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Wit and wisdomIn the years since he...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Wit and wisdom

In the years since he joined the staff of feature writers for your paper, Jacques Kelly's column has never failed to please.

His writing is for me a treasure trove of wit and wisdom, nostalgia and novelty, insight and inspiration.

Thank you, Jacques, for the many times you've enriched my day.

Nancy V. Webb

Baltimore

Redundant doctor

The office of U.S. surgeon general was established about a century ago to ensure medical care for U.S. seamen.

Now the surgeon general tells us to stop smoking, lose weight, exercise more and use contraceptives to prevent abortions.

The Department of Health and Human Services is supposed to " operate the government's health-care programs. Therefore, HHS can take over the duties of the surgeon general.

The time has come to abolish the surgeon general's office; the Department of Health and Human Services has made the position redundant.

If Congress wants to save $1 million a year . . . it ought to eliminate the surgeon general.

Joseph Lerner

Baltimore

Sensitive soul

Regarding House Speaker Newt Gingrich's complaints over being investigated, scrutinized, smeared and attacked, and his reaction to criticism of his wife being hired by a private company trying to create a free-trade zone in Israel, is his head in the sand?

What about the relentless criticism of the president and Mrs. Clinton? I don't hear any complaints from either of them, except when someone called Mrs. Clinton a "bitch."

If Mr. Gingrich can't stand the heat he should get out of the kitchen. I believe that quote came from former President Harry S. Truman.

M. Gross

Essex

High-profile trial

When the high profile trial of O. J. Simpson began in Los Angeles three weeks ago, I had hoped to witness the prosecution and defense of the accused.

Instead, I am witnessing the prosecution of the Los Angeles Police Department by the defense and the defense of the LAPD by the prosecution.

The bizarre events both in and out of the courtroom have turned this trial into a soap opera, causing the actual evidence to be lost in histrionics. Even the fact that two young lives were brutally cut short has been lost in the drama.

J. Bauer

Baltimore

Why punish single parents for working?

I have two things in common with Los Angeles prosecutor Marcia Clark: I have two boys, and I worry about the quality and quantity of time I spend with them.

Ms. Clark has the finances to care for her children properly. She is capable of providing the best for them, which I count as a blessing.

I am receiving aid to families with dependent children and am in the process of breaking away from the system by taking a training course.

The question I have is, what happens when I or the hundreds of other women on AFDC get out of the system, start to work and become productive citizens again?

Will someone come after us, saying we don't spend quality or quantity time with our children and want to take them from us?

Face it, half of the women on AFDC are busting their butts by themselves. With all the training programs available now, what happens to those of us who do get a job that requires demanding hours?

As a single mother on AFDC trying to make it out of the system and into the work force, it angers me that judges could take the stand they are taking against mothers in regard to child custody.

If you want people off the welfare system and women who are capable and productive, judges need to re-evaluate their stands on custody, especially when custody is taken away from working mothers.

The days of Mama being at home and Papa going off to work are long gone. The days of single parenthood and fathers not being around are here to stay.

As far as Ms. Clark is concerned, in my opinion the least her husband could have done was help with the children. He is not totally unaware of the type of work she does. I think his actions are cowardly and vindictive.

Judith Alves

Baltimore

Dangers of second-hand smoke greatly exaggerated

As a smoker, I can't believe that the citizens of Maryland are going to let this bogus smoking ban go into effect. We have been tricked by the anti-smoking fanatics into legislation banning smoking in the work place.

It's the old sales trick where the salesman gives you such a ridiculously high price on the outset that you're happy you can "negotiate" a lower price.

The anti-smoking fanatics knew they wouldn't be able to get a statewide smoking ban through the legislature, so they concocted this administrative ban.

This would never stand up to a legal challenge because cigarette smoking is not an illegal activity, and the ban was not legislated by state law.

So now it appears that it will be legislated with some changes, exempting restaurants, bars, hotels and the tourist industry.

This still leaves all the other industries in Maryland subject to this ridiculous law. This law is supposed to be about subjecting Maryland workers to the "risk" of second-hand smoke.

However, the real agenda of the anti-smoking fanatics is to make impossible for smokers to smoke anywhere.

How do I know this? About 10 years ago I was speaking to [former state licensing secretary] William Fogle on business, and he noticed that I was smoking a cigarette.

We happened to be outside at the time, and he expressed to me how disgusted he was by cigarette smoking and how he hoped that one day it would be made illegal.

I just smiled politely, since he was a business client and I know what side my bread is buttered on.

Also, one of my sisters, who has worked for a major health organization for many years, told me long ago that the health industry intended to wipe out cigarette smoking completely in America.

My sister was happy about this, since she is very anti-smoking. (As an aside, this is my sister who wouldn't tolerate one food touching another on her plate well into her late teens.)

The dangers of second-hand smoke have been greatly exaggerated. I can cite my own personal experiences. I smoked all through my pregnancy 29 years ago (I was 18 at the time), and delivered a healthy, eight-pound,

four-and-three-quarter-ounce baby boy.

Though I smoked even when I gave him his bottles, my son never had any upper respiratory problems, earaches or other health problem. He got his first cold when he was 2 years old. This was because I had placed him in day care at that time.

He is still very healthy and hasn't lived at home for over 10 years. He also never took up cigarette smoking.

On the other hand, my son's ex-wife was born into a household where no one smoked. However, she had asthma and was allergic to almost everything. Could it be that second-hand cigarette smoke only aggravates health problems that are already present?

My husband, who has never smoked, is very upset about the smoking ban. About half of our employees smoke, and he doesn't really want to decree that they can no longer smoke in our building.

As a matter of principle, he doesn't believe that government should set policy in private businesses.

I agree with him, though the ban doesn't affect me personally. I work from home via computer and can smoke as much as I like.

It would be more logical to have businesses that allow smoking in their buildings post a sign at the entrances stating that smoking is allowed.

That way, people who are affected by cigarette smoke would be warned away.

If, after a period of time, those businesses discover that they are losing customers because they allow smoking in their buildings, they will ban smoking on their own. No government intervention is needed . . .

Diane Turner

Mt. Airy

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