White Males Have Reason To Feel Angry
Clarence Page's supposedly denigrating list of white males' ". . values and . . .icons . . ." in his column (Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 10) entitled "Why White Male Voters Went The Other Way" is a perfect illustration of why the 1994 elections were a disaster for liberals and Democrats.
In case he still doesn't get it, white males are tired of being dumped on, fleeced, blamed, ridiculed and scorned "just," as the song goes, "for being what we are."
So what if we read Tom Clancy. Is that a sin? So what if we like stock-car racing. Where's the harm? So what if we listen to and watch Rush Limbaugh. I thought that was our privilege in a free society.
So what if we go to Steven Seagal movies, monster-truck rallies and listen to Elvis or heavy metal. This country is supposed to be about nurturing diversity.
What we white males voted about was the liberals being liberal with our blood and money -- the idea that our lives and earnings were somehow the property of government and that we were obliged to approve of and support government activities, many of which were of unproved effectiveness or, worse, were actually counter to and destructive of the most fundamental of our values -- the very values that produce the stability that enables the liberals' experimentation and the wealth that they so self-righteously redistribute.
We, white Limbaugh-loving males, are not mean-spirited. We have always supported government and private programs to help those who need help.
What we object to is the crazy broadening of the definition of "those who need help" so that, for instance, drug-addicts and drunks are classed as "disabled" and so siphon off huge amounts of assistance that was originally intended for the physically handicapped.
We are skeptical and even mildly distrustful of a government that actually believes that disarming its law-abiding citizens will somehow also disarm criminals.
We do understand the National Rifle Association's concern, and we are glad that it is vigorous and well organized and financed to represent our distrust and skepticism.
We object to the liberals' idea that our children are some kind of public resource to be used by government to redress social inequalities, for instance school busing to achieve someone's idea of an "optimal" racial or ethnic mix.
These are the kinds of things that produced the 1994 election "revolution."
The "culture" and "values and icons" of white males may amuse and divert such as Mr. Page, but it is snobs like him who need to "wake up and smell the coffee."
Why is it so scary for him that white males will no longer consort to be ignored, marginalized, scorned, demonized and exploited? other group does; why should we?
Clarence Page may be overestimating the actual turnout of "angry while males" on Nov. 8.
Only 39 percent of the total electorate bothered to vote, and 53 percent of these voted Republican.
That's only 20.7 percent of the total electorate -- or about one in five. If 53 percent of GOP voters were white males, that would be a shade over 11 percent of all potential voters -- or just a little over one out of ten eligible voters.
Mr. Page suggests Clinton and other Democrats will have to concentrate on winning over some of those 11 percent, the angry whining white males, but the facts suggest a more appropriate target than this agitated minority would be the 61 percent who avoided the polls on Nov. 8.
Two news stories in that same issue suggest a strategy for the president and other shellshocked Democrats.
One was a report that most college students regard themselves as liberals, albeit with a concern over "coddling" criminals rather than "hard boiling" them, and the other was a report how a supposedly "tough on crime" three-strikes-and-you're-out law has swamped the courts and prisons with minor offenders and as a result authorities don't even bother to prosecute a lot of minor offenders.
Do you think college students and even general citizens could get the message that posturing on crime won't cut it, and that politicians who voted for these "tough" measures knew perfectly well they would not, in fact, reduce crime?
I would like to see some analysis of that apathetic 61 percent who didn't bother to vote because they hold the keys to the future.
Warren W. Morse
! Chincoteague, Va.
County Government Failed Sparks School
It is notable that the Baltimore County government was the only entity not to receive applause in the meeting of Sparks Elementary School when kudos were offered to those who are helping Sparks most in this crisis.
The physical plant at Sparks had been neglected for years by the county, especially in its recent zeal to make the new Jacksonville Elementary School a showplace.
Sparks parents know that the electrical system wasn't adequate to allow use of the computer lab installed in September, and the county had yet to commit to a date to have it brought up to standard.
And while the cause of the fire is, as yet, undetermined, it would be a surprise if that outdated electrical system is not to blame.
