NAFTA No Treaty
Gilbert Lewthwaite referred several times to the North American Free Trade Agreement as a "treaty" in his Perspective article Sept. 12 on the effects of NAFTA on the U.S. economy. However, NAFTA is not a treaty. It is a trade agreement negotiated by the president under authority delegated by Congress.
Picky, picky, picky! Just like a trade lawyer.
But there is a real difference. For approval, a treaty would require a two-thirds vote in the Senate (only), whereas a trade agreement requires majority votes in both the Senate and the House.
Francis J. Gorman
Bentley on NAFTA
It would be very naive to accept at face value Rep. Helen D. Bentley's expressed constitutional concerns concerning the North American Free Trade Agreement as set forth in her letter to The Sun, Sept. 26.
Mrs. Bentley is no constitutional scholar, and there is nothing sinister in the doctrine (established since at least Missouri v. Holland) that treaties, as part of the supreme law of the land, necessarily reduce the power of Congress.
What is interesting is why the representative in Congress of the better part of a region surrounding a port should be so adamantly against free trade. And why a Republican should be against the expressed principles of her party.
The reason is that Mrs. Bentley, in this, is not your typical Republican. She is beholden to certain union interests and those interests are exceedingly narrow.
They refuse to accept that the world has entered into a global economy, and that ultimately we will be richer (as Adam Smith and the free market economists have taught) by each doing what he does best.
Had these union interests had their way, we would all still be driving badly designed and mechanically defective cars, with the occasional soda bottle encapsulated in a door, a gift as it were from the United Auto Workers.
I supported Mrs. Bentley before she was ever elected to Congress, and have supported her since, but no longer.
Whoever opposes her in the primary will have my support, and should she again be the nominee of our party, I might even do the unthinkable, support a Democrat, provided he or she adhered to what Mrs. Bentley does not, term limitations in all aspects of government, and free trade.
Robert J. Thieblot
Under President Clinton's proposal for the nation's health care system, federal law would declare that abortion is nothing more than a routine "reproductive health service."
All employers would be forced to provide their employees with coverage for abortion on demand. The taxpayer, whether he or she is opposed to abortion or not, will be forced to pay for approximately 40 percent of the cost of the premiums.
Government health programs should foster the well-being of all Americans.
I would say "U.S. citizens," but according to the Supreme Court, our unborn little ones are not citizens until they are born; therefore, their lives are not protected under the law.
Nevertheless, our health care system should protect all of our lives, not promote the destruction of some. Every abortion stops a beating heart -- indisputably.
President Clinton said he wanted to make abortion rare, but his proposals would only increase the killing of innocent unborn children.
I sincerely hope that our representatives in Congress oppose the inclusion of abortion as a "benefit" in the formation of our health care system.
John B. Althoff
Gov. William Donald Schaefer's recent initiatives to improve Baltimore-Washington International Airport are welcome.
However, they fall short of the most important task -- improving international service -- and we are at the 11th hour and counting.
In a shrinking world, BWI as an international gateway to Europe and Asia is absolutely critical -- now more so than the Port of Baltimore -- to the economic vitality of the region.
For the past decade, the Maryland Aviation Administration has not only failed to capitalize on advantages and opportunities to retain and attract international service but has gone backward, all the while cranking out hype to the contrary reminiscent of the Port Administration's performance before its apparent turn-around.
BWI needs fresh, high-level, expert talent immediately to formulate and implement an international strategy.
The governor's efforts to get local businesses to use BWI are also praiseworthy. By now, I hope he has dispatched an emissary to Black & Decker, which sends its employees to London via Dulles Airport.
Black & Decker's headquarters at Slough in England is closer to Heathrow Airport than Gatwick. But putting aside the question of corporate citizenship, if I were a Black & Decker employee, I would rather travel from Gatwick to Slough on the European end of my trip than drive back and forth from Dulles on this end.
Dulles is a hassle to get to and to use. Coming home from England is always the longest part of the trip. The short drive home from BWI sounds awfully good to me.
Year-Round Schools a 'Ridiculous' Idea
I am a working mother of four children in elementary, middle and high schools who finds Gov. William Donald Schaefer and school administrators who want full-time schooling, the most ridiculous thing ever. I do not personally know of one parent who likes the idea of year-round schooling. This plan will never work for numerous reasons, of which I will name a few:
1. As a former home day-care provider, we were only allowed a certain number of children into our homes. How will the working parents of today, if this plan is implemented, find some place for their children? The day care centers also need to book themselves full to be profitable, as do home providers. They will all lose out.
2. Teens in their working years will need to find work to pay for cars, insurance, college, etc. Some find work at vacation resorts and other seasonal jobs (i.e., lawn care, landscaping, etc.). Resorts need to fill employees when summer is in season. If the kids are still in school, how will employers find seasonal help? The Worcester County school system already has taken this fact into consideration and ruled against year-round schools.
3. Older children usually watch their younger brothers and sisters in the summer, especially in families that are strapped financially. If the older child is still in school in the summer, then the parent(s) will have to find a sitter. And that might become a problem in itself. (See problem No. 1.)
4. Families take vacation mostly in the summer. If any of their kids are still in school, those children will miss school when their parents pull them out to go on vacation.
5. Little League, swimming lessons, etc., that children take part in during the summer will slow down considerably due to school work coming first. Our daughter, who is in a majorette group that practices all winter to perform all summer in parades, will probably have to drop out or cut back, as will most of the other girls, because of school work.
6. Some children of divorced families spend the school year with one parent, and the summer with another. These families will now have to be constantly swapping kids during these numerous "breaks" from school, and that will mean the kids will be traveling back and forth more often.
The biggest reason that the schools are overcrowded, especially in my area, is that the builders are allowed to build more and more homes in the areas where the schools are already overcrowded. When that happens, someone should realize that there will be a need for more schools.
I do agree with Governor Schaefer and the others on only one thing -- we do need to utilize our schools in the summer. Instead of the kids going to school and doing school work, how about summer recreation programs? Some schools have them now through the rec councils, and as a parent who enrolled three of her kids in one, we really loved it and they did not vegetate.
The middle schools can have "summer camp" programs for the ages of the children who go there, as well as the elementary schools. The high schools can host continuing education classes there. And area colleges can rent space for college courses. There are more activities that the children can do in the summer than I've named here.
The list goes on and on, and makes a lot more sense than the ideas that the governor and administrators have now.