Don't buy the timber lobby's scare tactics
The good news, reported in The Evening Sun, is that the U.S. Forest Service is preparing a plan for phasing out taxpayer-subsidized timber sales in our national forests ("Forest Service wants to ax low-price logging," April 30).
The bad news is that companies who have ridden this government gravy train for so many years are mobilizing to block the initiative. They are claiming, for example, that the government actually loses money because of compliance with environmental standards.
Would critics argue that we should revert to the days when we played erosion roulette with watersheds that supply half the West's drinking water? Or that we should not worry about the impact on fish and wildlife?
Moreover, the highest cost for the U.S. Forest Service (i.e. taxpayers) stems from bulldozing roads to remote forest areas, often up steep hillsides.
The road system in our national forests is eight times the size of the interstate highway system.
The suggestion that phasing out subsidized sales will send lumber prices into a spiral is merely an industry attempt to create a backlash to the phase-out.
As The Evening Sun reported, national forests provide just 12 percent of the nation's timber, and timber from private lands can pick up any slack easily.
Industry is also claiming that efforts to protect some of the majestic ancient forests in the Northwest are driving up lumber prices. In fact, those prices, adjusted for inflation, are now lower than they were in 1979.
Naturally, those whose jobs are now in jeopardy are angry and frightened.
Programs are needed to help communities attract new industries and diversify their economies.
Many studies show that in the regions most affected, tourism, recreation and other businesses are overtaking logging and other extractive industries as sources of jobs. A tree left in the ground has more value to the local economy than it does riding out on a logging truck.
The time to fight these forces of change is over, especially when the environmental and fiscal payoffs are so high.
The writer, a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, is the founder of Earth Day.
War on drugs
I have just finished reading your article "Teen drug use growing in state" (May 4).
I vehemently oppose any more of my tax money going into drug education, drug enforcement or anything more to do with drugs.
We have been on the same road for 20 years. Our policies never change and never work.
Our schools, especially our middle and high schools, need to concentrate on a curriculum that will satisfy the majority of the students who have a goal and a desire to learn.
They no longer need to be preached to. These children are saturated with drug education from the time they are in the first grade. If it hasn't sunk in by the time they are 11 or 12 years old, it is not going to work.
We are bankrupting our country and our citizens with this so-called "war on drugs."
Both the enforcement and the preventive education have proven to be failures. Things have gotten worse instead of better. Now we have a drug czar who wants to center his attention on rehabilitation. Nice idea, but it sounds like more money down the drain.
You cannot rehabilitate a person who does not want to be rehabilitated. Any kind of an addiction is a mental and physical disease, and the individual has to be the one to initiate the rehabilitation, not the government.
I contend that as long as there are 13-, 14- and 15-year-old kids selling drugs, our drug problems will continue to soar.
The more customers they have, the more money they make. It's called free enterprise (only with no taxes or regulations). Unfortunately, in their business, with every new customer there is another lost soul.
What the government can do for these children is take the drugs off the streets, out of the schools and put them in a place where responsible adults are in charge.
Let the doctors and nurses deal with the drugs transmitted by needles and let the drug stores or the liquor stores handle the rest.
Instead of paying more in taxes we will actually for the first time get some new revenue and put some of these young people in the unemployment line.
Just maybe they will go back to school to learn.
Isn't it amazing that we are willing to bomb and slaughter total strangers -- Serbs -- while we lack the guts to dispatch those among us who murder and mutilate our own neighbors?
Instead, we give them air conditioning, color TV, medical care and early release.
Norman J. Dean
Larry Carson's article about the Baltimore County layoff process, May 7, gave the impression that 34 library workers laid off were simply part-time.
On the contrary, 23 full-time, experienced librarians were laid off.
I think the public should know this and understand why the remaining libraries seem harried, and that public service is slower than they would like or expect.
Nancy J. Liss
Where are the Islamic nations when it comes to defending the Muslims who are being destroyed in Bosnia?
They have the resources, the capability and the geographical advantage to stop the destruction of their people.
Aside from supplying arms, I have heard no outrage from the Muslim community, or any indication they are willing to defend their co-religionists. Why is this only a "Western" problem?
Florence S. Silverman
The news of Serbian atrocities against the Muslims in Bosnia is outrageous.
Children, women and men of all ages and kinds are being shelled for no other reason than to create terror, genocide and "ethnic cleansing."
With all this so obvious for the past several months, the western democracies, including the United States, still are standing idle.
What is being done is too little, too late. It resembles the appeasement of Hitler before World War II by the British.
If the Bosnians and Muslims had the oil Kuwait had, they would have been rescued like the emir of Kuwait.
Why the U.S. must intervene in Bosnia
When Bill Clinton was running for office he criticized George Bush for not taking a stronger stand in Bosnia. Yet, after four months in office he has done nothing except authorize airdrops of food and humanitarian aid.
Now, as before the election, he is non-specific as to what the U.S. and its allies ought to do.
In past conflicts the president has always taken the lead in articulating why the U.S. should become militarily involved. It was Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor, Truman in response to the invasion of Korea, Bush in response to the invasion of Kuwait.
But so far, Clinton has utterly failed to articulate to the American people why we should intervene militarily in Bosnia.
We are not talking about all-out war or the deployment of ground troops. We're simply talking about air strikes against Bosnian Serbs, who are deliberately targeting civilian populations and committing atrocities comparable to those of the Holocaust.
How many times does one have to see on television a child physically and emotionally scarred for life to know that we, as well as the community of nations, have both the right and the obligation to intervene militarily? One such case would be enough. Yet, this has been going on for almost a year.
The reason we couldn't stop such atrocities from happening in the past is that the warring parties were always divided into two camps, and there was no third nation or block of nations powerful enough or skillful enough to police a war.
But the conviction that the civilized world would have liked to have done so is illustrated by the fact that immediately following World War II war crimes trials were held to punish the offenders.
Yet here we are today with any number of third-party nations powerful enough to police a war and skillful enough to do it, in all probability with air power alone.
Yet, all they do is talk and threaten the offender with war crimes trials afterward, thus giving the ultimate expression to asininity.
If the world community has the right to put offenders on trial for war crimes after the fact, it certainly has the right to stop such crimes while they are taking place.
Michael E. Barrett