Well-Fed ProgramsThe article in the Feb. 21...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Well-Fed Programs

The article in the Feb. 21 Perspective section by Jeff Faux on President Clinton's economic plan, especially his comment about how the public infrastructure and education have been starved, prompted some research. The following facts came out.

Since 1960, over $3 trillion has been spent by federal, state and local government on education -- more than half of that since 1981. The rate of increase between 1960 and 1988 exceeded 9 percent per year. For it, we get high school graduates who can't spell or do simple arithmetic.

Similarly, over $1 trillion have been spent on transportation, again more than half since 1981; rate of increase -- over 7 percent annually. For housing and community services, over $300 billion, an increase of 9 percent per year. These sectors are hardly starving.

The increased funding proposed in the so-called stimulus package may sound nice but I fear again, once started, it will not stop.

My review of the energy tax proposals indicates that they will increase the cost of energy by about 15 percent, great for global economic competition.

The continual argument that other industrialized countries have high gasoline taxes ignores the fact that most of that money is used to subsidize their public transportation systems. Since they have over eight times the population density and less than one-fifth the area, that is a national decision.

Mr. Clinton's speech may have sounded good, but when I read it, I found little meat. Your "highlights" summary showed little in cuts on the domestic side (mandates?) aside from $163 billion from the Bureau of Water Reclamation.

When will more detail be revealed? It appears that this is being railroaded through Congress before the public can make an informed judgment.

ohn Harrington

Sykesville

AIDS Arguments

Barbara Eileen Chole's Feb. 20 letter was a stirring and graphic portrayal of combat. Because the stories were real (they happened to her husband), the images of blood swirling around a helicopter cockpit and her husband having to amputate a crew member's leg were told with great conviction, and personal courage.

There was only one problem. Mrs. Chole used this as an argument against gays in the military. By tapping into AIDS hysteria she used the cruelest argument of all -- that because gays are disproportionately affected by the AIDS epidemic, they should be denied full participation in our society.

Not all gays have AIDS and certainly not all heterosexuals are free of the virus. Either of her husband's crew members could have been heterosexual men who six months prior had a liaison with a prostitute who had the AIDS virus.

Would she rather have the blood swirling around the helicopter be that of a gay man without the virus or a heterosexual man with the virus? I'm almost afraid of the answer.

AIDS affects blacks and Hispanics in much greater proportions than whites. Does Mrs. Chole propose to eliminate them from military service also?

When are people ever going to understand that AIDS is not a gay disease? Or that it has absolutely no bearing on the debate about gays in the military.

Thomas L. Ditty III

Baltimore

Fair Share

How many times must the American voter endure yet another election year change of heart? Whether it's "read my lips" or a "middle class tax cut," Americans have seen another classic example of "gotcha" politics.

I believe a vast majority of the middle class would be willing to do their fair share if they truly believed that the federal government had been reduced to the bone and most pork had been removed.

The reduction of $9 billion in government spending compared to a federal budget of $1.4 trillion is an insult.

If the middle class is to get behind this president, everything, including Social Security, federal pensions, Medicare and cost of living allowances, must also be reviewed.

When these entitlements are added to the interest on the national debt, the total accounts for approximately 65 percent of the yearly budget before we spend a dime on anything else.

The time has come for Americans to truly hold their elected officials accountable for what they say during the campaign, and these same elected officials must stop underestimating the intelligence of the average citizen.

Richard C. Patterson

Abingdon

SPEND

In this day and time when one needs a Dictionary of Acronyms, let me take this opportunity to add another which we will soon find in daily use when referring to the Clinton administration:

SPEND (Scurrilous Politicians to Exterminate Naive Democrats).

William H. M. Finney

Baltimore

Dundalk-Speak

I write as a graduate of both Gilman and Princeton to correct Del. Leslie Hutchinson's inference (Feb. 12) that the people of Dundalk speak in a less considerate or mannerly way because they did not attend these two schools.

The use of disrespectful and inconsiderate language as attributed to former Del. John Arnick is a product of one's training at home from early childhood to adulthood.

Based on my acquaintances and friends who grew up and live in Dundalk, their way of speaking is no less respectful to others than those who attended Gilman or Princeton.

Ms. Hutchinson's remark is not as much a compliment to the schools as it is degrading to the citizens of Dundalk.

J. Richard Thomas

Baltimore

Huge Increase

President Clinton says his deficit reduction plan would cost the average family of four only $200 yearly in net taxes.

My wife and I, living in retirement, wouldn't mind paying only $200 a year to help reduce the deficit.

But we object strongly to paying $1,600 more because the president wants to tax 85 percent of our Social Security income instead of the present 50 percent.

That's a huge 70 percent increase. It seems inequitable to require middle class retirees to share new tax burdens so disproportionately.

Chester Kiser

Towson

Trapping Hurts the Animals

After reading the letter (Feb. 22) by Robert Cox in The Sun I feel compelled to respond. Much of what he wrote is not true.

Leg-hold traps are one of the most cruel devices devised by man. As a life-long resident in a rural area, with property bordering on a creek, I speak from first-hand experience.

These traps do break the legs of small animals. The intense pain is the reason the trapped animal severs its own leg by biting.

As to releasing unwanted or unintended catches, this is very difficult. The type person who traps usually finds it more convenient to kill all such animals before discarding or freeing.

As to the animal setting down and taking a nap -- completely false. Has anyone ever known of a trapped man or animal to nap with a broken leg? Instead the victim struggles and collapses from exhaustion.

As to management of animals, nature has done a much better job than man. Nearly all small game in my section of Maryland has been exterminated by man. Trappers in general are willing to seek and kill as long as one or two exist. In addition, trappers in this area are usually trespassers, both on private and public lands.

No amount of talk by a hunter or trapper will lessen the pain of a trapped or wounded animal.

!Charles H. Calvert Jr.

Pasadena

I can't believe you would feature a letter defending the cruel leg-hold traps. The writer has the nerve to say the traps don't hurt. Let him have his hand or foot in one of those traps for 24 hours and see how he feels.

Animals are much smaller, and the pain is much more severe, plus there's the loss of blood and freezing in winter.

The writer obviously hasn't heard about or seen those unfortunate thousands of pets who have to lose legs and paws as vets tried to save their lives due to being caught in leg-hold traps.

Also, the writer doesn't describe how they club the poor trapped animal to detach it when it is finally found by the trap owner.

There are painless traps in the shape of a box that the trappers could use. But they cost more money, and the trappers are too cheap to use them. They don't care about the animals -- just their own money.

Leg-hold traps should be banned in the United States. It is cruel, and the trappers don't care. The public should know the truth, and it is not what the trapper told in his letter.

Muriel S. Cooper

West River

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