GOP AgendaThe Republicans in Congress, led by...


GOP Agenda

The Republicans in Congress, led by scowling Sen. Bob Dole and smirking Rep. Newt Gingrich, are not the party of the loyal opposition, but the party of negativism and obstruction.

The GOP has no programs or policies other than to protect the vested interests of the health insurance industry and the gun lobby.

Above all else, its primary goal is nothing less than to bring down the Clinton presidency.

Alfred S. Sharlip


Health Reform

As a small businessman and a health care provider, I am offended by Rep. Ben Cardin being pictured with "business leaders" in your article about universal health care.

He has one of the poorest voting records concerning business of any elected official in Maryland.

These big companies want reform to enable them to trim their health care plans and allow them to no longer cover working spouses. Now who is being selfish?

As an employer on Main Street U.S.A., I see many businesses struggling to keep their doors open.

If they are required to provide health care, two things will happen. People will be laid off, especially part-time employees, and prices will increase. In the end, the consumer will pay.

As a health care provider, I am the first one to agree the system needs reform. Reform doesn't mean overhauling.

Change the things in the system that don't work:

1. Guarantee insurance for everyone, regardless of medical history.

2. Conformity of paperwork.

3. Reform of malpractice laws.

4. Portability and renewability of insurance.

After living with this for several years, we can then refine the system again. Let physicians provide health care and the insurance industry compete for contracts.

Small business cannot continue to match Social Security payments, pay unemployment insurance, workers compensation and now health care. At some time, employees have to start being responsible for themselves.

I realize this is a new concept in America, but who said business is responsible for health care? An incentive will have to be implemented to compel employees to buy health insurance.

It's fascinating that Mr. Cardin and big business felt small business was being "selfish."

Steven L. Pinson


Watershed Police

It was with great interest that I read the article in The Sun July 31 ("We have got to protect the water" by Howard Libit) about Baltimore City's Watershed Police Force.

These hard-working, caring employees of my Department of Public Works have the difficult and important job of protecting the metropolitan water supply. I was very pleased to see your article clearly portray that dedication to your readers.

I would like to correct a statement in the article that budget cuts were responsible for the reduced size of our Watershed Police Force.

In fact, our efforts to expand our police force have been slowed by state requirements that all police officers meet the Maryland Training Commission regulations requiring six months satisfactory attendance at the Special Police Academy and successful completion of yearly in-service training.

To date, only one new officer we have recruited has satisfied these requirements.

Baltimore will continue its efforts to expand the Watershed Police Force.

We will also continue to work with and educate the public enjoying these beautiful areas about the need to protect the watersheds lands. Your article has helped in that effort.

George G. Balog


I= The writer is director of the Department of Public Works.

Who Moved MTO?

MTO, which stands for the federal program Move To Opportunity, was passed by the United States Congress. Although both Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Sen. Paul Sarbanes are continually hit for having voted for it, legislative records clearly indicate and show that the entire Maryland congressional delegation did.

Contrary to many who claim that this program originated from the liberals, it must be said that MTO was proposed by then-Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp in 1992. It was President Bush who sent the legislation to the Congress.

These are the real facts. In 1993, Baltimore City met with HUD to discuss bringing MTO to Baltimore. In 1994, funding for MTO was approved, $12.5 million earmarked for Baltimore.

I repeat, the entire Maryland congressional delegation voted for this program in 1992, even though some now running for re-election or other high office have amnesia when asked about it.

I must sympathize with many citizens and residents of areas that are opposed to the program being used in relationship to them. I cannot agree realistically with the concept that because a person opposes MTO he is a racist.

Every community-minded citizen should take the time to examine new programs -- especially if they will effect their community.

MTO was not presented to citizens properly. Far too many

rumors, both true and false, were allowed to spread without being challenged.

As a result, MTO is being challenged by citizens, community organizations and even those that voted for this program in Congress.

John A. Micklos


Leap Frog

"An interest rate increase eventually shows through in higher costs for everything from credit cards to home mortgages" -- Reuters dispatch in The Sun Aug. 17, the day the Federal Reserve System raised the rates for the fifth time beginning in February.

In February, you published my letter which called the first increase the start of "leap-frog" economics. I still maintain that raising interest rates in a period of low inflation will increase the cost of living. The key word in the Reuters dispatch is "eventually."

Your able business writer, John Woodruff, also on Aug. 17, reported that "all prime-indexed consumer rates will be adjusted to the new levels by the end of October, bank economists said."

The cost-of-living index will rise significantly by the end of February. If it does not, I will retire my frog. By the same token, Alan Greenspan should retire as Fed chairman if it does.

Of course, he will then claim he was right all along. Inflation did

increase, he will say: "I knew it was coming."

Maurice F. Mackey Jr.


RNs Aren't Replaced That Easily

The way hospitals are restructuring -- replacing registered nurses with unlicensed assisting personnel -- reminds me of a familiar optical illusion.

The game involves looking at an ink drawing. At first glance, you see the profile of an old woman. The challenge is to see the image of a young woman, as well.

