Conversion ProphetFor all the 16 years he...


Conversion Prophet

For all the 16 years he was in the U.S. House of Representatives, Parren J. Mitchell advised and exhorted our Washington legislators in Congress to begin to plan for conversion of war industries into peace industries.

If his creative plans had been followed, our country would not now be in a panic over the closing of war industries and bases.

It seems to us that one of the best things President Clinton could do would be to utilize the ideas and services of Mr. Mitchell to help us over this critical time.

Savilla Teigter

Samuel Schmerler


Crying Wolf

Bravo for the excellent editorial "Cleaner Air, Cleaner Cars" (March 5), but a loud Bronx cheer for the story you picked up from the Associated Press the same day about the hearing in Annapolis on the "Clean Cars Bill."

I attended the hearing. I was there for three and a half hours. Perhaps The Sun cannot afford to send a reporter to spend that much time in a hearing, but at least you could avoid printing such an out of context report.

Surely you must know that the automobile manufacturers are adept at manipulating figures. They choose 2005 as the point to compare the difference between the Clean Air Act results and the California cars results because, as they say, that is when Maryland must be in compliance; however, the real reason they choose that year is that if you go beyond 2005 you begin to see the 55 to 75 percent improvement mentioned by Robert Perciasepe, secretary of the environment.

It is interesting that, although a Ford Motor Co. spokesperson testified against adoption of California cars in Maryland at the hearing, Ford is running an ad on TV which states that it is now selling cars certified to meet the new California requirements. It boasts that the cars are available now more than a year before they are required to be available and that they run on regular gasoline.

Ford's cost is $72 per vehicle, and the cost to the consumer is zero, since Ford decided that for competitive reasons it would not pass the cost on to the consumer. So much for $1,200 per car.

The auto makers have for more than 20 years cried wolf. Lee Iacocca, then a Ford vice president, said that if the Clean Air Act of 1970 were to be passed auto companies would go out of business.

At every turn every improvement in efficiency and pollution control has been met by the same cry of wolf.

J. Wayne Ruddock


Fighting ALS

I am writing to commend you on the piece you ran on March 4 concerning the recent breakthrough in the fight against ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease.

Those of us who have dealt first-hand with the disease are thrilled with this, the most promising research accomplished to date.

Through this piece and the one on Victor Blok Feb. 28, you have advanced public understanding of a frustrating, deadly disease. What you failed to mention, however, is that the bulk of funding for this research was provided by the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which raises millions of dollars each year for research and services to patients with neuromuscular diseases.

The bulk of the money raised through the Jerry Lewis telethon and scores of other fundraisers stays in the area where it is donated, so that the Johns Hopkins research and assistance to people like Mr. Blok and his courageous caregivers are largely due to donations from Baltimore area citizens.

Sandra O'Conor Jackson

Severna Park

El Salvador

Concerning El Salvador, The Sun has amnesia.

During the Reagan years The Sun supported our government's policy of sustaining the death squad regime, referring to President Jose Napoleon Duarte as a "moderate," even as he butchered his own people.

It was to this government that our government pumped $6 billion of our taxes to keep it in place.

The Sun also supported the U.S.-created, -trained and -sustained contra terrorists for the purpose of bringing down the democratically elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua. The contras murdered over 35,000 civilians in our name and with our taxes.

This is not new history. In 1954, the democratically elected government of Jacopo Arbenz Guzman in Guatemala was brought down by our CIA, and venal dictators were set in power.

And in Chile in the early 1970s, the democratically elected Salvador Allende government was brought down by our CIA, and the dictator Augusto Pinochet was placed in power. And Manuel Antonio Noriega in Panama, and on and on.

But since truth is a powerful weapon, and the facts about El Salvador continue to emerge, The Sun now takes the stand it should have taken many years ago.

How much bloodshed could have been avoided if the lies of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush had been exposed.

Gerald Ben Shargel


Full Employment

The day all Americans are too discouraged to look for work is the day that, under current statistical methods for calculating unemployment rates, we will have arrived at full employment.

Elmer Spurrier

Middle River

Can U.S. Workers Compete Globally?

One of the most obvious arguments associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is the security of U.S. jobs.

While the potential for the United States to export ordinary factory jobs and develop a more specialized and technical work force domestically is there, there are no guarantees that we can effectively make the transition in education and training programs throughout all levels of society.

Montgomery County, with one of the most successful public school systems in the country, cannot guarantee this. If we do not sufficiently prepare our children for a technical society, we will widen the already widening gap between the rich and the poor.

In the meantime can U.S. laborers compete with the lower wages across the border, where people are desperate for jobs to feed their families?

Or we could react with expensive protectionist legislation such as in the textile industry. Country by country quotas on imports have caused clothing to be 30 percent to 50 percent more expensive.

Of course these policies often lead to higher prices, thus reduced consumer incentive, and thus a reduction in the need for the labor that the policy was intended to protect. What NAFTA offers Mexico, and subsequently benefits the United States, is a growth economy. Few would argue that there is a lack of people willing to work in Mexico, and NAFTA provides this. American businesses will correspondingly see an increasing demand for their products.

However, the opportunity for America to benefit is not limited to Mexico. A lot of interest has been given to the potential markets and emerging economies in Europe since the ending of the Cold War.

Gov. Douglas Wilder in Virginia has targeted Africa for a trade office.

In fact the whole world is developing, which means potential markets for American businesses are everywhere. The United States could even lift its embargo on Vietnam and Cuba, markets we are now losing to Japan.

Additionally, as its economy is stabilizing, Mexico has immunized over 90 percent of children under five, set up a growth monitoring program to reduce malnutrition, increased education resources by 70 percent, implemented the National Agreement on the Modernization of Basic Education, set up the Program for the Protection of Street Children and more than doubled spending on clean water to reach an additional 8 million people. It has become a model of development.

But NAFTA alludes to an even bigger question: Can U.S. workers compete in the global economy? As long as there are conditions of desperation abroad, cheap labor will threaten American jobs. With 35,000 children dying every day of malnutrition and easily preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia, there are an awful lot of desperate parents.

Securing the most basic of human needs is essential to securing the position of the United States in the global economy. As we are seeing in Mexico, the emergence of a diverse work force is synergistic with the fulfillment of basic human needs.

With a small investment, UNICEF calculates that for an extra $25 billion a year, we could control major childhood disease, cut child malnutrition in half, provide a basic education to all, provide safe sanitation to all, and make family planning available to all.

This is the same amount of money America spends on cigarettes in six months. I believe this to be the most intelligent investment America could make. Are we going to make these 35,000 a day customers or casualties?

John Dahlberg II


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