Upgrade Eastern Europe's Reactors
Both inadequate safety considerations and under-trained personnel produced the Chernobyl disaster as discussed in James J. Kilpatrick's column, "The Next Chernobyl in the Ex-Soviet Union" (The Sun, July 31).
As time progresses, more facts continue to emerge confirming this disaster was preventable.
As the hazards of burning fossil fuels are realized, it is becoming apparent that alternative energy options must be utilized. The only technological source of energy currently available to the world today capable of meeting our needs is nuclear power.
The problems that face the nuclear industry are manageable. France's retrievable waste storage system as well as the advanced light-water reactors being considered for approval by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission will improve and standardize methods for the future. We all need to support these proposals.
Since 57 reactors of the Chernobyl design are still in operation, another serious accident in the future is a very real probability. Nuclear safety is an essential global subject that can not be reduced to a national problem.
Another catastrophic event involving a negligent nuclear industry will show us all how small the world really is. The impact of another Chernobyl may put insurmountable obstacles in the path of even the most ardent supporters of nuclear power.
The United States must take a leading role in the upgrading of the Eastern Bloc's nuclear industry. Efforts now will save expenses in the future -- a future that will grow only if our nation has the energy to expand at acceptable costs. The reduction of this risk should be the concern of every nuclear nation, not only the Eastern bloc's.
John P. Tyler
The recent indictment of one Baltimore City landlord seems somewhat one-sided. Tenants must have some responsibility.
I know several people that rent on the low end of the scale but somehow manage to dispose of their own trash and keep their places in decent repairs.
It would seem that everyone wants the best housing that they can afford. We all can't afford the very best, but we can keep what we have in decent repair.
I am not suggesting that landlords have no responsibility to their tenants. However, if you drive down most city alleys you can find discarded mattresses, wine bottles and other trash.
I wonder, in all the landlord-bashing, has any tenant been cited for not having the required trash receptacle?
Albert R. Hogarth
The death of a child by child abuse or neglect is always horrifying to adults who care about the rights and well-being of children. Last year in Maryland, there were 39 fatalities of children due to abuse and neglect.
And, in 1986 when Myeshia Jenkins was brutally slain, People Against Child Abuse (PACA) was determined to acknowledge our grief to her father and the public. As executive director of PACA, I appeared on the talk show "People Are Talking" with Michael Jenkins, and I was honored to be in the company of a father who loved his father and cared about other children so much.
When Mr. Jenkins allowed the state to dispense to child advocacy groups his settlement funds in a suit against the Social Services Department, we were not surprised and very grateful that Mr. Jenkins continues to care about all children.
PACA intends to enhance our advocacy for children by setting up a special fund entitled the Myeshia Jenkins Memorial Fund to Assist Abused Children. We honor and praise Mr. Jenkins for helping us create this fund with the $10,000 that we will receive as a designated advocacy organization.
The writer is executive director of People Against Child Abuse, Inc., the Maryland chapter of the National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse.
Setting It Straight
Michael Olesker either lives a very sheltered life or he is more concerned with the politically correct than with the academically accurate.
There is nothing academically accurate about his statement in the column titled, "The kind of thing that would never happen again" (Aug. 9), where he writes that his father lived in the Bronx "in the late 1930s when mass killing was arriving in Europe and Americans still thought they could watch from the sidelines."
Mass killing was in high gear in the man-made famine in Ukraine of 1932-33. Hannah Arendt relates in "The Origins of Totalitarianism" that Stalin exterminated about 8 million people in Ukraine at this time, a fact that even as journalists and public school social studies specialists are remain oblvious of to this day.
Who can explain the callousness that occurred in 1932-33 and which persists until today?
Care for All
I am writing in reference to your Aug. 10 editorial, "Rationing Health Care." I strongly agree with your opinion that access to health care should be a civil right for all Americans. I disagree -- equally strongly -- with your assumption that rationing health care is necessary. There are other options.
According to the Maryland Insurance Commissioner, 30 cents of each premium dollar is spent on insurance company administrative costs in the small group and in the individual marketplace.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland admits to spending 10 1/2 cents on the dollar for administration. In this country, we have an employer-based system in which 37 million people have no insurance and at least as many are seriously underinsured.
Moreover, because of such procedures as durational rating, it is virtually impossible to purchase health insurance when healthy and expect it to be there years down the line when one's health is less good.
And to boot, increasingly we are losing the right to select the health care providers who attend to the most personal of our needs.
In contrast, in the Canadian single-payer system the comparable administrative cost, even if you add in the costs for health care providers to handle their administrative responsibilities, is between 10 and 11 cents on the dollar.
The Canadian system is not perfect. They are under-invested in technology like magnetic resonance imaging equipment.
In this country we are over-invested. Along with a single payer system, we would benefit from expanding the function of two model Maryland programs, the Health Services Cost Review Commission and the Health Planning Resources Commission.
Until we have taken those minimum steps, we should put talk of rationing to rest. Health care for all is a right.
lbert P. Cohen
Higher Taxes, Lower Debt
Richard Palla (Aug. 14, letter) got it partly right. The way to get rid of the deficit must include a tax increase. But it isn't that simple.
Some arithmetic reveals that his suggested plan would, at best, reduce the annual deficit by only about 20 percent -- certainly worthwhile but not the way to eliminate the deficit.
The U.S. budget is now a little over $1 trillion per year. Only about $650 billion is raised in taxes and other revenue each year with a resulting annual deficit around $350 billion (all figures are ballpark but realistic).
Imposing a 10 percent surcharge on corporate and individual income taxes would likely raise considerably less than $65 billion, since not all revenues are from income taxes. This would reduce the annual deficit to around $285 billion. The deficit would never be eliminated -- not in five years, or even ten.
The deficit isn't like a mortgage loan that, when repaid in installments, diminishes over time. It's like charging $1,000 on your credit card each month and only paying $650 on the bill. Increasing the payment to $715 per month will not eliminate the deficit over time.
Most of today's deficit is debt service. The annual interest on $3 trillion at 7 percent (which is a conservative estimate of the average yield on the long-term U.S. securities that fund the debt) is $210 billion. The debt will constantly grow even if we don't spend more than we collect each year, because we have to borrow the money to pay the interest on the debt.
The only way to eliminate the deficit is to collect at least as much money each year as you spend--including the interest on the debt.
It will take a combination of bold and difficult steps to eliminate the deficit. A much more progressive tax structure that collects more from those most able to pay is needed. The health care system must be reformed, ideally through a single-payer approach, to reduce the huge revenue demands of Medicare and Medicaid. Deep cuts must be made in military spending to free revenue for deficit reduction. The economy must be revitalized so that more revenue will be derived from the income tax.
Accomplishing this will take real leadership and much courage. There are those in the Congress who know these things must be done and they will need the support of the people in order to take the political risks demanded of them. Let your representatives know that you want the deficit eliminated and that you understand that there are complex and very difficult problems that must be solved before that can be accomplished.
J. Wayne Ruddock