fault for not replacing lights broken out by the residents.
The six-year-old out at 10:40 p.m. shot and killed.
Did any of these parents even consider how dangerous it is to be out at night in the city's shooting galleries? And as for the heat in the tenements -- I'd rather have my child sweating with me inside and safe rather than bleeding and dying alone on the "cooler" streets.
Labor Day Paradox
Editor: Today is Labor Day. Before you jump in your Toyota or Nissan and rush off to the sales -- there's a good buy on shoes made in Mexico or slacks imported from Korea -- give a thought to your parodoxical actions.
This is, as any encyclopedia will tell you, "a legal holiday to honor labor." Forget Eugene V. Debs or John L. Lewis or the early struggles of "the American Labor Movement." What about the increasing balance of payments problem, our drift from a creditor to a debtor nation, our movement from a production to a service economy and the condition of our savings institutions?
Those of us who remember the Great Depression of the 1930s see an ominous future if we do not mend our ways. Must America always be faced with a crisis before we act?
J. Bernard Hihn.
Editor: I am shocked and outraged that the redistricting committee would abolish the 2nd Congressional District located in Baltimore County. It has been one of the most effectively represented districts in the 20 years I have lived in Baltimore County.
Instead of being minutes away from my congressional representative, if the plan holds up, my congressional representative will be located on the Eastern Shore.
I cherish having my representative in the House of Representatives centered in the district and not in Anne Arundel County, Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore or other remote area.
W. Michael Seganish.
Editor: Your feature "Vacation from Illness" by Alyssa Gabbay (Aug. 13), provided a real service to your readers. The travel medicine clinics at Johns Hopkins, Maryland and Mercy hospitals can provide the shots and advice that will help protect international travelers from disease.
However, it is important to stress the fact that the main cause of deaths of Americans overseas is not malaria, dysentery or tropical disease, but injuries.
The advice for avoiding injuries overseas is much the same for avoiding injuries in America: Don't fly in non-scheduled, non-airline planes, always wear a motorcycle helmet (or safer still, don't use a motorcycle). The Peace Corps had so many serious injuries and deaths of volunteers riding motorcycles that failure to wear a motorcycle helmet is now a ground for immediate expulsion from the Peace Corps.
Don't swim in unfamiliar waters. A colleague of mine, a good swimmer, nearly drowned in an unexpected current off the coast of Sumatra. Don't ride in small taxis or pedi-cabs. The increased safety of taking a large taxi or rental car is well worth the slight increase in cost.
Awareness of the hazards of injuries overseas in unfamiliar surroundings may prevent your readers from becoming part of the 5,000 Americans who die overseas every year.
Timothy D. Baker, M.D.
The writer is a professor in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Redistricting: Rape or Mutual Consent?
Editor: The fury of The Sun's editorials over the "rape of Baltimore County" is a knee-jerk reaction to the violation of boundaries fashioned centuries ago with reference to factors unrelated to modern legislative representation.
If there are political subdivisions in the country with less homogeneity than in Baltimore County, it would be difficult to find them. Sprawling over 610 square miles, the county extends from the rural agricultural areas on the Pennsylvania border to the industrial concentrations in Dundalk and Essex, to the suburban bedroom communities abutting the city.
To fulminate over the lack of cohesive representation for this heterogeneous group is to belie one's understanding of its diversity. Any statewide plan that satisfies the constitutional mandate of one-man-one-vote will inevitably Balkanize the county borders.
One does not need access to detailed demographic studies to say that the farmers of Hereford may have more in common with the farmers of the Eastern Shore than with the steelworkers of Sparrows Point. On the other hand, the voters of Cockeysville have little in common with those in Dorchester County, and vice versa.
Those who criticize state Sen. Mike Miller's plan should produce one of their own, one which would achieve comparable -- or better -- social compatibility and still comply with the constitutional mandate of population parity. It will not be easy.
Rep. Helen Bentley adds to the cacophony by screaming that she is being gerrymandered. She forgets that not long ago the fortunes of the Republican Party in the Second District were greatly strengthened by the dissection of the liberal vote of the Pikesville area, much to the rage of Rep. Clarence Long. What was then sauce for the goose may now be sauce for the gander.
Arthur W. Machen Jr.
Editor: The redistricting plan proposed by the Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee has been quite appropriately labeled "the rape of Baltimore County." In a Democratic power-play to preserve certain incumbent congressional seats, the proposal would rob 240,638 registered Democrats in Baltimore County of their right to county representation in the U. S. Congress.
I am astounded that this redistricting plan, which splinters the third largest county in Maryland into five congressional districts that are unlikely to elect a Baltimore countian, has been called "the people's plan" by a committee spokesman. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The voice of Lutherville and Timonium will be muffled by the rural Eastern Shore. The voice of Dundalk and Essex will be overwhelmed in a district dominated by Anne Arundel County.
Holbrook and Randallstown will be engulfed by an inner-city district. And the voice of Hunt Valley and Monkton will be drowned out in a congressional district composed of all the Western Maryland counties.
As for the 12th Legislative District, which I represent in the Maryland Senate, the shifting of precincts leaves 38 percent of the district in an inner-city congressional district.
I have no doubt that the courts will reject the plan for the sham it is. There is no way that a plan which disenfranchises one million people can meet constitutional standards.