Moreover, the school had no smoke detectors or fire alarm system since it was only required to meet the codes in force when it was built in 1909.
I won't bother questioning the wisdom of the law, but I will question the prudence of managing a $2.5 million building containing $1.5 million worth of materials without such safeguards.
What would the cost have been to install a fire alarm system? One less car for a county employee? One less cellular phone? The lack of sound judgment is staggering.
So while the speed with which the school is being reconvened is truly breathtaking -- children are back in classes at Cockeysville Middle School -- it is difficult not to feel bitter about accepting what would seem to be an unnecessary loss.
The Sparks community, comprising not just the school but recreation council activities, scouting and more, has been deprived of its heart. Not by an act of God, but by a failure of government.
Now we are told that, even on a fast track, we won't open a new school for three years. Only a government bureaucrat would call that a "fast track." Private industry would be back in business in less than half the time.
At a time when a Baltimore citizen is offering $200 million for a professional sports team, when our newly-elected Republican Congress wants to restore funding for Star Wars technology at some equally galactic sum, when an outgoing Baltimore County Executive can repave half the roads in the county in an unsuccessful attempt to get reelected, I offer this challenge to Baltimore County:
Give us back the school that you fumbled away through your neglect and mismanagement by the fall of 1996.
That's what Sparks parents would call a fast track. And, incidentally, you owe it to us.
Robert T. Wilke
Partisan Guerrilla Warfare Is Not Welfare Reform
The past few weeks have witnessed several proposals to reform the welfare system.
Some of these proposals have merit and should be considered; some would do more harm than good; some are positively disingenuous, and some are stalking horses for ideologically driven solutions that cannot yet (apparently) be openly discussed.
Few address the problems of poverty or the needs of poor Americans.
Perhaps the most insidious of all of the welfare reform proposals is the one to "devolve" welfare to the states.
The history of the federal government devolving programmatic responsibility to the states will not provide much comfort to state governors and taxpayers. Rarely are devolved programs fully or even adequately funded for long, and their costs increasingly must be picked up by the states.
Devolution should also be of concern to welfare recipients and advocates because it is a clear effort by the conservative right to eliminate welfare through state rather than federal action.
Establishing "minimum" federal standards and ending the entitlement status of Aid to Families with Dependent Children (two of the pillars of devolution of welfare) would inevitably mean that some states would, for all practical purposes, eliminate AFDC for some (if not all) classes of citizens through one mechanism or another.
What is more, as soon as state budgets become strained (a nearly constant condition today), welfare will be an easy target. This, despite the fact that AFDC constitutes such a small portion of state and federal spending.
Much of the talk about devolving welfare is occurring within the well-worn (if not badly frayed) concept of the states being the "laboratories of democracy."
This concept means that with different conditions, constituencies and needs, the states should be allowed to experiment with different "solutions" to problems like welfare. It sounds good at first hearing and is difficult to oppose in principle.
But some issues demand a national rather than a state-by-state approach in order to protect such important values as fairness and equity.
We do not, for example, allow each state to offer a different subset of civil rights to its citizens. Civil rights are, first and foremost, established in and protected by the U.S. Constitution.
For different if not equally good reasons, we do not allow the states to offer different Medicare, Social Security and other "national" social programs.
Even if it could be agreed that the states should be able to do what they want with welfare (within some minimum standards), there is an aspect of the laboratories of democracy argument that strongly suggests that they will not address either the problem of poverty or the real needs of the poor.
In fact, what the states are likely to do is to respond to short-term political forces, especially the electoral needs and ideological considerations of state politicians.
I can say this because during the past two years I have been deeply involved with the development of a forthcoming book, "The Politics of Welfare Reform."
The book includes case studies of recent welfare reform efforts of six leading welfare reform states: California, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin.
One of the strongest conclusions we reached from these studies is that in none of these states were welfare reform efforts preceded or accompanied by serious, objective analyses of the causes of poverty, the needs of the poor or alternative methods of addressing poverty or the needs of the poor. Nor were other "rational" methods of perspective policy analysis employed.
