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The poor get poorer, the rich get...


The poor get poorer, the rich get richer

Unfortunately, it is a given that every time Congress goes about to adjust the tax system to help the poor taxpayer, the poor benefit by one penny, the middle class a nickel and the rich a dollar. Current discussions by the national administration and Congress are no exception.

The pressure to reduce the capital gains tax as a means to stimulate the economy will benefit the wealthy. In the late '70s and the '80s, upper management, in addition to already exorbitant salaries, was given stock options at substantially below market value. Now, as the executives near or reach retirement and the time comes to cash in on that stock, huge profits will be made.

Also, your Monday Money at Work column suggests more pressure to have the Federal Reserve further cut interest rates, a method supposedly to stimulate the economy. At the outset, there has to be a limit on how low the central bank can reduce rates. As interest rates at the national level plummet, so do rates of the millions of retirees' savings. The result is that those who had prudently saved and counted on income from those savings are now being hurt in their retirement years. On the other hand, big business stands to benefit as it uses "cheap" money to buy out competition and put other people out of work.

Much of the arguments for various tax programs come from economists. In this context, on your Other Voices page, Robert Kuttner wrote, "And the economists who brought us deregulation need to go back to school and learn a useful trade." He is so right!

Richard L. Lelonek


Save the "subs"

As a former full-time substitute teacher who worked with all age groups within Baltimore suburban schools, I read with sympathy the account of a New Jersey substitute teacher who faces charges relating to the invocation of voodoo to help students to behave in the classroom.

In my experience, nine out of 10 times a substitute is placed within a classroom, in high school or junior high, the students have been poorly prepared to behave properly, functionally or safely. Substitute teachers are expected to behave professionally while suffering the scorn of teachers and administrators who fail to prepare students to behave, fail to back up the substitute in disciplinary matters and fail to provide meaningful lesson plans and activities.

While the teacher in question was removed from the substitute teacher list for voodoo, I have found that substitute teachers are generally not called or employed when they have demanded proper behavior and lesson planning through official channels. It is time to fully investigate the treatment of substitute teachers in our schools.

The substitute teacher can be an invaluable source of assistance. The "sub" can judge the ability of a class to behave and of a teacher to plan and of an administrator to follow-up in the management of the process. Improvement of working conditions is drastically needed or perhaps voodoo should be adopted.

Conrad Bladey


Chief Banister

In the Forum of Jan. 29, you published a letter from Tracy C. Burke regarding the chief of the Baltimore County Fire Department, Elwood Banister, which was uncomplimentary and replete with inaccuracies. As someone who knows Chief Banister and his history in the department, I felt compelled to respond.

I have known Chief Banister for approximately 10 years. Chief Banister is eminently qualified to head the department. He has been a member of the Baltimore County Fire Department for over 36 years. He started as a fire fighter and came up through the ranks. During his career he was for 10 years responsible for the Baltimore County Fire Academy and all its training programs. In connection with the academy, he was also responsible for training all members of the Emergency Medical Services. As deputy chief, he continued to have responsibility for the operations of the EMS as well as operations in the fire response area.

Chief Banister has always had and continues to have as his highest concern the safety of fire fighters, EMS personnel and the citizens of Baltimore County.

Ralph K. Rothwell Jr.


Health-care needs

House Speaker Tom Foley's support for the "pay or play" Band-Aid for medical care is testimony to capon congressional leadership and the largess of commercial insurance PACs.

"Pay or play" is one more gimmick to keep the commercial insurance hogs at the medical industry trough. Their administrative costs and profits are among the largest factors in the outrageous cost of medical care.

Why should employers be forced to buy costly and limited private insurance? What about the young? The unemployed?

Every Western nation save the U.S. provides universal health care. The systems vary, but they include certain common aspects:

They are single-payer systems operated by the national government and financed by taxes.

They are universal, covering young and old, rich and poor, well and ill.

They are comprehensive, providing complete coverage for all medical and dental care.

No system can be actuarially or socially workable without these elements. How long will the U.S., in obeisance to private profit, refuse to join the club of civilized nations?

Eugene J. McNulty


Not a sport

Some women feel that Mike Tyson's trial should not have been covered in the sports section. I disagree, because Iron Mike's activities are of interest to boxing fans all over the globe. However, I agree that rape is not a sport.

Joseph Lerner


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