Legal Isn't Right
Columnists Carl Rowan and Ellen Goodman have strenuously advocated the appointment of Dr. Henry Foster to be surgeon general of the United States.
Both writers emphasized that since abortion is legal and even though Dr. Foster had performed numerous abortions, this fact should not even be a consideration.
If slavery were still legal in the United States, would these two syndicated columnists be clamoring for the appointment of a slave trader as secretary of labor?
Roger R. Rice
I am very disappointed with the reporting in The Sun (April 7) by Julia Prodis of the Associated Press regarding Howard Stern's alleged "mocking [Tejano singer] Selena and her music."
If Ms. Prodis were a regular listener to the Howard Stern Show and heard what Mr. Stern, in fact said (and did not say), she could not in good conscience have written such a blatant lie.
Mr. Stern said nothing detrimental about Selena specifically. He expressed his opinion (per his First Amendment right) that he did not like Tejano/Mexican music and proceeded to make a comedy bit out of the music.
The news of Selena's tragic death was being reported on Howard Stern's show and sound effects were being played by the person in his studio as usual.
During every newscast, this person plays sound effects. When Carroll O'Connor's son committed suicide with a gun, the news was announced on Stern's show with the sound effect of a gunshot and a "body drop" being played. No one rallied to protest.
When there was an automobile accident being reported, car crash sound effects were played. Victims of automobile accidents around the country did not call and stage a boycott.
When two baseball players were decapitated because of being drunk while boating, splash and crash sound effects were played. Baseball players and organizations nationwide did not blacklist Stern.
Stern's show is about satire, parody, comedy and, ultimately -- politically correct or not -- truth. If one has no sense of humor, then one should not listen. And if one wants to report an accurate story, one should get the facts.
The agenda of the Hispanic community is ostracizing Stern for his alleged comments (which were no doubt relayed to them through second-hand information such as inaccurate newspaper articles) insults me as an American protected under the First Amendment right to free speech and should infuriate any like-minded person.
The last time I checked, this was a free country -- precisely the reason people of so many different ethnic backgrounds come here to live in the first place.
From "GOP's Proposed Tax Cuts," April 6, it is evident that they are an effort to correct unjust taxation and therefore should not be labeled "tax cuts" at all.
The House of Representatives is to be complimented for its vision and, hopefully, the Senate and the president will show the same good sense.
Contrary to what the Democrats claim, these amendments are good for the middle income families.
Even the business breaks will benefit the majority of Americans, because a great majority gets its livelihood being employed by businesses, be it a huge steel company or a dentist employing three people.
What is good for business is good for all people.
Kalevi A. Olkio
The article "A Dose of Homeopathy," by Linell Smith, April 4, is another example of the news media merely parroting the claims of homeopathic promoters.
While the article was indeed informative, it was short on some important facts and, more importantly, some of the basic science.
First, Ms. Smith reports that homeopathic medicines are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as drugs and that approximately 95 percent are available over the counter.
Federal laws require that drugs be proven effective if they claim to treat "a serious condition . . . requiring diagnosis and treatment by a licensed practitioner."
FDA policy states that nonprescription homeopathic drugs may be sold "only for self-limiting conditions recognizable by consumers."
Therefore, if the FDA required homeopathic remedies to be proved effective in order to remain on the market -- the standard as it applies to real drugs -- homeopathy would face extinction in the United States.
Second, there is some real quackery or witch-doctoring here.
Most homeopathic remedies are made by serially diluting certain minerals, botanical substances or other sources. The substance is diluted in aqueous or alcoholic solutions to several powers of 10.
These are designated as X (1 dilution in 10 = 1X, 1 dilution in 1,000 = 3X, etc.) Most remedies today range from 6X to 30X.
Certainly every reader who is familiar with high school chemistry will note at once that if a homeopathic remedy is labelled as 24X or more, (Avogadro's number), not a single molecule of the original source would remain.
When confronted with this basic objective scientific fact, some homeopathic practitioners claim, as was reported in Ms. Smith's article, that vigorous shaking or pulverizing with each step of dilution leaves behind a "healing energy" on the individual solvent molecules. This notion is utter baloney.
If that were true, every other molecule of another substance encountered by a water or alcohol solvent molecule should obtain a unique "imprint" and could exert its own powerful and (unpredictable) medicinal effect when ingested by a person.
An informed public should remain aware and skeptical of homeopathy, especially when its promoters are working hard to have their services covered under national health insurance.
Especially alarming are those homeopathic practitioners who claim to be concerned with disease prevention while also preaching against immunization.
The writer is a science teacher in the Harford County Public Schools.
Social Security Arithmetic
It was inevitable that a letter like that of Myron E. Taylor (April 4), would follow Joan Beck's March 29 column about Social Security.
Ms. Beck described her view on how investing the employer and employee Social Security contributions made on behalf of a worker over 40 years would be worth far more than what the plan now pays retirees over their lifetimes.
Mr. Taylor picks up on this and wants Social Security taxes retained as mandatory but invested by the worker. He points out that each worker will at least get his initial investment back. Both discussions are in the context of Social Security being solely a retirement system.
Both writers fail to recognize the survivors and disability costs and benefits of the Social Security program.
Recent figures indicate that nearly 4 million disabled workers are being paid around $28 billion per year. Survivors of deceased workers and children, totaling more than 5 million, are being paid over $10 billion per year.
This is not pocket change. These benefits are paid out of the Social Security taxes Ms. Beck and Mr. Taylor seem to think are wholly devoted to retirement payments.
To have the full amounts Ms. Beck and Mr. Taylor calculate available for investment, the disability and survivors aspect of the Social Security program would have to be abolished so that the program becomes simply a retirement plan. I'm not sure workers generally would agree with this.
Alternatively, if the disability and survivors aspect of the program is to be retained to meet the needs of an industrial society either through compulsory private insurance or continuation of the present disability and survivors programs, the amount of money remaining for investment for retirement turns out to be considerably less than visualized by Ms. Beck and Mr. Taylor. They had better go back to their calculators. . .
I agree that there are some long-range problems in the Social Security system that need to be dealt with. The first step is to get the facts on the program correct. . .
Gerald B. Johnston