Buying VotesYoung people got a lesson in...


Buying Votes

Young people got a lesson in how our democracy works recently: "Come into my parlor; I massage your back, then you massage my back. And use plenty of lotion; it's all paid for by the taxpayers."

Look, if Bill Clinton can buy votes, why can't that lady governor in New Jersey do the same?

Ben Sauter


Outpatient Center

Richard O'Mara's piece about Johns Hopkins' Outpatient Center was disappointing.

The building is not a white elephant, nor is it "lavish." Patients and staff are uniformly delighted with it. It is accessible, safe, comfortable and efficient. We who work there receive compliments on our clinic every day.

Far from its being a white elephant, our current concern is that it may not have been big enough. Building Design and Construction call it "all clean lines, simple geometries and no-frills finishes . . . institutional in nature, uncluttered by ornament or ostentation." Hardly lavish.

Your correspondent paints a picture of an institution for which patient care is a new and unwelcome activity. Not so. Hopkins doctors are committed to clinical care. We enjoy it and we're delighted to have a building where we can do it well.

Thomas Traill, M.D.


The writer is associate professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Science Fraud

The scientific community takes dishonesty very seriously. Research universities carefully investigate charges of suspected fraud and punish guilty faculty and students. Guilty students have been expelled and guilty scientists have been barred from research and teaching.

Although these deplorable incidents of fraud are rare and generally not publicized, the cases are known among faculty and students because of the severe sanctions levied against guilty individuals.

Thus it is not surprising that a survey of science faculty and students by Judith Swazey et al. (American Scientist Vol. 81) found that 6 to 9 percent of respondents had some personal knowledge of fraud by faculty members (defined by the National Academy of Science as " fabrication, falsification or plagiarism in proposing or reporting research.")

In spite of occasional cases of fraud, the vast bulk of the scientific literature is accurate. After rigorous per review and revision, the papers published in leading scientific journals are among the most reliable sources of information in our society.

Daniel Greenberg used the Swazey report to take the scientific community to task for failing to "demonstrate a deep distaste for misconduct and a willingness to crack down on it" (Opinion * Commentary Nov. 30).

Greenberg states falsely that the Swazey article found that "faculty reported a high incidence of plagiarism among the graduate students and a lesser, though not insignificant, amount among faculty colleagues."

Quite to the contrary, Swazey et al. state clearly, "Our results do not measure the actual frequency of misconduct -- instead, our questionnaires sought rates of exposure to perceived misconduct. One cannot estimate from our data what percentage of faculty or graduate students in a given department or in the four disciplines may be engaging in a particular type of misconduct or questionable research practice."

Given these caveats by the authors themselves, it is unfair of Greenberg to cite the Swazey study as evidence for a high incidence of fraud in science.

Greenberg misleads readers by selectively omitting essential details about the Swazey study. For example, he writes "about 20 percent of the faculty claimed personal knowledge of colleagues ignoring regulations governing research on humans and animals." Swazey actually asked if the respondent "observed or had other direct evidence of others' ignoring research policies (animal care, human subjects, biosafety, etc)." Greenberg omits "biosafety, etc", the categories where violations are most likely.

For example, disposing of broken glass in a laboratory trash can is a biosafety violation vastly more prevalent than cases of ignoring human research protocols.

Selectively presenting data and misquoting published work are forms of misconduct in science. The same standards should apply on The Sun's pages, particularly when the article concerns alleged misconduct in science.

Thomas D. Pollard


The writer is professor of cell biology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a past president of the Biophysicial Society.

Out of Business

The article "For one day, Baltimoreans make a street corner stand" (Nov. 27) gave a more compelling message in the title than in the content of the article.

For one day, the street corners of Baltimore were ours again when community residents, church groups, city officials and police officers participated in the "Going Out of Business Day" event to keep drug dealers from selling drugs on city streets.

Participants stood in large groups on various Baltimore city street corners known for drug sales holding anti-drug signs.

For one day, the streets were ours again. Drug dealers and their customers however, occupy the city street corners the other 364 days out of the year.

