Whose Fish Are They?
Congratulations to Dale Dirks for his excellent letter May 27. For reasons obscured by time and tradition, anti-commercial-fishing sentiment is rarely published in Maryland, although such sentiments are quite strong in a large percentage of Marylanders.
Let's look at some of the reasons for anti-commercial (anti-net) fishing sentiment:
* They are the good people who have exploited the natural stocks of sturgeon to the point where they virtually don't exist in the Chesapeake, made American and hickory shad and herring almost extinct, took us to the brink of extinguishing our beloved rockfish and put the viability of yellow perch, bluefish, trout and flounder in question.
* In Virginia's portion of the Chesapeake, they dredge hibernating crabs out of winter hiding places, strip "sponge" crabs (pregnant females) of their eggs to make them salable and have all but netted-out the menhaden that enter the bay, on which crabs and many species of fish feed extensively. Is it any wonder the crab population is facing collapse?
* The commercial fishers reap what they don't sow and, in fact, have done nothing to propagate or promote the recovery of damaged stocks. They simply take, take, take -- and develop new ways of doing it faster. (For example, the new multifilament nets Mr. Dirks wrote about.) This is not frontier America where land, game, fish and other resources can simply be grabbed for exploitation.
Ah, but if we stop the netters, thousands will lose their jobs! Not so. Less than 500 netters are actively working the entire bay.
And we sadly read of many more people than that losing their jobs at Goddard Space Center, Westinghouse, etc. A fickle economy is a fact of life.
Just as the high-tech workers will find new jobs, the netters can move into charter fishing, aquaculture and many other aspects of Maryland's multi-billion dollar marine industry.
Won't we lose fish as a staple in our diet if the netters are stopped? Absolutely not. The majority of our store-bought fish are imports or grown by aquaculture. In fact, most of what's left Maryland's fish are commercially harvested, exported and never reach our tables.
In contrast to the rape of Maryland's resources by a few netters, sportfishing on the Chesapeake is a billion dollar a year asset to the state.
Thanks to the Wallop-Breaux Act, millions of dollars collected by the federal government in taxes on sportfishing equipment are returned to the state to propagate stocks of endangered fish, study and rehabilitate fish habitat, and in general promote a healthy fishery.
Maryland's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) collects millions more in licensing fees, which it uses to actively regulate the sportfishing industry. Yet DNR is very casual about regulating the netters.
When all the factors governing Maryland's wild fish are weighed, I have to ask, whose fish? The obvious conclusion, if we want Maryland to have fish, is to stop the netters, the seiners, the dredgers, the purse netters, and above all the entanglement (gill) netters.
Will's Stand on Term Limits
In his column on term limits (Opinion * Commentary, May 24), George Will tries to make something of the fact that Justice Anthony Kennedy, who opposes term limits, occupies the seat for which term limits supporter Judge Robert Bork was nominated.
Mr. Will can't seem to get a grip on the reason the Senate rejected Judge Bork; that he was so arrogant as to be lacking in "judicial temperament." Mr. Will wants us to believe that because the Senate erred in not seeing confirmation as an empty formality, Justice Kennedy was obligated to vote the way Mr. Bork would have.
Mr. Will also makes the argument, subtly here and more blatantly in earlier columns, that we should enact term limits because the people want them.
This raises a conundrum: Why should we trust the people when they won't trust themselves? Term limits are inherently anti-democratic, no matter how many voters support them.
How would a supporter of limits handle this argument?: Massachusetts residents keep electing Ted Kennedy because they think he does a good job, and they want term limits to make North Carolina elect someone to Massachusetts' liking.
North Carolinians keep electing Jesse Helms because they think he does a good job, and they want term limits to force Massachusetts to elect someone to their liking. They would answer that incumbents acquire an unnatural advantage in name recognition and fund-raising that makes it harder to defeat them.
Now, we're talking real issues. These problems can be attacked directly by a different proposal: public campaign financing.
A famous statement (falsely attributed to Lincoln) says, "You can't build the poor up by tearing the rich down." Communism has collapsed in Europe because it restricted the rewards a person could earn. It tore the rich down.
Our Keynesian system has not come to such a screeching halt because it respects the market mechanism while trying to build the poor up.
Translate this to the political arena. The "rich" are incumbents who attain much name recognition and command large donations, and the "poor" are the worthy candidates deprived of office by the excessive power of incumbency. Term limits tear the "rich" down. Public campaign funding tries to build the "poor" up.
Two failings of term limits are easily foreseen. First, there are many incumbents who could win every election they enter even if the voters were perfectly well informed and perfectly capable of deciding their own interest. Limiting their terms keeps them from earning the reward to make their sacrifice worthwhile.
Second, many of the "idle rich" are machine politicians. Term limits can keep them from being re-elected, but it can't stop them from endorsing a successor. The machines' ability to groom successors would attract the favor of the money power, further building permanence. Even places which don't have a machine would see apparatchiks building their careers by waiting for the boss to retire.
Public campaign finance advocates hope that buying TV time for the "poor" candidates would boost their name recognition without tearing down the incumbents. Similar measures would help level the playing field the same way. This recognizes that sometimes the "rich" incumbents are more deserving than the "poor" challengers.