Politics (sometimes in the worst sense of the word) drove welfare reforms in these states.
In some, partisan battles between governors and legislatures defined welfare reform efforts; in others, welfare reform was brought to the agenda strictly by financial considerations, e.g., budget shortages in the states; conservative political ideology played a role in many of the reform efforts; and, in some states, notably Wisconsin and Michigan, the state's top politicians, their governors, made names for themselves riding the welfare reform horse.
Based on our examination of how six leading states undertook welfare reform, I am not at all optimistic that the proposed devolution of AFDC to the states would address either the problems of poverty in this nation or the legitimate needs of the poor.
I am convinced, however, that it would meet the short-term political needs, often ideologically driven and cynical ones, of politicians in Congress who could then say that they finally "did something" to solve the "welfare mess."
The irony, of course, is that while they may have garnered more votes for themselves at the next election, they will have solved nothing.
Poverty will be just as bad, if not worse, than before devolution, and the poor will face even bleaker prospects.
Meaningful welfare reform is unlikely to be produced by what one of our authors called "partisan guerrilla warfare." That is what we saw in the states and that is what is occurring in Washington today.
Real welfare reform will follow from a more thoughtful and considerate approach and will be based on an understanding of the causes and solutions to poverty and the needs of the poor.
And it will take time to work, if by work we mean reduce poverty and move people from welfare to the mainstream of American life.
Donald F. Norris
The writer is director, Maryland Institute for Policy Analysis and Research at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
I have been observing with interest the controversies over the Blue Cross-Blue Shield situation. I work for a medical group. One of my responsibilities is to obtain insurance pre-surgical approvals.
In the last two to three months, it has taken me on average 40 minutes for a representative to answer the phone.
I sit and wait, unable to do any work, while I listen to a recording telling me that all the representatives are busy.
In all fairness, I might comment that there is some waiting when making calls to other insurance companies, but never as long as with Blue Cross-Blue Shield.
I know the company has had major reductions in staff, and I do not blame those trying to man the phones. They are very professional under an adverse situation.
The waiting has increased my employer's operating costs. While Blue Cross-Blue Shield is making an effort to become more efficient, it is making us work inefficiently.
I favor being productive at all levels within all organizations.
As a Blue Cross-Blue Shield policy-holder I am pleased that my company is making an effort to restrain health care costs. However, cutting costs by reducing service is not the way to go.
Roger A. Proehl
Less Is Best
There are several silver linings in the fact that more people have lately been moving from Maryland to other states than vice versa (news story, Dec. 29). One silver lining is that fewer people could mean fewer cars and less driving, and therefore less of the auto emissions that form much of our ground-level ozone.
(Up to four out of five Marylanders breathe unhealthful levels of it every summer, causing wheezing and shortness of breath in sensitive people if they work or play outside, as you reported Jan. 1.)
If there were a lot fewer of us, our cars would not have to be subjected to the new stricter emissions test that people have been complaining about in your letters column.
Another silver lining is that fewer people could mean less of the sewage, polluted runoff from development and other nutrient inputs with which we are killing the Chesapeake Bay.
It's usually said the inter-state agreement to restore the bay's productivity requires reducing these nutrient inputs by 40 percent, but as the December Bay Journal spells out, it really requires getting them down to 60 percent of their 1985 levels (far from accomplished) and then somehow holding them there in the face of rising population.
And that's the really troubling part of your report on Maryland's population: the "net out-migration" puts only a tiny dent in our continuing growth, because there are so many more births than deaths and because of foreign immigration.
And soon, when the state's recovery from the recession catches up with the rest of the country, Maryland will also resume its usual net increase by migration.
In light of that, and what it implies for the fate of the bay, the air we breathe, our loss of woods and open space, increasing traffic congestion, etc., etc., my "silver linings" don't look so bright after all.
What Maryland needs is a stable population that ensures both a healthy economy and a healthy environment.
The writer is Population Committee chair, Sierra Club of Maryland.
I happened to read David Zurawik's Jan. 9 review, "Moyers takes a wordy look at violence." I didn't think much of it, and thought maybe this critic was correct because some of Bill Moyers' shows have been wordy and intellectual, such as his series on Joseph Campbell.
