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Some get reliefThere has been a lot...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Some get relief

There has been a lot of puffery in the press and on television and radio about reducing budgets, balancing budgets and reducing deficits, with much of the emphasis on who is going to lose what. How about someone demonstrating to us citizens who stands to gain?

Let's start with the $17 billion in tax relief over the next five years that the National Association of Manufacturers has gotten for corporations (Evening Sun, April 30). I suppose that is in addition to the subsidies they get for advertising, exports, tariffs, etc. Where is this going to be made up? Any guesses?

Russ Seese

Aberdeen.

TV better anyway

I was terribly sad to learn that The Evening Sun is finally breathing its last breath. What was once an excellent newspaper has become the tag-along little sister to The Sun, awkwardly imitating her in every way. The two have become indistinguishable, except that Evening Sun news is more outdated.

One cannot expect a reasonably intelligent public to buy the same paper twice in one day, so, naturally, The Evening Sun's sales dropped. In addition, The Evening Sun's choice of The Sun as a role model was poor. In the vacuum of a noncompetitive environment, The Sun itself slipped into mediocrity.

Case in point: The front page story May 26 announces The Evening Sun's impending demise and eulogizes her glory days. Yet, on the first page of the Today section, in living color, the same paper that was once a bastion of journalistic excellence incorrectly identifies Channel 2's Stan Stovall as Channel 11's Virg Jacques. To add insult to injury, in the front-page article "changing reader habits" (i.e., TV news) was blamed for stealing most of The Sun's market.

The irony is that those readers who have turned away from the newspaper medium in favor of television will be the first to notice The Sun's mistake. The Sun has managed to aptly illustrate its incompetence and reassure the public that it makes the right decision in choosing TV over the daily paper.

Jennifer Homes

Mount Washington

Let it shine

"I hate to see that Evening Sun go down!"

B. C. Kenny

Catonsville

Reminiscing

I miss the days when OJ was served with breakfast,fertilizer was for your lawn, DNA were two grades you got on tests. Things are not the same. Words bring different thoughts and images, a sign of the times. I miss the good old days.

James E. Lorber

Baltimore

Worked for it

I feel compelled to set the record straight about government retirement benefits. Federal retirees pay for their retirement benefits while they are working. Nothing is given to them. They do not receive pensions, they receive annuities. These retirement annuities are paid for by those people who are currently working for the federal government.

Current federal workers must pay into Social Security and the federal Civil Service Retirement System, if they wish to do so. It is optional for the latter. Government retirees pay income taxes on the first dollar they receive. Congress has its own retirement system, into which its members make contributions.

Charles S. Bernstein

Baltimore

The writer is a retired civil service employee.

Protect young people from TV violence

As a teacher of history for many years, I have found that television presents educators, parents and young people with serious concerns that must be addressed.

Television has, in a relatively short time, brought immense changes. Unfortunately, many of these changes have not been good. Every night one may watch many murders and assaults, both on the news and on entertainment shows. Americans have become desensitized by viewing so many brutal killings and murders.

Television has led a generation of young people to believe that violence, killing and gun-play are a normal part of life. Victims on TV are clubbed, kicked, even shot, and still walk away good as new.

Young minds are imprinted with these brutal images. Many come to believe that they, too, can engage in violence as it is depicted on television and survive.

Television has created a fantasy world. We have become like the Romans of antiquity, reveling in death, violence and evil.

However, when violent fantasies are carried out by real people, great tragedies occur and our entire society suffers.

I hope Americans begin to realize that shows depicting violence can in time signal the destruction of civilization. The daily spectacles of violence and death in the Roman Colosseum made many Romans uncaring. The same could happen in contemporary America.

We have a responsibility to shield youngsters from television violence. Make no mistake: Television violence leaves lasting impressions on young Americans, and these impressions are not in the best interest of anyone.

John A. Micklos

Baltimore

The writer teaches history at Perry Hall High School.

Limiting children's access to cigarette machines

I remain astounded at the stubborn refusal of the Maryland General Assembly to enact legislation to limit the accessibility of cigarette vending machines to minors.

I am stubborn, too. I will keep sponsoring this legislation until it is approved.

Neither horrifying cancer death statistics, which reveal that tobacco use is a factor behind 41 percent of all cancer deaths in the state, nor the loss of millions of dollars in federal substance abuse prevention and treatment funds appears to move the legislature.

Maryland is in danger of losing $24.3 million, roughly half of all its money for drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment, it if does not comply with the 1993 Syndar Amendment under the Public Health Service Act, which mandates that states halt illegal tobacco sales to minors.

Specifically, the federal initiative requires states to make it illegal to sell tobacco to minors under 18 years old and to enforce the law "in a manner that can reasonably be expected to reduce the extent to which tobacco products are made available to minors."

Maryland has already received two warning letters from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding the loss of funds for noncompliance. Baltimore County stands to lose $1.7 million in substance abuse prevention and treatment funds. Baltimore City will lose $7.3 million.

Baltimore City is number one nationally in cocaine, heroin and alcohol-related emergency room episodes per 100,000 residents. The city has approximately 5,200 treatment beds for 50,000 addicts.

Maryland law already bans the sale of tobacco products to minors under 18. But despite proof that vending machines are the primary way minors buy cigarettes -- only one in 10 is stopped -- the legislature turns its back on making cigarette machines less accessible to children as a way of enforcing the law banning the sale of tobacco products to minors.

The bill I have sponsored for the past few sessions prohibits the operation of cigarette and tobacco products vending machines except in taverns, tobacco shops and any establishment where a minor is legally barred from entering.

The bill defines a tavern as a place that sells alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption and such sales generate 60 percent or more of the total annual gross sales.

The Journal of the American Medical Association states that tobacco is the nation's number one killer and causes more deaths than alcohol, firearms, motor vehicles and illegal drugs combined.

It should be emphasized that youngsters are the tobacco industry's biggest customers and represent 90 percent of the industry's new smokers. Every day in the U.S. about 5,000 children begin smoking.

Sixty percent of all new smokers are 14 years old or younger. Of smokers who start as children, 90 percent become addicted. An estimated 3.1 million smokers age 12 through 17 consume $1 billion worth of tobacco products each year.

No one, except the tobacco industry, disputes the lethal potential of tobacco use. Studies confirm the dangers of starting to smoke at an early age. That's why we have a law on the books prohibiting the sale of tobacco to minors. The passage of the cigarette vending machine bill would help enforce that law and bring us into compliance with the federal law.

Vernon Boozer

Baltimore

The writer represents Maryland's Ninth Legislative District in the state Senate.

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