Profitability seems to be the only thing hospitals focus on when they look at the health care delivery picture. By reducing nursing care to its lowest common denominator, they completely miss the image of quality.

For patients, the implications are alarming. Contrary to the placations of Catherine Crowley (Maryland Hospital Association), the tasks being delegated at some facilities are far from inconsequential: changing sterile dressings; inserting urinary catheters; administering medications and monitoring heart rhythms.

Further, take a closer look at what it means to delegate activities of daily living that nurses don't really need to do.

These activities include bathing, eating and dressing. A person who can't do these things for himself is usually very ill, with complex and incapacitating problems.

When bathing such a patient, nurses look for signs of dehydration, bedsores, hot spots on the legs and adverse reactions to therapies. They also talk with the patient -- conscious or not -- orienting, educating and calming fears.

Ostensibly, the public can look to Registered Nurse licensure laws for protection. Yet it's the institution -- not the nurse -- dictating both the volume of patients and the resources available for their care.

Not long ago, it was common for RNs to comprise 90 percent of the work force involved in direct patient care. Today that skill mix is often down to 65 percent and continues to drop.

Is it because RNs have become too expensive? Hardly. Nursing comprises only 23 percent of a hospital's labor costs.

Are RN cutbacks a financial necessity due to drops in census? Quite the contrary.

Hospital contracts with HMOs and insurance companies are increasingly based on the hospital receiving a flat fee per member, regardless of the medical services required. Under this fixed disbursement system, empty beds equal higher profits.

When hospitalization is required, it's in the facility's best interest to discharge the patient as soon as possible.

Research has repeatedly shown that higher RN staffing levels result in lower mortality rates, shorter lengths of stay, lower costs and fewer complications. And, the higher the nurses' qualifications, the better the quality of care.

Hospitals are literally banking on the fact that our love affair with medical technology will soften the cuts in nursing staff.

Few people are aware of the essential nursing care issues which had to be solved in order to make organ transplants, heart surgeries and even hip-and knee-replacements viable therapies.

It comes down to an issue of consumer choice, an option routinely denied our hospitalized and our institutionalized. Patients assume it's a registered nurse they see at their bedside. In reality, it may only be the illusion of nursing care.

Robin Walter, R.N.

Bel Air

Banks on Denial of Black Racism

I read Lewis Lorton's and Adrian W. Osnowitz's acerbic and unctuous Aug. 20 reaction to my Aug. 13 letter in which I called attention to Hugh P. Price's leadership of the National Urban League and the pervasive and endemic nature of white racism in the American body politic.

I stand four-square upon the historical and factual perspective I provided in terms of white racism as a structural and societal reality and the absence of black racism.

Messrs. Lorton and Osnowitz make a vain, sophomoric and specious effort to depict black racism through a recounting of chimerical, delusory and hypothetical anecdotes and non-sequiturs (viz., scenario of African-American and Puerto Rican plumbers in New York with "unreasonable hatred" for each other; conflict in Rwanda among Hutus and Tutsis; prejudicial utterances of Minister Louis Farrakhan and Khalid Mohammad; the administrative actions of former Comptroller Jacqueline McLean and my alleged defense of her, etc.).

The sum total of Messrs. Lorton's and Osnowitz's anecdotal hypothezation and misinformation does not constitute the institutional or operational presence of black racism.

It is significant in terms of fundamental truth and a clear historical record that the highly respected National Commission on Civil Disorders, comprised of acclaimed scholars and lay persons, in its widely heralded Kerner report, indicated that the paramount reason for the convulsive and destructive urban upheavals in 1965, 1967 and 1968 was "white racism." This finding was corroborated by the National Urban Coalition in its 1969 report, "One Year Later."

A solid, expansive and factual description of white racism is available in Winthrop Jordan's "White Over Black," Gordon Allport's "The Nature of Prejudice," Barry Schwartz's "White Racism" and Thomas Gossett's "Race: The History of An Idea in America."

No such historical and factual genre or body of information is available to depict the global and institutional presence and operation of black racism.

All 5.7 billion persons who inhabit "Spaceship Earth" have prejudices, as reflected in a disposition toward types of foods, clothing, short people, tall people, among other personal proclivities. But those do not fall within the structural and institutional dimension of racism.

In the final analysis, Messrs. Lorton and Osnowitz are caught in the historic bane which afflicts too many white Americans -- an iniquitous and troubling state of denial.

The time, I believe, is now at hand for the larger white society to accept the reality of white racism and join hands with other disparate ethnic, racial and religious groups in our nation for the sake of national unity, solidarity and mutual respect and progress.

Samuel L. Banks


Murder, Race and Barricades in and out of Guilford

The murders in Guilford and Oakenshawe in the past year have highlighted the inability of the Baltimore criminal justice system to provide an adequate level of safety to the inhabitants of north Baltimore.

Two murders were street robberies and could have been prevented by better policing. The murder of the Lochs was apparently a domestic crime, but might have been deterred if the perpetrator knew he faced the possibility of execution. The city of Baltimore does not seek execution in capital crimes, as all criminals know.