Since one of my professional areas of interest as a psychologist is violence, and teen-age violence in particular, I decided to watch the show in any case -- basically disregarding Mr. Zurawik's advice that "it is mainly talk -- as in blah, blah, blah . . ."
As I took the time to watch the show, I became more and more angry that Mr. Zurawik had almost turned me off one of the best shows on violence ever done on television.
Not only was it not "just talk," but it covered a wide range of topics, had first-hand accounts by victims and relatives,
presented viable alternatives to the treatment of violent youths, gave sound advice as to what we as individuals could do about violence in our communities and was also entertaining and dynamic . . .
My main complaint against the column is that it did a disservice to the Baltimore community by superficially and inaccurately evaluating the show in a negative light, possibly preventing a great number of people from viewing its important messages.
Mr. Zurawik has his right to offer an opinion, but I seriously doubt his judgment in this case and would caution The Sun to be more aware of the consequences of such a column upon the community.
James E. Olsson
On Jan. 12, The Sun addressed the movement of Jewish congregations to the suburbs.
Unfortunately, you omitted the fact that Temple Emanuel, a reform congregation that has been serving the Jewish community since 1955, located on Milford Mill Road since 1958, is currently building its new synagogue on Berrymans Lane in Reisterstown.
The building currently being erected will include a 9,300-square-foot religious school wing, in addition to the sanctuary that will hold 750 people and a social hall that will seat 280 people for dinner.
When Temple Emanuel moved to the Liberty Road corridor in 1955, it was the first new reform congregation in the area in over 100 years.
It was formed at that time to serve the needs of the growing Jewish population that was moving to the suburbs. The move to Reisterstown will again allow this congregation to serve the needs of a growing Jewish population, now in the Reisterstown/Owings Mills area.
Temple Emanuel plans to be open for High Holy Day services in September of 1995.
8, The writer is president, Temple Emanuel.
I would like to respond to the Republican statement that women be forced to prove paternity before they are eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
Historically, men have not assumed the responsibilities associated with sex.
They refuse to participate in birth control, and if a woman becomes pregnant, they refuse to assist in the financial obligations of raising the child they fathered.
So, women in the U.S. are forced to bear the sole financial and physical strain of bearing a child and are also responsible for its care for at least 18 years.
The current system of giving Aid to Families with Dependent Children to women who are required to assume sole responsibility for the care of children sired by an absent male has not been the best solution (especially considering that the payment for one child and a mother in Maryland is less than $310 per month), but it has provided medical care and nutritional assistance to women and their children.
Now the GOP wants to put restrictions on even this paltry sum by requiring that women prove the paternity of their children.
The legal process of proving paternity is a burdensome and expensive one. Men are not required to account for every sperm that leaves their bodies, and they are not accountable for every sex act they engage in.
They are not even required to support the children they foster. Women, however, are responsible for all these and are stigmatized and abused in society if they are impregnated by a male they are not married to.
Unfortunately, the GOP would like to make women pay even more.
They would like to limit the information a woman gets about her own biological processes. They would like to limit the access a woman has to birth control. (Way to solve that population problem, Newt Gingrich.)
If by chance, a woman is impregnated by a male, the GOP would like to forbid her to terminate the pregnancy, and if she continues the pregnancy, she cannot receive any financial assistance from the government in raising the child.
And, if, God forbid, the child isn't perfect -- then the woman is also a bad mother.
Since women are all so incapable of understanding information and controlling our own bodies, I have a suggestion.
Make men solely responsible for the financial, emotional and educational well-being of their children. Maybe we can look forward to a new GOP version of AFCD -- Aid to Fathers with Defective Condoms.
Maybe it is because I am a sort of bean counter, but there definitely are more "males" in KAL's latest on the loss of middle ground in the abortion issue (Jan. 11). Especially on the "choice" side.
Question: Was he aware of this? If so, why so many men? If not, I know a good support group to help him with his gender awareness issue.
H. Randall Miller