Minimum WageJack Aellen's letter, "FDR'S Madness" (Feb....

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Minimum Wage

Jack Aellen's letter, "FDR'S Madness" (Feb. 13) states that President Franklin D. Roosevelt's decision to raise the minimum wage to 25 cents per hour was the cause of a recession which occurred after a period (1934-1936) during which the New Deal had succeeded in lowering unemployment and raising the gross national product.

Rather than placing the blame on a new minimum wage, the vast majority of historians and economists place the blame for the beginning of the 1937 recession on a cut in government programs that were designed to stimulate economic growth, as well as a hike in interest rates generated the Federal Reserve HTC Board's increasing the discount rate.

Myron M. Winer

Columbia

Repeat Offenders

I am an intern at a drug and alcohol treatment center in Baltimore County. This center treats mainly first time driving-while-impaired offenders who have been court-ordered into treatment.

Two questions arise in my mind:

Why is our center continuing to see second-, third- and fourth-time DWI offenders? What will it take for judges and public officials to realize that these repeat offenders may need more intensive treatment?

It is my understanding that Baltimore County has a brand-new DWI facility in Owings Mills. Unfortunately, recent articles indicate this facility is not up to full capacity.

Instead, outpatient centers such as where I intern are being overloaded with these repeat offenders.

Changes need to be made to our existing systems so that when court evaluators or drug and alcohol counselors make recommendations to the courts, they are carried out.

These professionals are the ones qualified to determine appropriate treatment, not individuals strictly involved in the criminal justice system.

I would suggest that any and all professionals involved in the criminal justice system take the time and opportunity to actually visit and sit down with professionals involved in the addictions field so they may gain a better understanding of the nature of addiction and how to treat that addiction. Teamwork is essential to curb the number of repeat drunken drivers on our streets.

Kimberly L. Heil

Baltimore

School Bus Bill: Fools Rush In

This is directed to the Feb. 23 editorial concerning S e n. Vernon Boozer's school bus bill.

Rarely have I had the opportunity to read such a poorly thought-out editorial comment in this newspaper.

Senator Boozer's legislative effort on behalf of school bus safety should have been applauded, not condemned. Clearly your information was provided by the Baltimore County people who provide for school bus services.

As to the hazards of the 1,200 "fly-bys," Baltimore County operates slightly more than 600 bus routes daily. Two trips a day comes to 1,200 bus route trips a day. School has been in session for about 100 days. This means that the average school bus experiences one "fly-by" each 100 days.

Driver behavior is not the issue. We control driving behavior with stop signs, traffic lights, speed limits, seat-belt laws and a variety of other methods and devices. The issue here is the hubris of Baltimore County officials who continue to feel that they board and disembark school buses right and the rest of the country does it wrong . . .

Conformity for conformity's sake is not a virtue. The editorial states that neither way has been shown to be better.

In this case, is not the onus on the people who do it different to show that it is better?

Or is The Sun editorial staff suggesting that divergence for divergence sake is better? If Baltimore County was the only county in the United States where people drove on the left instead of the right, would you be as sanguine?

Senator Boozer and Baltimore Del. Ann Marie Doory have introduced legislation to help protect the children of our state as they go back and forth to school.

These efforts attempt to bring two jurisdictions into conformity with the rest of the state and nation.

Having uniform procedures across the state of Maryland will add another level of protection for those who ride the buses back and forth to schools.

Ending the confusion of divergent procedures for bus drivers, car drivers and students as they cross county lines won't hurt and might help.

No safety measure is fool-proof because fools are so ingenious. If the editors of The Sun spent more time in emergency rooms and funeral parlors listening to the parents of children who are injured as a result of this confusion and less time in the bureaucratic offices of the Baltimore County government, perhaps they would have come down on the other side of this issue . . .

Richard L. Gorman

Ellicott City

$100,000 for a Re-Cycled Tired Stereotype

The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped once again is a focus for controversy. (news article, Jan. 30.)

At issue is a $100,000 commission to sighted sculptor Todd Noe for 12 bronze depictions of dwellings ("Streetscape") to be displayed along one wall of the library's reading room. These six- to ten-inch pieces include a doghouse, a mobile home, a thatched hut and a tent.

Philadelphia art reviews described as "toy-like" Noe's virtually identical 1991 sculpture exhibited in Pennsylvania -- there called "Dozen Dwellings."

So, Maryland taxpayers pay a hefty $100,000 for re-cycled art, and a library designated for blind and disabled persons owns a permanent exhibit which reifies the tired stereotype of persons with disabilities as "child-like."

Such infantilization of those adults who are the primary audience for "Streetscape" may be unconsciously embedded in well-intentioned yet revealing remarks by Jody Albright, director of the Governor's Office of Art and Culture, which initiated the commission.

To be fair, Ms. Albright appears to have difficulty praising the artist's work.

In a statement which seems both strained and artificial, she emphasizes the tactile qualities of the sculpture, explaining how blind and disabled children might touch the doghouse and say, "Who lives in there?"

Other Albright accolades include, "comes alive when you put on your thinking cap and tell stories about it," "lends itself to a lot of imagination," "educational," "an imaginary street." As in Sesame?

A troubling aspect of this commission is the lost opportunity to celebrate -- in a most suitable context -- the blind and disabled experience.

Since the state deemed appropriate the construction of a separate library for the blind and physically handicapped; since the architect claimed the controversial design to be a metaphor for blindness; then why does "the metaphor stop there"?

It is incomprehensible that the panel could not find a "good enough" blind or disabled artist to express that voice.

The singular and simple emphasis on the tactile qualities of the sculpture bespeaks an insensitivity to the "culture of disability," with its attendant aesthetic components and perspectives, and, most importantly, its own artists.

Soliciting entries which celebrate the blind and disabled experience is neither xenophobic nor politically correct. It is common sense and common courtesy to commemorate those who are the exhibit's primary audience.

Nor should such criteria be construed as exclusionary or discriminatory.

Few thinking persons would fault a commission for the Eubie Blake Museum which emphasized the "celebration of the African-American experience," or for a women's center which specified the "expression of women's voice."

Perhaps Ms. Albright is correct about a blind or disabled child putting on a "thinking cap" and "imagining a story" after touching the miniature doghouse. Might this thinking child inquire if the artist is blind or disabled?

No "good enough" blind or disabled artist was found, the child is told. Might this now perplexed child respond: "How good do you have to be to build a little doghouse?"

Now, there's the beginning of an "imaginative story."

Marilynn J. Phillips, Ph.D.

Hampstead

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