It is time for the neighborhoods of Guilford, Homeland and Roland Park to consider whether they wish to stay within Baltimore City.

The residents pay enormous taxes, $5,000 to $10,000 a year per house, but cannot use an unsafe public school system and cannot walk their streets at night.

The residents should hold a referendum to petition the State of Maryland to remove them from Baltimore City and to reconstitute them as North Baltimore, an independent city or an incorporated town in Baltimore County.

If this is not done, property value will continue to be depressed and the deterioration already visible along the fringes of the neighborhoods will spread.

It would be better for the business climate in Baltimore and therefore for the poorer residents of the city to have good residential neighborhoods in a separate town 10 minutes from downtown than to have another slum inside the city limits.

Nor is this racist. The residents of north Baltimore feel that their contribution to the finances of the city entitles them to better police protection. But the city has neighborhoods that have dozens of murders a year, and it seems unfair to withdraw police from extremely dangerous neighborhoods to protect the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city.

But if these neighborhoods are not protected, they too will deteriorate. The new town could offer to take a percentage of students in its school system from outside if that is necessary to ensure integration.

Cleveland has severe urban problems, yet its neighborhoods that are like Guilford have managed to cope with integration and change because they are constituted as separate towns, and can provide the level of safety and quality of education that people who are able to pay $300,000 for a house demand.

It may be time for the neighborhoods of north Baltimore to exercise their rights of self-government and to adopt a similar solution.

Leon Podles


Mike Littwin, in his Aug. 19 column, doesn't like barricades and says we had it wrong when we assumed that the Loch murders were committed by young black males.

Did he hear anyone say that the killer of the Lochs was black? He thinks he knows what people think and he feels free to put it in the newspaper.

I for one don't like being lumped in with other peoples' "we." He complains about the cops maybe intentionally misleading us. They got their man. What does he want?

He complains about the cost of incarcerating criminals but is not aware that it is eminently cost effective in money alone, as one criminal on the street costs citizens and government $430,000 a year, while the prison price tag is about $25,000.

The column states that incarceration has made "no appreciable change in the crime rate." Who said so? Violent crime has increased more than 500 percent from the 1960s, and the punishment rate is at an all-time low, with fewer than one in 10 serious crimes resulting in imprisonment.

When government ignores its first responsibility, protecting its citizens from foreign and domestic enemies, the people are left to deal with their own safety problems as best they can.

In this vacuum, less sensible solutions are resorted to, namely, walls, barricades, quotas in prison, gun bans, basketball, college scholarships for prisoners, political correctness indoctrination lectures about the evils of incarceration and myriad "programs" which exacerbate the situation and insult the taxpayer, none of which holds more water than a fish net.

Criminology and sociology are two separate and distinct areas. If criminal justice was properly addressed, social problems would dwindle proportionately in the non-imprisoned population. If moral education was properly addressed, criminal justice would not have so crushing a responsibility.

Does Mike Littwin really think that people shouldn't be afraid? Or that they shouldn't take steps to defend themselves?

Or that they should ignore the cold, hard fact that "most of our hard crimes are being done by blacks," as Robert Nowlin, black community leader, was quoted in The Sun as saying?

"It is true that it is usually black on black, but that is beside the point. It is time they face up to the fact and try to do something about it, it is about right and wrong," Mr. Nowlin said. The Rev. Jesse Jackson would agree with that.

Phony racism, and falsely accusing people of racism, and fear of telling the truth for fear of being called racist has gone much too far for anyone's good.

Mr. Nowlin is right, it is about right and wrong, it's about moral issues which are not separable from crime issues, it's about teaching children the Ten Commandments, and it's about isolating those who don't choose to keep them.

"What do we do for those innocents who live in the poor neighborhoods where crime is an everyday concern?" wonders Mr. Littwin. What indeed! It's not hard to figure out. Remove the people who destroy their safety and peace of mind and break down the mental barricades that reject this obvious conclusion.

Ask Mr. Nowlin; he can say it more eloquently than I can, and with impunity . . .

Elizabeth Ward Nottradt


Following the beating deaths of an elderly Guilford couple, the neighborhood association has asked city officials to erect traffic barricades, segregating that wealthy Baltimore neighborhood from adjacent low-income communities.

You report that city officials have taken heed of Guilford complaints that non-residents are taking "shortcuts" through their neighborhood, spoiling its sense of community and threatening its security.

Ignoring, for the moment, that these so-called "shortcuts" are often the most direct route home, do supporters of this plan also suggest that residents along Greenmount Avenue, Charles and Howard Streets erect barricades to keep non-residents from intruding as they cut through these communities on their way downtown?

I had always been under the impression that in this country publicly built and maintained roads are open to the public -- all of the public.

The murders in Guilford were deplorable and senseless, like those in poorer parts of Baltimore where residents, through no fault of their own, are forced to live in neighborhoods plagued by gangs and drug lords.

We desperately need a solution to poverty, unemployment and the hopelessness and violence they breed. But white South Africans, who lived behind walls of fear, can tell us -- apartheid is not the answer.

Elizabeth Schmidt


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