False HopeAs a female with multiple sclerosis,...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

False Hope

As a female with multiple sclerosis, I feel it necessary to address your recent article concerning the experimental drug beta interferon. The March 23 article left out very important information, thus creating a very deceiving air of hope for MS sufferers. . .

At this point in the research, beta interferon is not for use for all MS sufferers. In actuality, it is only known to show promise in the 30 percent of people with MS showing a mild-to-moderate, exacerbating-remitting form of the disease.

Shirley Goren

Baltimore

Comparative Costs

Maryland is a state of democrats, which should mean that the rights of the many are held sacred. In practice, Maryland allows the plundering to enrich a few, who rob us of money, health and quality of life.

Recently, The Sun reported on a swimming pond polluted by one farm's runoff of cattle manure. The state said "stop." After five years, the pond is still polluted and unusable.

The stump dump burned for more than a year, during which the state ordered the owner to stop feeding the fire. Now it costs us taxpayers about $1 million to extinguish a fire that enriched only one man and made thousands miserable.

Another Sun story tells of an auto crusher in the city. Its neighbors have endured pollution and chunks of hot metal thrown through the walls of their houses for 20 years.

The state whispered "Stop." The state should require the auto crusher to operate inside a closed building -- with its exhaust cleaned and its pollution kept from us -- or require the crusher to move to a place where people do not care.

I hope it is so far downwind from us. In Towson, I cannot hang wet clothes outside when the wind is from the south. Pollution makes my skin red and my eyes itch.

"Costs money," you say. This area has the highest cancer rate in the country. That costs far more -- in money, suffering and early death.

Harry Leffmann

Towson

Educational Bog

I ran across a Sun editorial from 1978 concerning the two colleges on the Eastern Shore. It seemed to mention some of the same problems facing the state today.

Dr. Sheldon Knorr's recommendation that his board (Maryland Board for Higher Education) "take 'all reasonable action within its legal authority' to eliminate duplication and waste in programs at UMES and Salisbury State" might have been stated today. Has the situation really changed after 15 years?

A later statement by The Sun also seems to be appropriate today. "Certainly if there is to be a UMES, it should be much stronger educationally today. But the burden of proof remains on the higher-education board to demonstrate, politics aside, that the best course for Maryland taxpayers is to continue to support two separate, close-together campuses, one mostly white and the other mostly black, with the latter relying heavily on out-of-state students to stay alive." Is the situation any different now?

The Sun's final remark -- "And we hope Maryland legislators will insist on a progress report before their current session ends" is interesting. What about an accounting for the taxpayer by someone without a vested interest before the end of the century?

This is why Maryland continues to wallow in a bog of educational mediocrity. It is simply because the educational and political bureaucracies, coddled by the press, have become firmly entrenched and define progress as the retention of their jobs and fiefdoms. Just give them more money and we will have a world-class systems in the future!

R. D. Bush

Columbia

Birth Rates

The Associated Press article (March 2) reporting a decline in Third World birth rates due to increased availability of birth control is good news, but it contained a few misleading statements.

The number of people alive today is not just "heading for 6 billion." It is almost there. We passed the 5.5 billion mark some time in the fall of 1992. Experts predict the population will double again in about 40 years, with dire consequences for the environment and the health and well-being of all of us.

A 1974 study ordered by former President Nixon concluded that over-population poses "a major risk of severe damage to world economic, political and ecological systems and, as these systems begin to fall, to our humanitarian values."

It also concluded that expenditures for family planning are generally one of the most effective investments a less developed country can make to improve overall welfare and per capita economic growth.

A fertility rate of four children per couple is still too high. Even at "replacement fertility" of 2.1 children per couple, the population would take years to become stable because there is currently a high proportion of young people.

The article was very accurate in the statement that there is still a long way to go.

Marion C. Mashburn

Owings Mills

The Endangered Maryland Farmer

Move over, buffalo, rhino, dinosaur. Another species is coming to join your ranks of endangered and extinct -- the Maryland farmer. Let me go back several years and describe the plight of the farmer in Baltimore County, for example.

Urban to suburban. Businesses moving from the city to the county creating industrial parks and residential developments encouraged the sale of farmland. Inevitable, it can be argued. True, I say.

Planning and zoning boards realizing rampant suburban sprawl now want to put a screeching halt to the development of farmland by using the RC-2 zoning of one house per 50 acres.

The lot owner recently moved to the country wants to preserve his panoramic view of the wide open spaces on the farm next door, a place for his kids and dogs to run free.

Consider the farmer for a minute. That ground he has so devotedly tended over the years was -- I say was -- his bankroll, his retirement. Farmers don't have Keoghs and tax-deferred retirement plans. Their land is their retirement, their estate.

The local, state and federal governments want to reduce the value of that property greatly by making agricultural land untouchable for development.

The community associations, made up primarily of displaced city fTC folk, are against any further development. They have their little green acre and now don't want another house in the corn field next door.

Let's discuss another affront. A farmer is now a "steward of the land." Hey, what happened to the word land-owner?

No one cares more for his land than the farmer. He understands what is good or harmful to the environment; it is his livelihood. It has become trendy in the 1990s to be an environmentalist; in fact, it has become trendy to be trendy.

However, as some great scientist stated, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Over-protect the farmland and one day there will be no farms only wildlife preserves, no farmers only game wardens and park rangers. Where will the food come from?

A bill was introduced in the Baltimore County Council that would require all streams on farms to be fenced in so that the banks can become overgrown and the aquatic life can flourish. Cattle would no longer drink from the fresh running water; other provisions would have to be made.

At whose expense? You guessed it, the farmer's. The expense of the fencing would be the farmer's, thousands of dollars he can ill afford, not to mention the loss of the use of his own land.

There was a movement at the state level to do away with the Department of Agriculture, merging it with the Department of Natural Resources. To do this would eliminate the only powerful voice in Annapolis the farmers have to present their opinions to the governor and legislature.

This would have been just another nail in the farmer's coffin. Many programs to benefit agriculture have already been slashed from the state budget, including money for agricultural studies at the University of Maryland.

The Environmental Protection Agency made a study a few years ago, costing millions of dollars, to discover the damaging effect to the ozone layer from the gas expelled from cattle. Give me a break!

Eons ago, huge herds of animals roamed the earth. If the gas from animals was harmful to the ozone layer, the damage would already have been done, not to mention the fact the earth could have been blasted out of orbit!

Listen when I say that instead of giving it to the farmer on the chin, compensate him for your new rules and regulations with easement programs.

Remember, he puts the food on your table, not the Giant or Safeway. He should be respected and revered as his is probably the oldest occupation on earth.

P. J. Gaver

Phoenix

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