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National InterestThanks to Ross Perot, the budget...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

National Interest

Thanks to Ross Perot, the budget and national deficit drew a lot of verbal attention during the recent election campaign.

However, I'm not sure that the $1 billion dollars per day interest we pay on the national debt translates into how we get our economy back on track.

A national hue and cry from our taxpayers is decidedly in the public interest and should be listened to by Bill Clinton.

Richard H. Merchant

Towson

Hiss' Guilt

The Sun obligingly printed a letter from Alger Hiss (Nov. 10) in which he expressed his "joyous feelings" over his recent "vindication."

Are we to instantly accept the word of a Russian general-historian that Alger Hiss was not a spy for the Soviet Union, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

Let us consider the matter for a moment. On the one hand we have the word of Gen. Dmitri A. Volkogonov, who spent a mere four or five weeks going through KGB archives, that Alger Hiss did not serve as a spy for the Soviet Union.

On the other hand we have a tremendous body of evidence going back many years, some of which comes from Russian/Soviet sources, that Alger Hiss was guilty as charged.

For example, in a footnote in his book "KGB: The Inside Story," Oleg Gordievsky, the Soviet Union's spy chief in London from 1982 until his defection in 1985, referred to Iskhak A. Akhmerov as "Hiss' wartime [KGB] controller." This reference alone would seem to cast at least a smidgen of doubt on Alger Hiss' innocence.

And Thomas Powers, writing in the New York Review of Books on Aug. 17, 1989, tells us that the code name for Alger Hiss in the Soviet Union was "Ales." And then, of course, there are the dozens of witnesses who built the case against him. All liars, I suppose. In fact, the overwhelming case against Alger Hiss is meticulously documented by Professor Allen Weinstein in his book "Perjury."

To portray Alger Hiss as an innocent victim of "McCarthyism," it is necessary to ignore the vast quantity of evidence that Alger Hiss knowingly betrayed his country.

Paul Caliando

Springfield, Va.

Costly Power Scheme

Potomac Edison estimates that residents of Western Maryland could be paying 10 to 20 percent more for electricity to support the construction of the proposed Applied Energy Services power plant in Allegany County. But according to Potomac Edison officials this power plant is not needed.

How can this be? The one word answer is "politics."

Del. Casper Taylor, D-Allegany, and Gov. William Donald Schaefer are pushing hard for the construction of this privately owned power plant in the name of "economic development" for Western Maryland.

Sadly, this so-called economic development project could dampen real economic development in the region by making us less competitive because of higher electricity rates.

Existing big power users like Eastalco in Frederick County and Westvaco in Allegany County would be saddled with electric bills that would make them less competitive with others in their industry which pay less for power.

AES Corp. has given oral assurances that it plans to burn Maryland coal as fuel for the plant, and it estimates that the operation of the plant and the mining of the coal could create about 300 jobs.

In a region desperate for employment, it is apparently impolite to ask how much these jobs may cost us.

Ignoring both the cost to consumers and the issue of whether the power plant is actually needed, the Schaefer administration has strongly urged the Maryland Public Service Commission to grant AES a waiver from a permit requirement that would force the company to demonstrate that the power plant is really needed.

AES and the Schaefer administration argue that it would be unfair to the company to re-evaluate whether the power plant is needed when an analysis back in 1989 demonstrated that it was.

But what about fairness to Western Maryland electricity consumers?

Why should Potomac Edison's customers in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery and Washington counties have to pay millions of dollars in increased utility bills for electricity we don't even need?

Glen Besa

Flintstone

Voters Rejected the Biblical Consensus

The election outcome was more than merely a victory for the Democratic Party. It represented the establishing of a new watershed for American society, the declaring by the majority of the adult population of a new consensus on morality and public policy.

As scholars and historians from virtually every camp have observed, America was founded upon the basis of an ethos that derived in large part from a Biblical and Protestant view of the world and life.

As Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. puts it, "For better or worse, the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant tradition was for two centuries -- and in crucial respects still is -- the dominant influence on American culture and society."

Supporters of that religious consensus -- those who have consistently opposed the emerging new ethos -- sought vainly to convince themselves and others that it was only a handful of the "cultural elite" who were promoting values and policies that flew in the face of the long-standing Biblical tradition.

As late as last summer Vice President Dan Quayle, columnist Patrick Buchanan, and televangelist Pat Robertson -- not to mention the likes of Michael Medved, et al. -- were still insisting that a small cadre of activists and social planners were trying to lead the nation astray.

The election showed just how out of touch with the American people these and others like them are.

The American people said they wanted to live in a nation where abortion could be secured virtually on demand, where homosexuality was considered a valid alternative lifestyle, where parents are not to be allowed greater control over the education of their children, and where an ever-expanding federal government assumes more and more of the roles that had formerly been cared for by family, church and other private interests.

And, like it or not, this is an ethos that represents a departure from the Protestant, Biblical world view. The American people, it seems, prefer the spiritus mundi to the spirit of God. So be it.

For those of us who continue to believe that the Biblical consensus is the most reliable way for men and women to find life, liberty, and happiness, it's time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn once warned against starry-eyed dreaming when it comes to dealing with the realities of life at the end of the 20th century. This new consensus has not come about because the "cultural elite" won the hearts of the people. Rather, it was because the guardians of the Biblical consensus betrayed their cause and abandoned their posts until it was all but too late.

If we would see our nation returned to a Biblical consensus, then the onus is upon us to demonstrate that the Biblical lifestyle is, as the Scriptures teach, one of compassion, justice, and truth, and that the Gospel which is the heart and soul of that lifestyle can be made relevant, intelligible and even attractive to secularized men and women.

For it is not so much that Americans have self-consciously rejected the Biblical world and life view.

Rather, it is that, having seen so little evidence of it in our lives over the past generation, they have concluded that some other, more workable way must be found.

Unhappily, as many of us see it, they have elected a way which, while it seems to promise life and happiness, will, in the end, bring only disappointment, despair and death.

But rather than denounce them for their folly or condemn them for doing the best that they can, given the absence of any light from us in recent years, let us accept the responsibility for our loss and consider how we might once again begin to bring salt and light into these troubled times.

T. M. Moore

Timonium

The writer is a pastor at Timonium Presbyterian Church and president of Chesapeake Theological Seminary.

Two Friends

Gov. William Donald Schaefer went against the people of the Democratic Party who put him in office.

If he claims his decision to vote for George Bush has not cost him any friends, that's because he only has two friends, President Bush and Rep. Helen Bentley.

My advice to the governor: Next time you run for office, run as a Republican. You are through as a Democrat!

Freida Domm

White Marsh

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