GATT may pass, but is it in...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

GATT may pass, but is it in our interest?

I was in favor of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but I consider passage of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade not in the best interest of the U.S.

NAFTA is important not so much as a trade agreement as a strategic investment in the long-term economic stability of Mexico and Canada. But economic growth and stability in countries elsewhere, though perhaps desirable, does not have the same strategic value to the U.S.

GATT's proponents claim it will increase the number of high-paying jobs in the U.S. But removal of all tariff protection will actually decrease the number of low-paying jobs as labor-intensive production moves offshore.

Ultimately this will exacerbate the division between rich and poor here, as the poor find less and less opportunity for economic improvement except from government intervention and dependence.

What will we do then? Do we put them all on welfare because we have given their jobs away?

I have confidence that American technology and productivity can compete in the international market and that our products will be in demand regardless of whether GATT passes or not.

However, we will not be able to compete, nor would we want to compete, in labor-intensive product areas. So why give up a major portion of our manufacturing and industrial base to countries from which we have little to gain?

I believe in free trade when it is in our interest. It's not clear what benefits accrue to us from free trade with underdeveloped countries. Bilateral or trilateral agreements, such as NAFTA, should be pursued only when they are good for the U.S.

GATT does not allow us to make country by country determinations or use economic incentives, such as Most Favored Nation status, to influence other countries' policies, including human rights. It eliminates tariffs as a form of leverage in our foreign policy.

GATT is likely to pass. But other than making some bucks for multinational business, I don't see where it's for the long-term good of the U.S.

I read where Ford Motor Corporation wants to rid itself of its "Detroit" image and have none of its international presidents be Americans. Is this where we want to be headed?

Al Leung

Phoenix

Former Del. Leslie Hutchinson got 'help from a friend'

Regarding Larry Carson's story "Hutchinson got help from a friend" (Nov. 26), is this a great country or what?

Imagine, a former member of the House of Delegates who:

* Failed to appear in court seven times;

* Had her license suspended four times;

* Was caught using a 1970 House of Delegates tag issued to her uncle;

* Left a string of unpaid hotel, dry-cleaning and apartment rental bills in Annapolis;

* Tried to start a business last year by improperly using her connections as a legislator.

Yet Ms. Hutchinson was awarded a $40,700-a-year job with the state of Maryland -- the same entity whose laws she blatantly disregarded!

Don't people who fail to appear in court or drive on a suspended license usually get arrested? Was Ms. Hutchinson ever arrested, or even fined?

I wonder how unemployed citizens of Maryland who are as well or better qualified for Ms. Hutchinson's job of community outreach worker at the state Department of Human Resources view these shenanigans?

It appears the state's definition of "reaching out" means having connections without responsibility or accountability.

Saul D. Jacobs

Randallstown

Larry Carson's story, "Gov. Schaefer helps Del. Hutchinson land a $40,700-a-year state job" (Nov. 24), shows a typical side of Governor Schaefer -- if the governor does it, it's OK.

Governor Schaefer said on a WBAL newscast that giving Del. Hutchinson a $40,700-a-year job was not influenced by politics. He said her resume was circulated through state agencies and she was placed in a job that fit.

It would be nice to know how many of the state employees whom Governor Schaefer terminated in 1992 had their resumes circulated throughout the government and were placed in $40,000-a-year jobs that fit.

I guess if any of these state employees stopped making payments on their autos, drove without insurance or proper registration, did not pay state income taxes, failed to appear in court six or seven times, used another person's license plates, had their driver's license suspended four times and did not pay any of their bills, the governor would have found a job for them that fit.

According to former Delegate Hutchinson, she sees no problem in getting a state job through political connections.

Thank God Governor Schaefer's time in office is almost up.

Thomas J. Gramil

Glen Burnie

There is no question that elected officials should be held to the highest standards.

But Ms. Hutchinson paid the price for her errors, both financially and emotionally. Last spring she announced that she would not seek re-election but would work hard instead at her duties as a mother and single parent.

Most of us have made mistakes in our lives and have been given a second chance. Is Leslie Hutchinson an exception?

Harold E. Long

Lutherville

Charisma

Anna Quindlen (Other Voices, Nov. 15) says the country lost two of its most charismatic political figures when Gov. Mario Cuomo and Gov. Ann Richards were rejected by the voters of their respective states of New York and Texas.

Since when is charisma a prerequisite for holding elected public office?

I should think the very first qualification should be concern for the overall well-being of their constituency.

Ms. Quindlen also ascribes demonic traits to the new speaker of the House, which are, to put it mildly, not on a par with Mario Cuomo, when it comes to poesy.

But then, perhaps we shouldn't expect a losing liberal to wax poetic over a victorious conservative.

Blanche K. Coda

Baltimore

Wasteful

I can hardly believe what I have just read ("Mikulski pushes for plum for Villa Julie in budget," Nov. 25).

A federal agency does not want to spend money and provides what seems to be legitimate arguments for not doing so, yet Sen. Barbara Mikulski insists that, at Social Security's expense, Villa Julie should receive a pork dinner with all the fixings.

This is the type of needless, wasteful, pat-on-the-back, thanks-for-helping-me-get-elected spending that my generation (X) is mad as hell about. Stop it!

A person in her position should know better than not the grim situation that the Social Security Administration is already in, and yet she chooses to use political pressure for this plum.

Robert S. Lewis

Catonsville

Barry on Norplant

Recently, Mayor-elect Marion Barry of Washington was quoted as follows: "You may have as many babies as you want . . . But when you start asking the government to take care of them, the government ought to have some control over you . . . For people like that I would be for something like Norplant, mandatory Norplant."

Mr. Barry told reporters that he sees Norplant as a tool of liberation to help stem the increasing number of children born into a life of poverty.

Bouquets and kudos to the mayor-elect of Washington. In Baltimore, Norplant has been available in school clinics since 1992. The result has been positive.

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Mitchell ethics

Your story about former Speaker of the House of Delegates R. Clayton Mitchell Jr. accepting a position as chief lobbyist for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has to be a milestone for 1994 ("Ex-speaker will oversee BGE lobbyists," Nov. 24).

My guess is that such an association is not against the law. However, it raises serious ethical questions.

Even in the absence of law, there is a need for the application of a higher standard of business ethics.

I would like to see the state legislature enact appropriate legislation to discourage this practice in Maryland.

James M. Holway

Ellicott City

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