Think hard to find a cure for...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Think hard to find a cure for city's ills

An acquaintance of mine, after a year of living in Israel, mentioned her culture shock at returning to the United States. She felt safer in Israel, surrounded by hostile countries, than she feels here in Baltimore . . .

We daily hear of death and maiming by gunshot. Even police and innocent children are not immune from the killing.

Is uncontrolled anger the source of the violence? Are drug use and greed the culprits? Is the problem our competitive society and limited resources? Is it hatred and prejudice?

Are more jails the answer? Gun control, family values, more police, the right to bear arms, a new administration, exiting the city? Certainly I do not know a global solution to the left or to the right.

Each person can only be responsible for his own behavior, as a young adult and adult.

It is my theory that thinking -- more specifically, reflective thought -- has been replaced by concern with doing things; watching TV, maintaining the rat race for survival, acting on the need to have a consumer mentality, going through one's life unaware, as if human consciousness is nothing but a sophisticated computer-like ability for achievement, pleasure fulfillment and asserting power over others and the environment.

The most far-reaching and comforting ideals and actions have all resulted from a single thought. Perhaps if each of us engaged in more reflective thought, we would not only probably feel a bit safer but could communicate our ideas and thoughts to others until the framework of society could be questioned and transformed into more of the utopia each of us would like.

In chaos there is an appreciation of calm. In calm there is the opportunity for self-renewal. I wish the reader the opportunity for reflective thought, the only hope for changing our violent city.

Ken Girard

Baltimore

Tobacco taxes

Research has shown that increased tobacco prices are the single most effective tool in reducing tobacco use, particularly among youth. Your editorial of Sept. 21, "Healthy tobacco taxes," demonstrates the dramatic gains possible in reducing smoking prevalence and per capita consumption of cigarettes by citing the remarkable achievements of Norway and Canada.

The fact that cigarettes remain so relatively affordable in the United States underscores the sad reality that the most powerful public policy tool available to fight our largest cause of preventable death remains woefully under-utilized.

The frightful consequences of such an indifferent public health policy are shocking -- an estimated 434,000 deaths annually caused by smoking; 1 million new smokers each year, drawn primarily from underage youth; and direct and indirect costs in the billions of dollars reflected in higher utilization of health care services, increased job absenteeism and lower productivity.

Other countries around the world have joined with Norway and Canada in increasing their cigarette taxes as a means of protecting the public health. In so doing, all of these countries have signaled a commitment to shift to an economy which is less reliant upon tobacco.

The time is long overdo for the collective political leadership throughout our country to take strong, unambiguous and consistent action to establish a tobacco-taxing structure which will begin to reverse the unnecessary and costly morbidity and mortality attributable to the ravages of smoking, and to accept as a direct consequence of such action the necessary reordering of this nation's economic priorities.

'Christian H. Poindexter

Baltimore

The writer is the chairman of the Maryland State Council oCancer Control.

Indecisive

Ross Perot has a golden opportunity to become a national hero. As a private citizen he should explain -- in detail -- just how our complex problems ought to be solved.

Mr. Perot is a financial wizard. However, in the political arena, he acts like a headless torso in search of a central nervous system.

At the present time, we do not know whether the little man with the big ego is sincerely interested in saving our nation from self-destruction . . .

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Evil of racism

As I watched the docudrama "Heat Wave (Watts Insurrection)," depicting my people's anger at racism, I cried tears of hurt and anger.

I suddenly felt my feelings shift to the horrendous force of racism that is presently destroying women, men, children and babies. This nightmare is so horrible that many of my people don't want to talk about it or confront it.

The dynamic of racism is real and powerful in a sick way. It is an institution in our society and is quietly accepted and condoned as if it were a given.

There are many of us who are not marching in lock-step, who talk about this awful phenomenon to all who will listen.

And when we hook up, we have our own revolution in which we intellectually bury racism.

The evil of racism will continue spreading its rotten stench across the width and breadth of this country, taking its deadly toll on all.

To bury this monster, good people must continue to expose racism in a sustaining force until it is destroyed.

Are you one of the many enablers marching in lock-step who have accepted the evil of racism?

Otha E. Nixon Jr.

Woodlawn

Knows better

I see that the Bush campaign, grasping at every available straw, insinuates that Bill Clinton's patriotism is somehow questionable because he exercised his First Amendment right to oppose the Vietnam War.

Bush implies that anyone with the gall to actually question the motives of the federal government lacks the "judgment" to be commander-in-chief.

What kind of "judgment" did the Bush administration exhibit in showering Saddam Hussein with all kinds of fancy weaponry prior to the gulf war? What about Panama, where we overthrew one corrupt government just to install another one?

Is Bill Clinton slick? You bet. But as commander-in-chief, I'm confident he'll know better than to arm foreign tyrants or blunder into Vietnam-type quagmires.

Tony Soltero

Owings Mills

State runs horses, racing industry into ground

John Mosner, whose letter to The Evening Sun appeared Sept. 29, needs to know that, unlike baseball, horse racing is not a sport.

While all the "teams" may be equally equipped, some of the players have not consented to participate, and some of the players do not know the rules. Therefore, like all activities involving animals, horse racing is definitely not a sport.

Mr. Mosner's affiliation indicates that the regulators of horse racing in Maryland are not impartial officials; they are business partners. Note that his letter ardently supporting horse racing was not written by a horse owner, or by a track owner, it was written by a supposedly "objective regulator."

What about Mr. Mosner's duty to oversee the welfare of the horses? Since fewer than 10 racing days were canceled from 1988 through 1991, it is obvious that racing days are canceled only when the roads are impassable, not when the track is hazardous.

Meanwhile, 38 horses had to be euthanized in 1990 because of injuries from breakdowns (a rate of one horse every eight racing days). And what about injuries to riders? Only Mr. Mosner knows the statistics to answer that question, and he doesn't seem to be telling.

This lack of concern for the horses and their riders is not surprising, since the only thing the state cares about is its cut of the take and the economic impact from horse racing.

Obviously, to the state and to the tracks, horses are not living animals; they are an investment. This "investment" is insured, so they run the horses into the ground with drugs.

If you think some parts of Baltimore have a drug problem, you should go to a race track. Up to 90 percent of horses run on the infamous painkiller "Bute," which "allows horses to race that should not race,"' according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The steroids which act as painkillers also lead to muscle degeneration. One breeder suggested 80 percent of horses are on steroids. Finally, there's Lasix, to dilute the other drugs in the horse's system and act as a diuretic. How convenient!

Since only about 13 percent of horses "earn" their keep at the track, many owners simply sell their losers to an auction house, where many are later sold to a slaughterhouse for eventual human consumption.

All this tells me is that the recession is simply accelerating a process which the racing industry was doing to itself -- that is, committing suicide.

As for entertainment, I'll stick with seeing Orioles run the bases instead of seeing horses run to death.

Mark E. Rifkin

Baltimore

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