A spokesperson for the League of Women Voters believes that physicians who have taken the Hippocratic Oath and pledged to "first do no harm" should not have a voice in health care reform.
How many members of Hillary Clinton's health task force pledged to do no harm? The league must also feel that mothers concerned for their child's economic future, taxpayers concerned by the national debt and patriots opposed to the Marxist agenda are special interests that should not have a hand in shaping policy.
In the past, a special interest was defined as a group hoping to obtain some personal financial gain at the taxpayers' expense.
This would include bureaucrats hoping to expand big government and enhance their job security. It would include supplicants hoping to get their hands on a new entitlement. It would include big business interests hoping to dump expensive retiree health benefits on the American taxpayer.
It would also include the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation, which promote the interests of health maintenance organizations.
All of these groups were well represented on the health care task force.
The league has redefined a special interest as anyone opposed to higher taxes, expanded entitlement spending and Orwellian big government. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Must confess to being a member of a special interest group based on the new definition.
It is time the league supported free-market solutions in health care, like medical IRAs and patient-owned insurance policies.
It is time the League of Women Voters got back on course as a nonpartisan, pro-democracy and pro-fair elections advocate, instead of remaining a mouthpiece for the radical left-wing agenda.
$Nancy L. Centofante, M.D.
Visit to Syria
My recent two-week visit to Syria was an enlightening experience. Friends wondered why my wife and I would venture to "such a troubled and dangerous part of the world."
This was a tour of the country which covered religious and archaeological sites dating back thousands of years B.C. During that period, inhabitants of the area gave us the alphabet, the system of Arabic numerals, methods of irrigation and the first recorded musical notes.
My interest also was to visit my roots and to see the farm which my parents left around 1906 because of the Ottoman occupation. My first cousins still live in the nearby village and on the family farm which borders the Mediterranean Sea.
We left the tour for one day and had a feast of ethnic foods with family and friends. What a thrill it was to see the family farm, the village and the church there. (Christians make up 10-12 percent of Syria's population.)
We found Syria to be self-sufficient in agricultural products. The people were well fed, educated and aware of Western traditions.
The people throughout the country love Americans and wish to be liked by Americans. And, of course, many wish to come to America.
We found that reports presented by the news media in America regarding Syria were quite different from what we observed of daily life of the people in this ancient land.
There was little evidence of military or police presence in our travels, except police directing traffic in large cities.
We saw no poor, no panhandlers or homeless. After visiting a restaurant in a souk late at night, one felt completely safe walking through the dimly lighted alleyways.
We observed no public drunkenness, drug or criminal activity. There was new construction for housing and public buildings under way throughout the country.
Colts Any Other Name
I suggest that the CFL Baltimore team be officially named the Baltimore Ponies (pronounced Colts).
William D. Townsend
Since the Nasty Football League (NFL) won't let us have the name Colts, why not call them the Baltimore Steeds (Colts grown up)?
Why not call the team the Baltimore Horses?
For centuries, the horse has served mankind well with its intelligence, strength and speed, all qualities needed to make a winning team.
More importantly, Baltimore and Maryland are famous for horse breeding and racing, with Pimlico and the Preakness and the great timber races culminating in the Maryland Hunt Cup.
In the golden years of the Colts, we sometimes referred to the team by the synonym, "Horses." It would be very appropriate to call our team the Horses, a name with real significance in this area.
George D. Solter
O.K., so we're no longer the Colts. Well, hopefully we've grown a little over the past 10 years, grown away a bit from the infamous Irsay move.
Now let's allow the team to grow up, too.
So how does this sound? The Baltimore Steeds.
A "horse" by any other name (or age) would dwell as sweet. (Apologies to Mr. Shakespeare.)
$Virginia H. S. Hoffmaster
Revamping United Way's Campaign
I am writing in response to the June 24 article concerning the Central Maryland United Way's plan to revamp its workplace campaign policies.
In a time when most local United Ways are trying to open up their campaigns to respond to the donors' cry for more choice in giving, the CMUW has decided to slam the door on the donors' right to choose.
It is promising a reduction in the number of qualified organizations that can receive employee donations through the "Donor Option" program. Whose campaign is it, anyway?
The CMUW is a vendor of workplace campaigns. The corporations and employees it provides this service to are the clients.
After all, it is really just like a 401K plan or other employee benefit program a corporation can offer. It is simply a yearly opportunity to give to the charity of your choice at your workplace. The CMUW would have us believe that it is the only choice.
How many of us would allow a vendor to tell us what we can and can't do with our money?
If our office investment vendor, the company providing us with a retirement plan, told us that we had to keep our monthly retirement contributions in a risky stock fund and nowhere else, how long would we give them our business?
The donors are the client, and they have asked for choice. The CMUW says that a gift to them is a gift to the community.
What about the people who care about animals, the environment, or gay/lesbian rights? These donors are not represented by the traditional United Way organizations.
"Universal donor access to qualified 501(c)(3) charitable organizations" should be the battle cry. The United Way has done more good for the community than any other non-religious organization over the last 100 years, but this "our way or the highway" mentality will only alienate donors and drive the campaign into the ground.
A gift to the community can take many forms. We in the charitable community need to be focusing on the intrinsic value of charitable giving and its benefits to the donor as well as the community.
It is the pebble in the pond approach of letting each individual find a way to make a difference that will do the most good for Baltimore and America in general.
Our job should be to announce the beginning of a charitable season in the workplace each year and let the donors decide how to address their need to give.
I would ask the CMUW to open up and not turn its back on the constituency that built it into what it is today.
The writer is Baltimore/Washington director of Local Independent Charities.