My recent testimony before the House Economic Matters Committee was mischaracterized as presenting "a gloomy assessment of Maryland's economy." Lest there be any doubt, I am decidedly upbeat about our medium and long-term prospects.
My current position carries with it a responsibility to present informed, objective assessments of the state economy from time to time. The initial thrust of my presentation was to explain why it has been that Maryland has suffered the effects of the recent recession more severely than much of the rest of the nation.
I pointed to the continued erosion of our manufacturing base, the heavy dependence on defense contracting, the ongoing effects of restructuring, the incorporation of technology (computers) into the workplace and an overreliance on construction during the overheated eighties.
All of these factors figure in Maryland's slow recovery from recession. Nonetheless, as I pointed out to the Economic Matters Committee, our belief is that Maryland is blessed with enviable strength which should serve to accelerate the pace of recovery.
Our market is among the largest and most affluent in the nation. We possess the nation's largest concentration of scientists and engineers. Our proximity to Washington is an incomparable asset. A tradition of strategic investments in infrastructure serves us very well, both now and for the future.
A location near the center of the East Coast megalopolis is a major source of strength. Our unparalleled concentration of federal laboratories, combined with our world-class institutions of higher education, will serve us admirably in the new technological era.
This is no time for wringing our hands. With consistently strong support from Governor Schaefer and the General Assembly, we have been modernizing our manufacturing base; commercializing new technologies with special emphasis on information processing, environmental products and services, aerospace and life science; committing to new approaches toward workforce development and exploiting our enormous tourism potential.
We also have been internationalizing the Maryland economy; ensuring full participation by small and minority business and pursuing our special potential for attracting distribution activity.
The hand we have been dealt is a powerful one, indeed. Our challenge is to play it with skill and foresight. The Maryland economy is poised for resurgence.
Mark L. Wasserman
The writer is the Maryland secretary of economic and employment development.
I could not but help laugh at A. S. Gray's letter of Nov. 11 regarding skin tones. The individual wrote that he or she had never seen a "black" person, only brown, beige and gold, and that "colored" was his or her word of choice for such persons.
I have never seen a "white" person either, only peach, pink and salmon. The last time that I looked at a big crayon box, there were "64 brilliant colors," including all of the above. "Colored" would appear to encompass the entire human race. That suits me fine.
Patricia S. Atkins
An AP article Nov. 17 ("2.6 million in full day nursery schools,") based on the Census Bureau report by Robert Kominski, cited many statistics about pre-school children attending nursery schools and why parents choose this type of program.
However, the reader is left with the impression that day care programs are not equivalent to, or even close to, nursery schools or Head Start programs in providing educational experiences for young children.
Day care centers are regulated, licensed, educational facilities. Day care providers do not just "watch" children.
Day care providers are educated individuals who teach and interact with the children in their care. They are required to take continuing education courses yearly and often hold two to four year degrees in early childhood development or education.
Perhaps Mr. Kominski should take a closer look at day care. He may discover something wonderful instead of "the last result" if you cannot get your child into a Head Start or nursery school program.
A Compassionate Healer
I cannot recall ever feeling a more certain perception of injustice than in the recent prosecution of Dr. George Elias.
Nor can I recall a remotely similar need to try and express in words what I understand to be the bond that exists between patients who entrust their lives to doctors and doctors who accept that trust.
Dr. Elias, by his medical skill, literally saved my life. I am aware that some might read this letter as a predictable response brought on by a sense of emotional indebtedness to Dr. Elias. However, that would be a very shallow interpretation of my five years under his medical care.
I owe my life, in part, to the extraordinary skill and knowledge of this physician. Yet his absolute belief in the possibility of life for me and many other patients of whom I have direct knowledge goes well beyond his surgical skill.
Dr. Elias allowed me to regain hope by the example of his humanity. His gentle, compassionate treatment rose above his clinical understanding of my condition and engendered in me true faith.
I wish that every person facing oncological surgery might find a doctor of his moral and medical stature.
I ask only that his acts and accomplishments in medicine be reviewed in light of his interest in and commitment to his patients.
He is a doctor totally devoted to his patients' well-being, both physical and emotional.
The accusations brought against him are contrary to everything I have experienced in my five years under his care.
I expect justice to prevail.
M. Ellis Denny
Beware of Russian Imperialism
The Nov. 12 editorial, "Nuclear Problem Powers," draws a simplistic conclusion that "Ukraine is in such economic and political disarray that its top leaders seem unable to fulfill their international pledges," without mentioning that Russian imperialism may be a factor.
In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 28, Russia's Foreign Minister Andrei V. Kozyrev again surfaced the "near abroad" proposal by suggesting that the U.N. sanction Russia as the peacekeeper in the territory of the former Soviet Union.
After some rhetoric about the possible involvement of the U.N. and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Mr. Kozyrev stated that "of course, Russia realizes that no international organization or group of states can replace our peacemaking efforts in this specific post-Soviet space."
Russian President Boris Yeltsin requested earlier this year that Russia be given special powers in the areas formerly controlled by the Soviet Union. At the time, the Western countries rightly rejected that proposal.
Former Soviet troops, under the command of the Russian Federation, still remain stationed in neighboring states and participate actively and passively in projecting Russian interests. Is the purpose of keeping its troops in the former Soviet republics to help regimes friendly to Moscow gain control by force, as was the case in Azerbaijan?
It was only under extreme pressure from the Western countries that Russia lived up to its agreement to withdraw its troops from Lithuania in August.
At the same time, Russia used the old Soviet tactic of divide and conquer in Georgia by first supporting the opposition, forcing Eduard Shevardnadze to come to Moscow begging for aid and for Georgia's admission to the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Russian forces are now back on Georgian soil supporting the Shevardnadze government.
At international forums, Mr. Yeltsin and Mr. Kozyrev have voted in favor of resolutions for unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia and Latvia, while Russia's Defense Minister Pavel Grachev is practicing the "near abroad" policy back home by refusing to remove the troops.
The security concerns of Russia's neighbors need to be considered in arriving at solutions. If Ukraine hands over its nuclear weapons to Russia, who will guarantee that Russia will not use nuclear blackmail or some other tactic to force Ukraine back into the empire?
Similarly, Russia wants to maintain control over some former Soviet military installations located on the sovereign territory of Latvia until 2003.
Mr. Yeltsin recently threatened Estonia that the "Russian side has the means to remind it" of geopolitical and demographic realities in conjunction with the passage of the alien registration law. Is one of the "means" the potential use of the Russian 144th Motorized Rifle Division stationed within minutes of the Estonian parliament building?
Should the U.S. team up with Russia, as the editorial suggests, to impose an economic blockade against Ukraine which could result in the restoration of the empire under Russian control with the potential for starting the Cold War and the arms race over again? The restoration of the Russian empire would not be in the security interests of the U.S.
The writer is chairman of the Joint Baltic American National Committee and Vice President of the Estonian American National Council.