Barney vs. MonaAnyone who feels that the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Barney vs. Mona

Anyone who feels that the media is "too liberal" should be encouraged by the writing of Mona Charen. Ms. Charen shows her dislike of any idea that does not fit neatly into the right wing's ideology in her column, "On balance, a bad idea" (Other Voices, Feb. 9).

She shows her obvious bias by referring to Barney and Mr. Rogers as "commissars." The definition of a commissar in the American Heritage Dictionary is as follows: "An official of the Communist Party in charge of political indoctrination and the enforcement of party loyalty."

Barney a Communist? I've heard him called a lot of things (mostly good) but never a Communist. Brings back memories of a Senator McCarthy from Wisconsin, doesn't it?

Although the majority of polls show that most people are in favor of recycling and do make an effort to recycle, she insists that trash is not a problem.

She cites a statistic that says, on average, there are 16.5 years of dump capacity remaining in the United States. Even if this number is true, that day is not that far off. Shouldn't we be trying to reduce the amount of trash that goes into landfills? What is wrong with trying to reduce garbage through recycling?

I think the sole purpose of her column (and most of her columns) is to bash liberals.

She tries to get in a final blow against the liberals by referring to the "righteous propagandists in charge of children's television." This is directed at public television, which is another thing she and the new Republican majority want to do away with.

If I have a choice between listening to Barney or someone as obviously prejudiced as Ms. Charen, Barney winds hands down.

Delmar W. Sutton

Perry Hall

Balanced budget

Regarding the wisdom of Congress passing a balanced budget amendment, the fact is that for the last 25 years the politicians in Congress have not balanced the budget.

If we had had a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution in 1970, we would not now have a burdensome debt projected to be in excess of $5.5 trillion by 1997.

There can be no question of the need to pass the amendment now.

John J. Dinan

Baltimore

Auto insurance

Gov. Parris Glendening has suggested that Baltimore City auto insurance rates should be the same as rates in the counties, not higher as they now are.

Would we have lower rates if we adopted "no fault" insurance?

Pennsylvania, our neighbor, has such an auto insurance program. How much better or worse are its auto insurance rates than those in Maryland?

ichael L. Ruby

Baltimore

The 'promised land' is here in Baltimore

This city is in full swing now -- empowerment zones and a Trade Center that beckons us to visit. But we know these are false prophets.

Too many writers are sitting increasingly further away from our city and pointing fingers at the poor stupid slobs who remain.

There are not enough doers or leaders. The city is becoming a scary, Adrenalin-pumping play place. It's too dangerous, taxes are too high, insurance costs too much, there are too many poor people. Why bother sticking around?

We're losing on two fronts: economic and environmental. People stampede over each other to reach the promised land of suburban bliss. "The poor and/or the blacks are coming!" is heard down each busted block.

But the joke's on the runners. Black people and poor people know exactly what's happening, and so they follow closely in the wake of recently devalued, bargain-priced neighborhoods toward that same promised land.

It's time environmentalists, social agencies, affordable-housing folks and the government put a stranglehold on exploding suburbia.

Put a moratorium on new home construction until the majority of the 7,000 vacant and substandard homes in the city are reoccupied.

We must stop measuring economic success with new home building. Put the effort and success into recycling homes as a first priority. Let's stop throwing houses away.

Lower the tax and insurance rates for the new breed of urban pioneers through environmental and farmland destruction surcharges. Make the renaissance sustainable this time with economic incentives, improved schools, a place to raise a family.

Let's get the pressure off the countryside.

Otherwise we will have one continuous sprawling suburb with gates keeping each other out.

Greg Cantori

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Light Street Housing Corp., a non-profit affordable housing provider in South Baltimore.

Issue isn't 'deadbeat dads,' it's father's rights

The Krosch v. Miller child support saga that has appeared on your Other Voices page, with all its allegations and counter allegations, has raised the battle-cry of "deadbeat dad" among mothers who are tired of fathers who refuse to pay child support ("A deadbeat dad prepares for jail," Feb. 6).

But the differences between Mr. Miller and Ms. Krosch belong in the courtroom, not in this forum.

The attitude of Mr. Miller toward his support obligation is a slap in the face of all fathers who fight each and every day to be part of their childrens' lives.

Ms. Krosch's actions in interfering with the relationship between the children and their father is an insult to every mother who tries to instill in their child a sense of love and respect.

In the exchange several issues were raised. But the most important point seems to have been lost in the rhetoric: Child support is for the children. It is not an issue of mother versus father, or of the custodial parent benefiting while the other parent becomes an outcast.

It is time parents realize that children need child support. It is time for the courts and the media to address the issues of the best interests of children. Name calling, denigration, humiliation

and vindictiveness do not benefit any one.

While there are deadbeat fathers who shirk their responsibilities, more than 70 percent of noncustodial fathers pay child support. These fathers are committed to their children.

It may be true that some noncustodial fathers have abandoned their children, but their numbers are small compared to the number of fathers who attempt to be part of their children's lives.

Although court orders for support and visitation are -- on paper -- equal in weight, in practice they are enforced quite differently.

Noncustodial parents cannot avoid child support obligations. The tools provided by the federal and state governments include payroll withholdings and interception of income tax returns.

Child support is enforced on all levels by the courts, regardless of interference with or refusal by a custodial parent to comply with visitation orders. In other words, even when parents are prevented from seeing their children by the custodial parent, they still are obliged to pay child support.

Federal courts have held that noncustodial parents' visitation rights are constitutionally protected. The parent-child relationship is a "liberty interest" protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.

By not enforcing visitation orders, the courts become catalysts in the development of juvenile crime. As one court observed in acknowledging the psychological consequences of non-compliance: "It could well have been thought that the other's actions with reference to [violating] previous orders of the court would indicate that the children under her care might grow into adulthood believing that there was nothing wrong with flouting the law, and that it was permissible to disobey necessary and proper orders of the court."

A child needs the love and warmth of both parents. Every child learns from the adults around them and therefore should not be deprived of either parent unless one or the other is unfit.

Fathers United for Equal Rights of Maryland, Ltd. defines child support broadly as the obligation and right to support children morally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially.

The callous treatment of noncustodial fathers in the courts adds fuel to the forces of divisiveness and strengthens those who wish to destroy the greatest national asset we have -- the American family.

Rachmiel Tobesman

Randallstown

The writer is state president of Fathers United for Equal Rights of Maryland, Ltd.

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