Information for every American
Recently several presidential aspirants have trotted out the timeworn self-start formulas for instant economic recovery: roads, bridges and trains ' all paid for by taxation. True, these can provide jobs in the short term. But they don't provide the jump-start we need to become competitive in the 21st century.
These candidates fight tomorrow's economic wars with yesterday's hardware. We need a new infrastructure that might equip us for success in the next century. It could be called the American Information Network. The technology is generally developed (optical fibers, wide-band modulators, video-telephone and modem equipment, satellite data links and the like). The overriding principle is to provide any card-carrying U.S. citizen any information that is not copyrighted, patented or covered by U.S. security laws ' for free!
Here is the gate through which an underprivileged person, operating on his or her own initiative, can leave the trap of poverty, where a school kid can explore a new idea through electronic encyclopedia, a small businessperson can obtain data a key part from vendors and pick the lowest price, where the automobile industry can cut its cycle time for new models, where U.S. products could compete worldwide.
I think that we should set a new standard - the right to information. In a few decades the AIM will far outperform any new highway network in enhancing the national competitiveness. We will fight tomorrow's wars with tomorrow's public infrastructure.
Organ donor law
I was most pleased with your editorial "Shortage of organ donors" (Jan. 15), but I must take issue with some of your statements. You mention a federal Required Request Law adopted in Maryland in 1988. But in reality, Maryland adopted this law in 1986, when I introduced and had passed House Bill 1027. We were one of the first states to do so after New York and Oregon.
You mention that there is not unanimous support in the Orthodox Jewish community for organ donations. What community is unanimous in their support of anything? I doubt you would find unanimous support for organ donation in any religion. The truth of the matter is the Orthodox community allows donations if there is an identifiable donor and if the family gives consent.
I am proud that Maryland was one of the first states to have a required request law and equally proud to have been the legislator responsible for its passage.
The writer is the state senator from Maryland's 11th District.
Protect our markets
In 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. By 1945, the United States had retaliated and won the war. Back then, the government protected its citizens.
During the 1980s, Japan bombed the U.S. again, but this time they used economic domination as their weapon of choice. Our government has the ability to defend our industries and people, yet for some reason it won't.
It is time to flex the economic muscle of this country. The federal government needs to tariff imports to a point where Japanes goods are undesirable and U.S. goods are preferred. This is called protectionism. The Japanese do it. Why can't we?
Some members of the Schaefer administration and the state legislature have said that Maryland's economy is ailing. I don't believe it.
I will believe Maryland's economy is truly bleak when Standard and Poors downgrades Maryland's state bond ratings from "triple A" to "junk," when cuts in education are so deep that many of our high schools and colleges lose accreditation or when major banks refuse to allow the state to borrow money on "corporate signature only" status.
Maryland officials have a history of lying to citizens. Is the state really in trouble? Or is the top management covering its tail for its past mistakes, and just using the recession as an excuse?
Citizens should ask why the administration and the legislature received pay increases that outpaced the cost of living. They should ask whether these actions could be considered deliberate mismanagement of public funds. And people also should ask why, before construction began on the light rail project, a feasibility study which showed that the project wasn't feasible was rejected by the governor.
It would be great to have a slogan that says "Maryland . . . the honest state." But the state's history shows that this would be an oxymoron. That must change.
Todd Howard Stephens