Baby Boomers and Vietnam War
As the "baby boomers" reach for their rightful station in society, many want to question our birthright on the basis of one factor: Did you serve in your generation's war in Vietnam?
I did. And I believe that gives me the constitutional right to freely express my opinion.
In Vietnam, the U.S. lacked a policy to deal with the plight of the exploited people of southeast Asia. . . . Ho Chi Minh originally sought help from the U.S. but was turned away because the French had been our allies.
The lack of a vision in Washington cost over 58,000 American lives. It is safe to say that they didn't draft 18-year-old boys for their understanding of world policies. I now admire the few who had the intelligence, or insight, to question the apparatus I blindly served.
Only a fool would place himself on the wrong end of a loaded gun for fun. The very real prospect that you could die in the service of your country before you really lived was not a fool's thought.
Likewise, it was not foolish to believe your country needed you. It is foolish to believe that young men of that time made their choice without regard to the other choice.
Maturity may be considered as having learned from one's own experiences and then acting more wisely in future choices. In combat, the experience of being close to death cannot be denied as exhilarating in an otherwise mundane life. This is the opium passed from father to son.
It helps men with the illusion that they are manly. It blocks out the reality of the brutality that men are capable of inflicting upon other men, because that experience is lost to the consciousness of the nation.
Thus, rational decision-making gives way to national bravado and temper tantrums; the nation then fails to mature.
This nation's first generation of non-heroes is now ready to take the reins.
We found out that no one wanted to make movies of us.
No one wanted to listen to our stories.
We were never welcomed home by the nation.
We were losers not because my brethren didn't serve well, but because the policy was bad.
The Barry Rascovar column Sept. 13 is correct. The redrawing of election district lines was accomplished under a law passed by Congress which endorsed and directed an apartheid policy for the United States.
Slice it any way you wish, that is what demanding separatism because of race, religion or creed is all about. It is certainly not about integration and harmony. It is separatist law.
If it is wrong for South Africa it is just as wrong for America.
For the record, I supported opposition to this law in federal court in relation to Baltimore City redistricting in 1991 with a black constituent voter.
I believed then, as I do now, that Baltimore and Maryland should have tested the constitutionality of this law as apartheid law by refusing to blindly go along in lock step and by districting fairly and properly.
This apartheid law continues while we look the other way. It will haunt us and cause much grief before we have the courage to protest and eliminate this law that divides us.
Ross Z. Pierpont
Recession Requires Changes in Bank Rules
Thanks to a talk by a local banking official at a recent Baltimore Economic Society luncheon, the way into and out of the current recession is clear.
If the banks had been allowed the same latitude in 1989 as they had in 1980, we would have avoided the current crisis in lending, according to the speaker.
In the late '70s and early '80s, when the large money center banks were confronted with a crisis concerning loans to developing countries, that did not lead to massive failures and a severe recession.
After overbuilding in some commercial real estate markets (particularly Texas) and mostly involving local and regional banks, new federal banking regulations devalued real estate loans and caused billions of dollars of loans to be reclassified as non-performing loans.
This meant that some loans were called, some loans were written off or the capital reserve was increased, causing banks ,, to reduce lending dramatically and others to be acquired by the Resolution Trust Corp. or Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
On the surface this may have looked both prudent and responsible. In retrospect, it was clearly neither.
By declaring a $10 million loan non-performing, the bank was forced to increase the loan reserve perhaps by the loan amount or write off the loan, or the borrower had to repay the full loan.
This meant that an otherwise solvent borrower would be forced into bankruptcy, a bank would lose its interest income or an otherwise healthy bank would be taken over.
Today the banks that have survived are flush with capital. But most of that capital has been used to increase stock prices (not investment), increase cash reserves or invest in safe Treasury notes. That capital should go back to businesses as loans so that business can invest.
If $10 million were invested in residential real estate development, this would turn into as many as 500 new jobs in the first year. This would be a prudent loan because in the Washington metropolitan area there is less than one month's supply of new homes and less than one year's supply of lots, according to Housing Data Reports.
There is justification for over $400 million of new investment, which would translate into 20,000 new jobs this year. This could also fill over 2 million square feet of office and retail space.
Lending institutions must be allowed to make residential real estate loans again. This can only be done by changing the regulations that have stifled lending.
Lowering interest has only served to temporarily prop up bank profits. Otherwise, we are stuck into this stagnation and may fall
back into an even deeper recession.
S. Robert Kaufman
I'm sick and tired of gridlocked government by veto.
I'm sick and tired of "old man" presidents.
I'm an old man myself and can't wait for the trickle down.
3' This time the youn'un gets my vote.
Robert E. Schueler Sr.
Lake Roland Dam
I have been involved with the Lake Roland Dam reconstruction project since 1988, when Mayor Kurt Schmoke wrote to then-Baltimore County Executive Dennis Rasmussen requesting financial assistance in solving the Lake Roland Dam problem.
Together, the city and the county went with hat in hand and requested that the General Assembly match the local funding commitment through a bond bill initiated by the legislature.
The General Assembly saw the wisdom of the project and passed the first bond bill in 1989 for engineering design services and therein made a commitment to the project as a whole.
Every year since, Baltimore County and Baltimore City senators and delegates fought for and obtained continuing financial support for the project. The last major bond bill was passed this year despite the limited resources available to the General Assembly and the many worthwhile projects that go begging every year.
Although it would have been nice to have committed all the necessary funds a year or more in advance, the joint city/county project was not in a position to spend the money.
The yearly commitment of bond funds by our elected officials in the General Assembly was fiscally responsible and did not cause any delays in the reconstruction of the dam. The money was available when we needed it.
Without the support of senators and delegates from both jurisdictions, I doubt that Baltimore City and Baltimore County could have borne the financial strain, and instead Lake Roland would have been permanently drained and the dam dismantled.
Thomas H. Hamer
The writer is the deputy director of the Baltimore County Department of Public Works.