Politicians are trading on citizens' fear, anger and disgust with crime to propose immensely expensive solutions that amount to "lock 'em up and throw away the key."
Del. Ellen Sauerbrey, who bills herself as a conservative, proposes spending literally hundreds of millions of dollars for more prisons, followed indefinitely by additional millions for keeping people in those prisons. Is that conservative?
A conservative automatically opposes additional taxes, so those hundreds of millions will have to come from other state programs.
Would Ms. Sauerbrey take them from school construction and school support? From senior citizen programs? From drug treatment services? From school lunch programs? She should be prepared to answer a lot of questions.
Prospective congressional candidate Gerry Brewster really descended into the pits when he spoke of his opposition to "the pro-criminal lobby."
He knows that nobody is pro-criminal, but that comment will appeal to simple folk, and simple folk will vote.
Mr. Brewster must have been referring to people who insist that all defendants in criminal trials must have the protections of the Bill of Rights. Calling them pro-criminal is vicious demagoguery.
Carleton W. Brown
The Dec. 15 editorial in The Sun describes the use of scrap tire rubber in hot mix asphalt.
Maryland, as well as every state, will be required by the federal government to incorporate used tires in its hot mix asphalt beginning October 1994.
The original implementation date of October 1993 was set aside by Congress. The concern is the lack of research and uncertainty about pavement performance and ability to recycle.
The ability to recycle this product is critical. What happens if the addition of scrap tire rubber to a ton of hot mix asphalt renders it not recyclable? We have a 2,000-pound solid waste disposal crisis, which is not in the best interests of our environment or our roadway system.
The editorial correctly states that scrap tire rubber asphalt is twice as costly as straight asphalt. Due to this additional cost, when we are working with a set amount of funds, only one-half of the lane miles of paving are possible to pave. The net result is fewer jobs and poorer roadway conditions.
There can be no question that the problem of how we dispose of our scrap tires is one which must be resolved.
There is an answer. Our elected representatives in Congress must allow the states flexibility in how they dispose of their scrap tires.
There are other proven uses of scrap tires, such as fuels for power plants and cement kilns, embankment fills and a variety of other practical applications. Simply to require the use of scrap tires in hot mix asphalt is not the best answer.
There is a bigger problem to deal with, and this solution only makes it worse: unemployment, especially a lack of jobs for the less educated and poorer sectors of our population. The roadway construction and rehabilitation industry stands ready to reduce the unemployment problem.
With a properly funded federal highway program, a large part of the problem is resolved. In addition, the economy is improved and our roadway infrastructure receives a badly needed overhaul.
Robert E. Sewell
The writer is executive director of the Maryland Asphalt Association Inc.
Prof. Martin E. Nelson's Dec. 14 Opinion * Commentary article, "Atoms for Peace," correctly states "that the only way to produce large amounts of power without pouring more carbon )) dioxide into the atmosphere is to use nuclear power."
Our need for electricity is growing. We need to plan now for the future of our children and grandchildren.
In 1987, addressing the Moscow Forum for a Non-Nuclear World for the Survival of Mankind, Andrei Sakharov stated: "Nuclear weapons divide and threaten mankind. But there are peaceful uses of nuclear energy that should promote the unity of mankind.
"The aversion people rightly feel for military applications must not spill over to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Mankind cannot do without nuclear power."
It should be noted that leading industrial nations rely on nuclear power to increase their energy independence and economic growth. Nuclear generators now supply 70 percent of France's, 55 percent of South Korea's and 37 percent of Japan's electricity, but only about 20 percent of total U.S. electric power.
The facts show that the safety and environmental record of Western, non-Chernobyl, nuclear power has been outstanding.
No death or serious injury has been caused by radiation from any U.S.-type light-water reactor in the more than 30 years of commercial nuclear power.
The United States now imports more than 50 percent of its oil requirements.
Increased use of nuclear power is essential to meet our country's ever-growing demand for electricity and reduce the threat to our security from dependence on imported oil and the threat to our environment from increasing use of fossil fuels.
African-Americans and the American Dream
I am replying to the letter written by Karen Hart, "Compensate All," in The Sun Dec. 12.
I agree that other groups were persecuted and exploited in some form or another at some time in American history, but African- Americans in this country were and still are persecuted and exploited in all forms at all times.
If you don't believe me, pick a prison or correction facility in any state (except for the white-collar "prisons") and look at the color of the majority of the people residing in those facilities. Glance at the race statistics for the highest number of people unemployed, and on drugs or alcohol.
The laws are stricter for us (for example, see Mike Tyson's rape case vs. William Kennedy Smith's, or Rodney King's case vs. Reginald Denny's).
We're in the perpetual cycle of being the last hired and the first fired, and drugs and alcohol are deliberately flooded into our neighborhoods.
It seems that after slavery, America had no more use for us and so has subtly programmed us for failure or extinction.
She stated that many other groups of people (Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans, Jews, etc.) came to this country with no more than the clothes on their backs and were pushed into working in bad conditions for poor wages, and so were worse off than the slaves who had food, shelter, clothing, etc.
To this I wish to point out to you that the operative words in her paragraph are that "groups of people came to this country." They came here -- indicating self-choice.
They were unlike our ancestors, who were hunted down and captured like animals, brought here against their will in chains and forced to work without any wages, were stripped of their very names, forbidden to practice their culture, speak their languages, were routinely separated from their families and weren't even considered citizens.
It must be a wonderful feeling to know that Ms. Hart's family name does indeed belong to her family and can be traced back to some specific distant land, while the surnames of the majority of African- Americans residing in this country are the surnames of the masters who owned our ancestors.
If she thinks the conditions of our ancestors were much better off than others, then she needs to treat herself to a guided tour of a nearby plantation. There she will be informed of the foods we were forced to eat -- cornmeal grains, hog scraps and entrails -- and that a "kind" master provided each slave with one outfit a year, that we were forced to perform our "jobs" by the sting and the threat of the sting of the whip.
But there is one thing she won't be able to "tour," and that is the shelter where the slave resided, mainly because it was of such poor construction it did not withstand the test of time, unlike the shelter of an indentured servant, examples of which you can still view to this day.
I'd also like to comment on her statement that anyone can overcome adversity and improve life for future generations, and we should teach our children to fight for what they believe in.
But our history has shown us clearly that when we fight violently or even peaceably, there is often bloodshed, jail terms and ultimately assassinations of our leaders.
I would like to inform Ms. Hart and others out there who think like her that we don't expect our lot to be improved simply because of our ancestry -- heaven forbid we should even consider such a thing.
We have no more reason to expect anything from this country than does the Native American. But we do expect to at least be treated as equal human beings and given a fair chance at achieving the American dream. For that, we feel payment is long overdue.