Poor Mail Service
The letter of Frank B. Hall (July 21) regarding our post office states the facts but does not give us a solution.
During my lifetime the price of a first class letter has gone from three cents to 29 cents, but we have no right to complain about this, since the dollar has gone down in value to 5 percent of its former value.
Our complaint goes to the inadequate present system. As Mr. Hall suggests, mail now may take four or five days to reach its destination. When the cost was three cents, overnight delivery was assured. Why this inefficiency?
Ever since the government permitted unionization of public employees, the post office has gone downhill. Reason: primarily the leadership and the fact that members of the union cannot be fired.
Result: Each leader, like our legislators, has only one objective, personal aggrandizement, a desire to remain in power; each employee, knowing that he cannot be fired, is able to shrink his work, when he is so inclined.
While on the subject: Unionization is the main culprit for destroying our public school educational system. I am sure that there are many hard-working, non-surly union members in both the post office and the education systems, but one bad apple can destroy a barrel.
Caleb R. Kelly, Jr.
I read in your paper July 18 that the food stamps program paid out over $1.8 billion to persons who were ineligible and that approximately $560 million of aid was wrongly denied to persons who should have received aid.
This type of governmental administration is exactly why a single-payer health care system or any health care proposal like President Clinton's should not be enacted.
Food stamps is a program that aids only the poor. How much fraud will the government allow and how many mistakes will the government make if the government administers a program that all 250 million plus Americans are enrolled in? How many tax dollars will be wasted and how many persons will be wrongly denied care?
The Department of Agriculture administers food stamps, and the head of the department sits in President Clinton's cabinet. Furthermore, it is the president's first and foremost responsibility to administer the laws and programs, such as food stamps, that are passed by Congress.
Thus it is President Clinton's responsibility to take corrective actions to prevent such fraud and mistakes. President Clinton should have been aware of the $1.8 billion wasted last year and taken steps to reduce the waste this year.
He did nothing. At the very least, he owes the American taxpayers an apology for failing to do his job.
In light of such a costly failure, in such a comparatively small governmental program, can we really afford to allow President Clinton and any of his successors the responsibility of providing something to all of America as important as health care? From a look at the evidence the answer appears to me to be an emphatic no.
Maximillian F. Van Orden
Sounds of Silence
As I left the Meyerhoff Hall recently, savoring the memory of an excellent all-Mozart program performed by the Baltimore Symphony with Pamela Frank, violinist, and Barry Douglas, my ears were assailed by the blaring, relentless beat of an electronically "enhanced" band in the lobby, playing "music to dance by" as part of the offerings of the evening at symphony.
I realize that the capricious weather of the Baltimore summer prohibited setting up outside the hall, but I would have appreciated the time to reflect and enjoy the music I had just heard.
In these days of elevator music and constant noise, it would have been refreshing to emerge to musical silence from an uplifting evening of the greatest music ever written.
Beth Green Pierce
I am a resident of Mount Vernon in Baltimore; I am pastor of the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church on Mount Vernon Square.
I am in absolute amazement that anyone would consider moving the Flower Mart from this location to a plaza, maybe even a building, for the sake of "profit."
The Flower Mart, as I understand it, is far more than a money-making program. It is about Baltimore being able to show off its uniqueness, its cultural wonder and its most beautiful square. All of this done by a group of dedicated and interested ladies for the good of youth.
We are constantly hearing from the present administration of the city about "selling" Baltimore, attracting visitors, seeking to have people come downtown, maybe even living here.
Yet, some of the very things that help to make Baltimore "sellable" are being taken away. Will Artscape be the next to move to some building?
Over the past several years I have been amazed that the ethnic neighborhood festivals have been moved from the very centers of their existence to some building for the sake of, I guess, making a profit.
Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church has been, at least for the last 11 years, very involved in the Flower Mart. Both buildings are used -- sometimes to the very limit -- and our own church members come from outlying areas to help provide coffee and goodies to the workers setting up early in the morning.
We are tired and weary by the end of the day but have a keen sense of having been immersed and involved in the life of our neighborhood and city. Yes, we make a little money, but the goodwill and spirit of the event far outweighs any profit.
For the sake of the Woman's Civic League, the Mount Vernon Place neighborhood and Baltimore itself, please keep the Flower Mart where it belongs -- in Mount Vernon around the Washington Monument.
Edwin A. Ankeny
I would like to add my support to the plea for the Flower Mart.
I can remember the thrill of attending the Flower Mart with my mother when I was a little girl.
When I got married and moved to Annapolis, I came back every year, met my brothers, Sylvan and Charlie, walked up Charles Street to the Flower Mart.
Tradition! Baltimore abounds with tradition. Let's hold on to this one!
Carolyn F. Glickman
Restore Funding for Integral Fast Reactor
The Sun's position on the integral fast reactor ("Plutonium and the Pork Barrel," July 11) is based largely on the Carter-era policy that the United States should not proceed with any breeder reactor project, thereby setting an example for the rest of the world.
But is it realistic to presume that other countries will follow our lead and not develop nuclear power systems that burn plutonium? They haven't in the past, and they're not likely to do so in the future.
Already many industrialized countries are planning to expand their energy resources by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to obtain and use the plutonium contained therein.
Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and Switzerland are among countries that already use a form of mixed uranium-plutonium oxide fuel or are considering its use. Many more will follow as conventional energy sources become scarce and more expensive.
The problem of proliferation of nuclear weapons capability is serious, and the United States treats it as such. But it cannot be solved bysuggesting the United States can and should be the energy policeman of the world, forswearing the nuclear option and pressuring others to follow our path.
Few nations, including the United States, can afford to ignore the immense energy resource plutonium represents -- thousands years' worth. Burning plutonium in an advanced liquid-metal nuclear plant to generate electricity produces no greenhouse gases and also eliminates plutonium itself as a source of nuclear waste.
It is ironic that The Sun condemns the integral fast reactor (IFR) in the name of non-proliferation. This particular model uses metal fuel instead of oxide fuel, in which plutonium is not present in its pure, weapons-grade form.
Also, the IFR is dramatically different from conventional nuclear power plants. The new reactors are so safe that in the worst conceivable accident, they will shut themselves down with little or no intervention.
And the reactors recycle their own fuel, while reducing the volume of nuclear waste and particularly its long-lived radioactivity.
Yet an IFR only months from completing a demonstration of its full feasibility is being abandoned by fearful politicians after a decade of research. Acting at the request of the Clinton administration, which considers anything "nuclear" synonymous with unacceptable risk, the House recently voted to eliminate funding for liquid metal reactor research and development. A House-Senate conference committee must now decide what course to take.
Since waste reduction alone offers the potential for billions of dollars in savings, the proposed spending on the IFR is a small price to pay for determining whether its large gains are achievable.
On pragmatic grounds, and because the IFR can consume plutonium and render it harmless, the only wise decision is for Congress to restore funding and mandate that the reactor demonstration be completed.
William H. Miller
East Columbia, Mo.
The writer is professor and chair of nuclear engineering, the University of Missouri-Columbia.