The article recognized protesters were not pretending the one-day effort would have any lasting impact on our city's drug problem. There was, however, only one mention in the article of members of local churches who talked about continuing to physically take back street corners on a regular basis.

It is time to start taking action. Help to encourage your church or community to organize groups to stand on street corners on a regular basis. Let's put drug dealers out of business on our streets today, tomorrow and every day.

Michelle Klein


Gun License

Now that the Brady Bill has been passed and the American public is at a peak of impatience over guns, more constructive action should be taken immediately.

A driver of a car must have a registration card on his person (or in his car) at all times. He must have his driver's license with him, too.

Since guns are killing as many or more people than cars, why can't a similar law be enacted for guns?

Why can't every person with a gun now in his possession be required to carry a license on his person at all times?

If a person is caught carrying a gun for any reason without license, it is the same offense as driving a car without license or registration.

Oh, my detractors say, we wouldn't have enough police to carry out those checks. We wouldn't have enough jails to house those scofflaws. Well, we had better get them before we have total annihilation from guns.

J. G. Beck


Time to Apply Reality to Welfare System

Carl Rowan's liberal heart never stops bleeding and his knees never stop jerking. This time, in his Nov. 24 column on The Sun's op-ed page, he is upset about the prospect of welfare recipients having their free ride come to a screeching halt after two years. He seems to have forgotten that the welfare system was intended to be a temporary "safety net" instead of a permanent way of life to be passed down to the next generation.

If you didn't know, there is a proposal making the rounds these days that would cut off welfare benefits after two years if the recipient doesn't obtain a self-sustaining job. And, as usual, this is racist. Even though more whites receive welfare than any other racial group in the U.S., it is still viewed as racist when whites have anything negative to say about welfare recipients. I am fed up with the accusations of racism and the distortion of the facts by the liberal media and the liberal politicians as they rail against the "welfare myths." One "myth" is the belief that people on welfare are lazy and disinterested in work. Well, there are reasons why so many people believe these "myths."

As a case in point, there was an apparently little-noticed story in The Sun a few weeks ago concerning the low turnout for a city-run jobs program. (And we all know how the liberal activists demand jobs.) The program here is the Step Up program that is to be funded with a federal resident-initiative grant. The first key word here is "initiative."

The second key word here is "federal," meaning tax dollars, as in money taken from me to cure society's ills. This program intends to pay and train public housing residents to learn a construction trade while actually doing work.

Well, there wasn't exactly a stampede to apply for these jobs. The city was taking applications at seven locations. At one location, only 10 applications had been received in the first hour and at another location none had been received by noon. By day's end, the Housing Authority was saying that the turnout was low at all locations and that they were surprised.

For several sarcastic reasons, I am not surprised. But let's start the healing process, as Jesse Jackson says. First, I want to know why it wasn't mandatory to submit an application. Even people receiving unemployment benefits are required to search for work in order to remain eligible for benefits.

Why is there a double standard here? Whatever the end result of this jobs program is, it is obvious that there was no urgency among most of the 17,000 adults living in public housing in Baltimore to attempt to secure one of these jobs.

As for the people who did apply, they are to be commended for their initiative and ambition. The city should make their names available to employers who may be interested in hiring them when this program is completed. Although this is only a small step towards progress for those in poverty, it is better than the shameless defense of a welfare system that has been a catastrophic failure and the incessant whining about victimization that characterizes so much liberal rhetoric.

Also, no matter how politically incorrect it is, we must stop pretending that everybody on welfare is somehow a "victim" of some form of prejudice. For a variety of reasons, many are simply unmotivated. The primary motivating factor that gets the working people out of bed every morning is the fear and realization that if they don't maintain employment, they would not have the same standard of living to which they are accustomed. It's time that this same psychology and reality be applied to the non-working members of our "Great Society."

If the politicians can ever bring themselves to apply this and to stop their phony posturing, then we may see true welfare reform. As it stands now, they are too intimidated by the fear of offending the minorities to do what is long overdue.

Greg Sinners


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