Editor: The public library is a genuine service which few of us users are willing to give up easily.
Money problems necessitate a change in policy which should be as fair and equal to all of our citizens as possible. Rather than close a few libraries in certain areas, why not close every library for one or two days a week until our financial picture becomes brighter?
Or close every library on Monday and if that will not save the desired revenue, then start opening at noon the rest of the week?
Whatever we finally decide to do, we should be fair and keep our library system open at all of the library branches.
Thomas C. Rothenhoefer.
Editor: The so-called "gag rule" will shortly be a regulation in force because of President Bush's veto of the Labor/Health and Human Services appropriations bill and the failure of the House of Representatives to overturn that veto. The veto was packaged by the president as a strike against abortion.
Instead, the net result will be quite different.
The "gag rule" states that health care providers working in a facility that receives federal Title X family planning funds cannot provide counseling concerning the availability of abortion to any woman unless her death is imminent in case her pregnancy continues. This is mandated malpractice.
The woman with an unintended pregnancy who also has diabetes, hypertension, heart disease or some other serious chronic medical problem needs to be told that she has options that carry less risk to her health than continuing her pregnancy.
Because of the promised refusal of federal funds by some facilities unwilling to provide "bad medicine" and the loss of funds by other facilities caught trying to provide appropriate medical care, there will have to be a decrease in the number of women seen in Title X-funded clinics. This will result in less family planning services available to the medically needy.
Of course, this will lead to more unintended pregnancies. Approximately half of all unintended pregnancies are aborted. Thus, the result of the "gag rule" will be an increase in the number of abortions performed as well as an increase in the human suffering attendant to the decision to terminate a pregnancy.
The "gag rule" is antithetical to our principles as a society and to my training as a physician. It is, in a word, un-American.
David A. Nagey, M.D.
Editor: A number that keeps coming up in the media is the 30 percent salary increase that Anne Arundel County teachers have gotten over the last several years. Thirty percent seems excessive, and asking teachers to give back a paltry 3 percent in these tough economic times doesn't seem like much to ask.
The thought occurred to me that a more historical look at teachers' salaries might be worthwhile, rather than just a three- or four-year snapshot.
We all know the cost of living is significantly higher now than 20 years ago, but how can it be quantified? The U.S. Department of Commerce provides a useful yardstick, the Consumer Price Index.
Here's a simplistic explanation of how it works: Economists have been computing every year the cost of the same market basket of goods and services an average consumer would purchase; some food, gasoline, clothing, car repair, housing etc. That market basket has risen in cost from $36.70 in 1969 to $137.20 now -- nearly a four-fold increase.
A person earning $6,600 in 1969 would need to earn $24,674 today in order to have the same buying power. The $6,600 wage in 1969 was not arbitrarily chosen, for that was my salary 22 years ago when I was a first-year teacher in Anne Arundel County.
My wages have risen since then, but I'd like to think about the purchasing power of the many first-year teachers that the board of education hires every year. These first-year teachers make a whopping $24,347 a year, which is about $300 less than they need (remember the $24,674?) to have the same purchasing power I had 22 years ago.
And County Executive Robert R. Neall is asking them to give back an additional 3 percent -- another $500! The much-ballyhooed 30 percent wage increase didn't overpay our teachers. It barely allowed them to keep up with inflation.
Certainly Mr. Neall would like all county children to grow up with a positive and worthwhile educational experience. Don't our children deserve the best educators available in the marketplace, the best money can buy?
Robert J. Grant.
Editor: Edward Gunts' Dec. 1 architecture review was an excellent discussion of the problem the IBM building presents to downtown Baltimore planning and development.
Let's hope that this building creates such a strong adverse reaction that it causes Baltimore to act to prevent a similar design catastrophe.
The citizens of San Francisco took steps to prevent a repeat of the Transamerica building. Maybe Baltimore citizens can do the same in this case.
Charles R. Carroll Jr.
Editor: Washington Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly has initiated an intensive campaign against violence through prevention, intervention and treatment. Hundreds of people are coming forward to help as mentors and in other capacities. Maryland could benefit from such a campaign on a state level. Much can be done.
In New York City, the 120 schools that teach conflict management skills have reduced school violence 75 percent. Maryland can do as well. The state superintendent of schools can require that all Maryland teachers learn how to teach conflict management skills to maintain their teaching certificate. Currently, Maryland has only a handful of schools with such programs because it relies on very expensive consultants.
Local television stations can help by not pushing violence. Innumerable studies link TV to adolescent violence. Programs that condone or promote violent solutions to conflict reinforce violent attitudes. Local station managers and owners can stop encouraging violence in Maryland by eliminating programs that enhance violence.
Studies also show that certain toys and movies desensitize
young males and increase their aggressiveness.
Merchants and movie owners don't sell children cigarettes. They can avoid selling them violence by avoiding products and movies that condone violence.
What's So Funny?
Editor: The Sun described former California Gov. Jerry Brown as a comic candidate. This is debatable. What I thought curious were the examples of Mr. Brown's comedy The Sun cited.
He dated Linda Ronstadt. So what? Is this comic? Ronstadt is an accomplished rock singer and is an attractive, unattached woman. No comedy there.
The second example The Sun cited was even more curious. He studied Zen Buddhism. Is this comic? Zen is an ancient religious discipline-philosophy which predates most Western religions. Is it really "comic" that a man would choose to study a different culture or religion?
The third example of Brown's comedy, according to The Sun, is that he worked with Mother Theresa. This example was the most curious of all. As I see it, for Mr. Brown, a wealthy man, to take the time to volunteer to go to Calcutta and work with the poor is admirable and not at all comical.
It may be The Sun that appears comic in this incident and not Governor Brown.
Joe R. Mogus.