Fair Health CostsI am responding to Michael...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Fair Health Costs

I am responding to Michael J. Hurd's letter of June 8, "Government Raises Health Cost."

Although I agree with Mr. Hurd's basic premise that government intervention creates more problems than it ever solves, I take exception to the content of his letter.

Mr. Hurd was making a comparison between doctors, novelists, painters and inventors. There are libraries, museums and manufacturing corporations that take care of the cost for those that cannot afford to purchase the merchandise.

He also gives the impression that doctors are deserving of more consideration than others because of their skills.

I thought that to be rather arrogant and prejudiced.

What about the skills of firemen, policemen and teachers? They put their lives on the line for us.

Maybe they should create individual associations that operate like the American Medical Association. They could go to each community and, just like doctors, charge whatever the community could afford.

It's a shame that firemen, policemen and teachers are not free " . . . to compete without price controls or any government intervention . . . "

Mr. Hurd's opinion is very weak. There are federal, state, county and city agencies that take care of our community needs out of necessity.

I do not know the answer to our health care problem. I do know that medical costs must be taken seriously by everyone and, most important, by our doctors.

Hopefully, a more equitable policy will be instituted. Our children, the poor and the old deserve that much.

Lucille Bradstock-Siegel

Towson

Squeezing Taxes

Retired middle-income people are being severely hurt by the Clinton economic plan.

The Sun reported June 25 that households in the income range of $50,000 to $75,000 will have an average tax increase of $216. That is not very much if the money will truly reduce the deficit.

But the higher tax on Social Security payments will result in an additional tax in the range of $1,000 for a retired couple in that income range.

Retired people cannot recoup a loss of this magnitude. Pensions from former employers do not increase as the cost of living rises.

Income from investments purchased with savings while working has been steadily declining due to the low interest rates. The newly increased tax on corporate profits will also restrict income from stock dividends.

Why should retired middle-income people be squeezed so very much more than anyone else in proportion to their income?

Richard K. Eberts

Chestertown

A Matter of Style

Whatever faults President Clinton might have, stubbornness is not one of them. He realized a mistake had been made in the nomination of Lani Guinier as the top Justice Department official for civil rights and quickly withdrew her name.

Dr. Guiner's rationale is that her writings were exercises in academic writing, not her personally espoused views.

That defense lacks credibility.

Theo Lippman's June 10 column simplifies her erudition into the most common terms and adds to the justification for the withdrawal of the nomination.

Next to Lippman's column was a letter from Samuel L. Banks, written in his usual college professor style of exploring the far reaches of the English language. His responsibilities in the Baltimore City school system are misdirected.

He could better serve by having Superintendent Walter Amprey transfer him to the English department, where teachers would be directed by him to have high school students really learn to speak the English language -- a major weakness in the present school system.

Richard Lelonek

Baltimore

School Sports

I take exception to Tim Baker's point that playing in band (as an example) prepares a student for a career better than athletics because of the opportunity to perform under pressure (Opinion * Commentary, June 7).

Admittedly, I haven't been to many high school concerts, but I would wager that the percentage of kids who actually get to perform solos in public is far smaller than that of wrestlers who go to the mat, or sprinters who brave the 400-meter --, or lacrosse goalies who attempt save after save. These are not mindless endeavors -- they are tremendous mental and physical challenges.

As with any academic or non-academic activity the lesson is the same: perseverance and discipline bring reward and self-confidence.

Mr. Baker might argue that a good grade is more important than a varsity letter on a resume, which is true; however, having both is better, and a varsity letter is better than having neither.

And there are even further advantages to athletics -- a physically fit body is an asset to a healthy mind, and establishing good fitness habits early will be beneficial throughout one's life. I have a hard time finding a reason to condemn school athletics in any of this.

Notwithstanding parents and coaches who have their own fantasy-driven agendas, few students play sports with a resolute expectation of making a living at it, and not many students play sports for the macho image.

They play because it is fun. It brings balance to their lives. To some it is the only reason they are in school.

This obviously is not the message that Mr. Baker received during his high school years. He didn't grow up to be concert pianist or an NBA player, and neither will most kids.

Some grow up to be journalists who can handle deadline pressure regardless of whether they played trombone or

quarterback.

Liz Hasbrouck

Oxford

No Neutrality on Religion

In regards to Philip A. Stahl's letter June 29, "Aiding Religions," I full well understand his concerns regarding hard-earned tax money.

We who call ourselves Christians don't like our tax dollars spent directly or indirectly on things such as the National Endowment for the Arts "Piss Christ," for abortion, for homosexual causes, for free condoms, for free Norplants and the list goes on ad infinitum.

We feel the same trepidation when the Supreme Court justices slap 200 years of precedents in the face and remove prayer from schools. We Christians want to allow atheists and humanists the right to practice denials of God and biblical values, but please don't do it at the cost of hard-earned tax dollars ripped out of our pockets.

It is bad enough we as Christians face the prospects of four years of a presidency that talks like a Christian but acts like a humanist or atheist in his moral decisions. We have had years of a Supreme Court that has crammed secular humanism down our throats, and we have had hopes of changes in those courts also.

If atheists and humanists don't like prayer in schools, why don't they practice the old-fashioned American way and pay to start schools that will promote their beliefs without taking government money and without taking government schools that were established by people who wanted prayer in schools, chaplains in the military, chaplains in Congress and "In God We Trust" on their currency?

This is a diverse country, with diverse beliefs, and those beliefs were able to flourish in a Judeo-Christian atmosphere. Mr. Stahl should allow the atmosphere in which his humanism and secularism flourished to flourish also with some of the very same concerns.

Michael R. Fishback

Elkridge

____________

Philip Stahl's letter decrying the "intrusion" of religion into public life attempts to propagate the myth that there is such a thing as neutrality regarding religious belief -- some middle ground between belief and unbelief -- which public institutions can embrace.

Nothing could be more false. I submit that not only are the very terms mutually exclusive, but as a "famous man" once said, "You are either with me or against me."

Since there is no middle ground, I have to ask if self-proclaimed humanists and atheists have any more right to demand that public institutions reflect their life-view than do citizen-taxpayers a religious persuasion. I think not.

For many public institutions, the issue may not be all that relevant. But public schools are engaging in what is essentially a spiritual process (education) loaded with philosophical and religious value implications at every turn. Here it could not be more relevant.

And, since neutrality is an illusion, it is here that I think we have to ask if our children and society are better served by public schools that recognize (as did our Founding Fathers) the value of religion in maintaining that moral consensus which is the only real glue holding our society together, or by ones which are antagonistic toward religion of any kind.

John D. Schiavone

Kingsville

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