Brats/No BratsWith all the controversy surrounding the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Brats/No Brats

With all the controversy surrounding the banning of smoking in public places and the banning, by some workplaces, of perfumes, after-shaves and colognes, due to the possibility of health risks and the infringement on the rights of others to clean air, there is one more area that needs to be addressed; unruly and/or crying children in restaurants.

Going out for dinner with a spouse or friends is no longer relaxing or enjoyable if your entree is interrupted by the cries or smell of a two-month-old baby. Even more annoying, the screams of a rambunctious three-year-old, who refuses to sit in the high chair and continues to run between tables while his/her parents sit and smile and call out, "Now come back here. Don't run, you'll fall. Don't make Daddy come after you."

This is not to say that parents with small children should not go out to dinner and take them along; however, consideration should be given to others who utilize a night out as an escape from a hard day or an event to be enjoyed and remembered. Parents should teach children that this is not acceptable behavior in a public place. If the child refuses to behave, or in the case of an infant continues to cry or needs to be changed, the parent(s) should remove the child to avoid disrupting other diners.

Many restaurants have already installed baby-changing equipment in the restrooms to accommodate customers with infants; they would be wise to accommodate those without, by designating a separate section for patrons who wish to dine sans babies or small children.

It would behoove restaurants to provide diners with the following choices; smoking, non-smoking, children or no-children.

Pamela S. Stewart

Phoenix

Alan Keyes

I read, with interest which turned quickly to dismay, Michael Olesker's column about Alan Keyes. Be sure of one thing: Nobody, and nobody's political agenda, "gave" Keyes what he has achieved.

When he was a high school student in San Antonio, the members of a local American Legion post did not "give" him the opportunity to compete in a national oratorical contest, which he subsequently won. Keyes earned that opportunity.

(I know that for a fact. I placed second to his first place at that local level contest; and, having heard him speak, I, too, would have awarded him first place.)

That same American Legion post did not "give" Keyes the opportunity to attend Boys' State, where the other participants elected him governor and sent him to Boys' Nation, where he was elected president (just like our current chief executive). He earned those opportunities.

Likewise, no one "gave" Keyes his scholarships, his college education and his doctoral degree. He worked for them.

Though I lost track of Keyes for a number of years, I feel safe in saying that no one "gave" him his State Department posts. I am sure that he competed on an even playing field, or perhaps one tilted slightly against him, and he earned everything and every post that he received.

Do I believe that Alan Keyes can become president in 1996? No, he probably cannot. But it will not be because he was not "given" the opportunity, nor because he has forgotten anything.

Rather, it may be because he remembers who he was and how he became who he is. Where Alan Keyes is now, he got the old-fashioned way. He earned it.

Chalmers A. Kirk

Baltimore

Zero Sum

I'm sure you agonized for hours over the headline for the lead story on the March 23 front page.

Should you fretfully say, "Maryland could lose $1 billion under GOP welfare bill" (as you did)? Or should you joyously proclaim, "Taxpayers could be saved $1 billion under GOP welfare bill?"

In this zero-sum game, every dollar "lost" by the state is a dollar saved for its earner.

We've had decades of programs being piled on top of programs, many promising to save us money in the long run. Well, the long run is upon us and those "savings" have taken us broke. Let the cuts begin.

Dave Reich

Timonium

Social Security

My parents got back many times what they paid into the Social Security program.

I (age 51) am told I will get back about 98 percent of what I paid in, but my son (age 20s) will only get back some 68 percent of what he pays in, even if he always pays the maximum amount.

This means he will lose 32 cents on every dollar he contributes. In addition, he will get back none of his employers' contributions. Consequently, I submit the following solution:

Make Social Security mandatory at the same percentage now being paid, but let it be paid to your choice of a bank or other private (stock, annuity, etc.) facility.

Any bank or conservative investment will most certainly return at the very least your initial investment. This plan also saves all the administrative cost of the federal bureaucracy. Please note that I am not suggesting, at this time, any changes in Medicare or Medicaid.

Myron E. Taylor

Brookeville

Mormons

We appreciate reporter Michael Ollove's efforts in preparing the article appearing March 19 concerning the Mormon missionaries. There are two points that need to be clarified.

1. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are not disciples of Joseph Smith; we are disciples of Jesus Christ.

2. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has known as much persecution as any group; but, unlike many groups that have been persecuted and then become the persecutors, this has not happened with the Church.

On the contrary, throughout its history this Church and its members have performed numerous acts of service to nonmembers and rendered help to the downtrodden and those who have been discriminated against, and many of these acts have involved African-Americans.

Bruce M. Ballard

Ellicott City

The writer is president of the Maryland Baltimore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Care Debate Ignores the Patient

The March 19 article about managed mental health care and the battle between two psychiatrists for the presidency of the American Psychiatric Association evoked such a reaction in me that I feel a need to respond.

I am appalled time and time again when issues concerning managed health care arise and the entire debate revolves around business -- either that of the managed care companies or of the physicians. Where in all this controversy does the patient fit in?

Just the fact that this article appeared in the Business section instead of the People section is a big statement.

I have been involved in outpatient psychotherapy for the past five years. For the past two years, my benefits have been managed by Green Spring Mental Health Services.

I have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy fighting to obtain authorization for continued treatment. There have been requests and demands for psychiatric evaluation, "suggestions" that I be started on medication and questions as to why I had not.

I have repeatedly been asked for additional, specific information after receiving detailed treatment plans. All of these slow the authorization process and the reimbursement of money paid to me.

Just the authorization process is enough to frustrate or intimidate some people, especially when you consider that many people who seek mental health benefits are vulnerable and have a certain degree of impaired self-esteem. I can see how the review process alone is cost-efficient for these agencies because it frightens people away.

After being denied my benefits, I exposed myself to other agencies that I thought would help me to obtain my authorization.

Just the sharing of this information interferes with the therapy process which is primarily built on trust and confidentiality. As a health care professional, I know how easy it is to obtain medical information and have concerns that someone who I know may inadvertently see my treatment plans.

Additionally, my managed care company communicates information only to my therapist. Repeated requests that they include me in their decisions and correspondence have never been honored.

I feel that my therapy is about me and not the provider or the managed care companies.

It's frightening to think that both the managed care companies and the psychiatrists are engaged in such a battle about the "well-being" of people who don't seem to have a place in the debate. Where is there room for the patient?

Margaret Baratta

Millers

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