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Flat pay raises more fair than percentagesI...

Flat pay raises more fair than percentages

I am writing this note to let you know how I feel about the unfair way the federal government treats its employees. Each time they give a cost of living raise to their employees, they give a percentage raise instead of an across-the-board raise.

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If the federal government were to give a 4 percent cost of living increase to their employees today, a GS-1 employee would receive $459.12 annually, minus the federal, state and Social Security taxes.

The GS-14 would receive an increase of $2,184.28 annually. This happens each time they give their employees a percentage increase. Do you think this is fair for a cost of living increase, when they both pay the same amount for a loaf of bread?

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Now I know where the saying the rich get richer and the poor get poorer comes from. Should the federal government give all employees the same $459.12 or a fair amount for a cost of living increase, there would be a savings of over a billion dollars each year, which could help the deficit.

This percentage thing is getting out of hand; all employees should be treated equally with this type of increase. This doesn't only apply to federal workers. It applies to all employers who give their employees percentage increases.

James Reck

Pasadena

Where's Baltimore?

Regarding the traveler depicted by Robert C. Tompkins' letter "Where's Pimlico?" in The Evening Sun (July 1), one is prompted to ask: "Where's Baltimore?" Not only is direction to Pimlico missing, but also the sign welcoming travelers to Baltimore is not displayed.

When our friends in Pennsylvania come down I-83 to visit our exciting downtown or to see the Orioles play, let them know when they've come into town.

F: Welcome to Baltimore -- one of America's great cities.

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Albert D. Harris

Baltimore

Right to hate

It's okay to destroy the flag, paint swastikas on buildings and burn crosses. But prayers, benedictions and Bibles have no place in the public schools.

I cannot fathom how such gentle acts can be overridden by such hateful, degrading and harmful actions. Where are our rights?

Joan L. Lease

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Baltimore

Recognize warning signs of depression

Your editorial comment in "Suicides at College Park" (July 18) that "young people kill themselves for a lot of reasons, most often because a problem of the moment seemed insurmountable and unlikely to go away" is completely untrue.

Mildly depressed individuals do not commit suicide. Deeply depressed people who are suicidal are in that condition because of chemical imbalances. The medical treatment for someone who is severely depressed is to prescribe anti-depressants, often with supportive psychotherapy and a two- to four-day stay in a hospital until the anti-depressants take effect. Such people often can and do get well and stay well.

Instead of chipper editorials, I suggest you publish some of the warning signs of clinical depression. Any high school guidance counselor can enlighten you.

The eight students who killed themselves represent enormous grief to their families and friends and probably no little guilt. Clinical depression doesn't arise overnight. Someone saw how much these students were sleeping or drinking or having trouble concentrating -- yet didn't realize they needed an emergency room.

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What happened at College Park is a tragedy. But the real tragedy will be if all of us -- friends, relatives, newspaper readers -- don't try to stop the suicides.

Patricia Fulda

Baltimore

Legalizing drugs: Rosenthal blew it at the end

A. M. Rosenthal just wrote the most amazing column (Other Voices, July 3) I have ever read. In the first 17 inches of an 18-inch column, he brilliantly cuts to the bones of our major presidential candidates for their failure to deal with a drug war that is clearly being lost while our neighborhoods are dominated by armed drug gangs. He concludes this reasoning with "there is another solution -- legalization. That might reduce killings."

But not willing to leave well enough alone, he added a final inch of ignorant nonsense, when he wrote:

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"Of course, it would also increase the number of addicts, AIDS victims, babies born with ever-damaged brains. And would amount to genocide against the major drug victims -- blacks and Hispanics . . .

If, by "legalization," Mr. Rosenthal means to throw drug merchandising open to private enterprise to exploit at the entrepreneurs' pleasure, his conclusions would be warranted. After all, look what Schenley, Miller and their ilk have done since the end of prohibition. Look what the Liggett Group and R. J. Reynolds have done to addict millions more citizens.

But why turn a blind eye to legalization with real social control? If addiction to heroin and cocaine were treated as a medical not a legal problem, as are alcoholism and nicotine addiction, and medical clinics were to provide addicts with heroin and cocaine, much as they presently do with methadone, along with counseling, sanitation facilities, needle exchange and free HIV-AIDS testing and continuing education, the results -- we can safely predict -- would be nearly all dramatically positive.

In one fell swoop the profits would disappear from the drug trade. No more reason for drug wars. No more reason for addicts to steal $200-300 a day to support their addictions. No more reason to send arms and troops to the Andes or to damage the ecology by spraying fields with carcinogenic defoliants. No more huge drug profits to bribe cops, courts or entire governments -- not to mention the savings in police, court and prison costs. Pure and consistent dosages will result in fewer overdoses and lower medical/hospital costs.

It can be reasonably argued that if such drugs were free at medical clinics, large numbers of new people would experiment with heroin and cocaine and become addicted.

The counter-argument includes:

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* No pusher could gain financially by encouraging non-addicts to "go ahead, try one -- this one's on me."

* Anyone who wants to try heroin or cocaine can already get anything he or she wants -- any time of the day or night -- practically any place in the country, including elementary schools and skating rinks.

* The appeal of doing something illegal and dangerous would be replaced by a visit to a clinic -- some fun!

All of which should help to shrink the number of addicts, hasten their recovery and permit them to live reasonably productive lives -- as do millions of alcoholics.

With easy access to clean needles and with sanitary facilities, AIDS should begin to decline among intravenous drug users. This, along with easy access to counseling and no fear of judicial punishment, would help pregnant women produce fewer AIDS babies.

As a matter of cold fact, there would probably be appreciably fewer pregnant addicts as the need to sell women addicts' bodies to afford "fixes" would disappear. This would also add to the decline of AIDS transmission from addict prostitutes to their non-addict customers.

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Such legalization with social control would be in the immediate interest of our neighborhoods, as well as the addicts and society at large. The only losers would be the drug cartels, the lost bribes and those who prefer to see our inner cities dysfunctionally pitting neighbor against neighbor.

A. Robert Kaufman

Baltimore


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