It's Greed, Not Pet HealthEditor: I am...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

It's Greed, Not Pet Health

Editor: I am writing in reference to the Sept. 11 article, "Veterinarians Fear Misuse of Over-the-Counter Vaccines, Syringes."

The Safeway chain is to be applauded for its decision to offer over-the-counter medicines for animals to the public. I think this will result in many pets and domestic animals getting vaccinated, which weren't before.

I found the comments of Ray Thompson, executive director of the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, on this tempest in a teapot to be particularly smug, misleading and self-serving. Mr. Thompson notes that he's had 200 calls from his organization's members (veterinarians) protesting Safeway's move. But let's face it: these vets aren't worried about the health of pets. What prompted them to pick up their phones and raise objections was greed: the possibility that the exorbitant fees that they now charge for vaccinating animals might be undercut.

All the various (far-fetched) objections Mr. Thompson makes notwithstanding, that's what it all boils down to.

The fact is, particularly in these hard economic times, that many people with pets don't get them vaccinated, because as I've found out myself, it's gotten to where it often costs more to take a cat or dog to a veterinarian than it does to take your son or daughter to the dentist or doctor.

Veterinarians have, quite simply, priced themselves out of the range of many Americans. And now they're complaining because the public is being offered a chance provide health care to their pets at more realistic and affordable prices.

Robert Allen.

Baltimore.

Dismal Sight

Editor: I fully agree with Art Kutcher's Sept. 8 letter, "Closing of Downtown Window." The new IBM high rise is a very dismal sight. However, since it is not finished, perhaps they have a surprise in store for the people of Maryland. My wife and I visit Harborplace several time a week, and we are watching the progress of this building.

We note that on top of this building there is a patch-work of inter-mingling steel beams. We assume that these beams are going to support something of real beauty to offset the ugliness of the structure below.

I'm sure the architect would not risk his reputation by designing a building that looks as though it has been left unfinished. They don't give awards for that.

Walter E. Boyd Jr.

Lutherville.

Olesker's Crusade

Editor: I was saddened to see Michael Olesker (Sept. 17) use the foul murder of Charles "Eddie" Scheuerman to continue his attacks on the Second Amendment. His insinuation that Mr. Scheuerman reaped what he sowed was inexcusable.

The growing and persistent unemployment and failure of society to provide a meaningful existence to an increasing number of its citizens will provide the basis for violent crime long after the common citizens are stripped of their firearms.

Mr. Olesker quotes a federal agent stating that the 9mm semiautomatic handgun is favored among criminals. It is also favored among homeowners and police due to its superior stopping power, easy re-load and accuracy. Citizens in this country have the right to bear arms. Criminals will get guns in a criminal fashion regardless of laws which deprive citizens of their constitutional rights. Maryland's hand-gun control bill passed two years ago didn't do anything but make guns more valuable to criminals.

Mr. Olesker's concern is transparent when one realizes he is only interested in taking guns from the average citizen. He never criticizes the U.S. government (the largest gun runner in the world) or the Israeli government (which makes the Uzi that Olesker whines about).

Where is Mr. Olesker's crusade against automobiles? They kill far more than guns. When has he called for a prohibition against alcohol, which is much more a causal agent in violent and criminal behavior than firearms?

Has Mr. Olesker ever called 911 on a Saturday night? I have and have been told that unless it is a gun- or knife-related incident to call back later. If Mr. Olesker has his way, the honest citizen will be the only one without a gun.

James Fite.

Baltimore.

The Differences

Editor: In his article fantasizing Israel as the 51st state (Sept. 16), scattering questionable statistics and misleading assumptions like land-mines, it is interesting that Richard Reeves compares Israel to Louisiana, a state with comparable-size population.

A few differences between Israel and Louisiana should be noted.

Israel is not a place where a former Ku Klux Klan chief could amass enough votes to come close to election as senator.

Louisiana is not a state surrounded by several hundred million enemies sworn to destroy it, most of whom are still technically at war against it and refusing to end their wars as a condition for negotiating differences.

Louisiana has not been murderously attacked by these enemies in five wars and many terrorist raids in the past 43 years.

Scud missiles did not come screaming into Louisiana cities recently, killing and maiming its peaceful citizens in their homes while people in neighboring states danced and cheered at the destruction and carnage.

If Louisiana were attacked, it would be defended by Americans from all 50 states. No American has ever been asked to fight for Israel, or ever will be.

Louisiana is not the only democracy in the United States as Israel is in the disunited Middle East, surrounded by feudal monarchies, autocracies and butchering dictatorships (and therefore deserving of support from the leading nation of the free world).

Louisiana is not the haven for a people oppressed and persecuted for millenniums, ignored in recent memory while a third of its number was being slaughtered.

Louisiana is not the world's oldest national liberation movement, condemned by the rest of the allegedly civilized United Nations as a racist conspiracy and befriended against enormous odds mainly by the country that shares its goals and ideals, the United States.

Jack L. Levin.

Baltimore.

One-Sided Views

Editor: As an American Jew I have long been dismayed by the mean-spirited, one-sided view of Arabs espoused by the Israeli Likud, its spokesman Yitzak Shamir and like-minded Americans.

Typical of that view is a recent letter to you from Aron Raskas. He decries a U.S. foreign policy that dares to consider "the

perceived reactions of some Arab countries whose national pastimes appear to be the conquering of neighboring Arab territory and the slaughter of innocent citizens."

No doubt Saddam Hussein fits that description, and maybe the president of Syria. Yet Arabs in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab states have made plain their interest in peace in general and specifically with Israel.

The biggest obstacle to Mideast peace might be Likud's refusal to see Arabs as having differences among each other and having some positions worth at least listening to.

The Israeli government has consistently treated Palestinians like dirt, seized Arab land for its own use and insisted Israel's own positions are revealed truth. Mr. Shamir has made stone-walling an art.

I applaud the Bush administration's use of financial pressure to bring Israel to the bargaining table not only in body but also in spirit and with its ears open.

Israel and the Arabs have languages sharing common roots. They also have shared problems.

I wish both Israelis and Arabs the courage to make shalom/salaam (peace).

Philip L. Marcus.

Ellicott City.

Smoking Tax

Editor: Regarding your editorial "Up in Smoke" (Sept. 11), is it wise to rely so heavily on taxes from cigarettes to cure the state deficit? I think not.

As you point out, the idea is to reduce state-paid medical costs associated with lung cancer (and, I hope, you also include reducing the incidences of smoking-related lung cancer itself) as well as "closing the budget gap." Surely you realize that more and more people are kicking the habit. One day, hopefully, no one will be smoking. Where will our revenue come from then? Will the legislature target another "bad habit" and tax that to extinction?

The governor and legislature must get the budget together now by cutting spending and increasing revenue in ways other than new taxes on cigarettes. One alternative is to work to get people off the welfare rolls and onto the tax rolls. A "workfare" system of public assistance could possibly be worked out.

We should not wait until only 10 percent of the population is paying five or six dollars a pack for cigarettes. People are quitting, and they will continue to quit. Let's not have a budget that depends on a behavior that we are trying to eliminate. Instead, let's collect revenues from solid programs.

E. E. Prietz.

Abingdon.

Inner City

Editor: Ellen Uzelac's informative piece in The Sun Sept. 18 on the disappointments of urban revitalization ("Out of Choices: Urban Pioneers Abandon Inner Cities") focused on the still charming and elegant 800 block Hollins Street to illustrate the frustrations of the "pioneers" who reclaimed the street nearly two decades ago from near-ruin.

It pointed out the failure of gentrified areas to "pull up" neighboring districts as expected, and the recurrent crime rate which threatens to force even more urban settlers to give up their dreams.

Certainly, Baltimore has much to lose in this matter. Shouldn't immediate action be taken to reclaim these streets as crime-free? Exactly what are city officials doing?

The crime rate also dramatically affects the lives of the young women and men who attend the schools of the University of Maryland at Baltimore, who live in lovely, convenient locations like the 800 block Hollins Street, and who must learn to juggle daily domestic and academic schedules with the ongoing spate of break-ins, robberies, muggings and attempted assaults at any hour of night or day.

Might it not be wise for the university to follow its own precedent (in nearly Ridgely's Delight) in providing safe van service and perhaps even patrols in the areas between the campus proper and the homes where students live?

Would it not raise the level of security for the entire area if the university were to take a bit more responsibility for the quality of life in the adjacent neighborhoods?

The 800 block Hollins Street and similar reclaimed neighborhoods are true gems and much too precious for the city to allow crime and eroding services to gain the upper hand. Might not the university and the city work together to refine and enhance the legacy of gentrification?

Sidney Tishler.

Baltimore.

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