The only true reforms are those which empower voters who are educated, informed and alert.
Public campaign financing makes the voter better informed by negating the bias of paid advertising. Term limits dull the voters' informedness by making them find out about two new faces more often than retirement and higher office would.
So, which solution do the conservatives favor, the cheap socialism of term limits or the expensive finance reforms which respect market forces?
Mr. Will and company may well favor term limits in the hope that by dislodging incumbents, they free the money power from its need to keep those incumbents happy, and they'll have more cash to supply to their own challengers, further taking power from the people.
George Will's writings on term limits illustrate a hypocrisy I call "coincident populism." They don't care about empowering the people. Yet, when the public supports the policies they advocate, they have no qualms about using populist rhetoric to support their ends.
This letter concerns the recent Living American Flag, which was formed by thousands of elementary school children at Fort McHenry.
What an educational experience for these Maryland students, many of whom came from Baltimore City.
I am a former independent school headmaster and teacher, and I fully realize the lasting benefit of such a "hands-on" experience. Since patriotism is a learned experience, this opportunity was especially significant for them.
They were made aware that television and The Sun would be carrying it later that day or the next morning.
Since students have seen this Living Flag in color on the front page, they anticipated similar exposure. They were disappointed find a black and white photo on Page 5 in the Maryland section (May 17).
Presently I volunteer at Fort McHenry, where I meet students from all over the country and world. When people heard of this enormous Living Flag, they were most impressed.
Actually, a group from Cleveland was there for the performance and was most interested. I am convinced that there is no larger Living American Flag anywhere in the United States.
Uncle Sam and Francis Scott Key were in attendance and chatted with the students, quite a novel experience for the youngsters.
As a former educator, I am a firm believer in stressing more patriotism in our schools.
Actually, with greater exposure, the entire readership of The Sun would have profited from this most rewarding experience. Hopefully, in May of 1996 this function will receive greater attention.
E. S. Bradford Jr.
The Evening Sun
Daniel Berger's column May 27, concerning the announced demise of The Evening Sun, struck home with me, since I have always been an avid reader of evening newspapers.
In the years of my youth in Philadelphia I preferred that city's now-defunct Evening Bulletin over the morning paper.
When I transferred to Baltimore, I continued that preference with my subscription to The Evening Sun. And now it too has "succumbed to evening paper disease."
But my real concern is Daniel Berger's prediction of the death of all newspapers within two decades.
While the public today may receive most of its news from television and radio, many of us still want the additional in-depth detail that only a newspaper can provide.
I, myself, also find interesting the analyses provided by columnists, and the opinions offered in the editorials.
And then there are those of us who depend on newspapers to express our own opinions via a periodically published letter or article.
Where would we go to satisfy that urge to see our names in print, especially to appear in the same media once graced by such eminent writers as H. L. Mencken?
We wannabe authors would be at a loss without that opportunity to enjoy our moment in The Sun.
Let us hope that the death of all newspapers does not occur within our lifetime for, if it should, our individual claims to fame would surely die with it.
William F. Eckert
This is a shame because this area encompasses established neighborhoods that cannot coexist with the crowds brought in by these huge bars.
The residents of Fells Point are all too familiar with the mega-bar phenomenon. Remember Surfside Sally's and the resulting hordes of people?
I invite Governor Glendening to come to East Baltimore and walk along the waterfront from Little Italy to Canton and visit the many neighborhood bars and restaurants in the area.
He will see that not only does this area not need these mega-bars, but that they are incompatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.
The bottom line is that mega-bars and neighborhoods don't mix.
As a Christian believing in prayer, I feel compelled to respond to Philip A. Stahl's letter of May 30. There is a "need for prayer" for those of us who believe, since we are called to prayer by our Lord with the promise that we will be heard and answered.
I personally have living proof that my prayers have been answered. I wish to advise Mr. Stahl that our petitions are for help and salvation for all of us, as well as comfort and blessings for what has gone on before.
Mr. Stahl's statements, that prayer's "power resides in acting as a tranquilizer without the side-effects," and "it is our changed behaviors which will save us -- not any prayer," leads this believer to wonder what Mr. Stahl is being saved from and what he will do when he has to use a tranquilizer that does have side-effects.
Stephen A. Asendorf
I started to read Edward Gunts' May 7 article, "Naval Academy to Open New Visitor Center," in such a happy, proud mood.
Unfortunately, it did not last too long thanks to Mr. Gunts. At several points throughout the article, he felt it necessary to inject his negative attitude toward the Naval Academy.
Mr. Gunts did not write anything about the two Naval officers for whom the center is named -- Lyle O. Armel II and William G. Leftwich Jr.
However, he lost no opportunity to dredge up anything and everything the academy has had to endure.
He is certainly subtle in his ridicule of the Naval Academy, and not every reader would pick it up at first glance.
Mr. Gunts should have written two articles if he wished, one containing just information regarding the new visitor center and the second a reminder to the public that the "Navy doesn't always enjoy the smoothest of sailing in the publicity department."
The Naval Academy and the great capital city of Annapolis have always complimented one another, and the new visitor center lends itself perfectly even though they will sell "T-shirts."
$ East Northport, N.Y.
India Deserves Support on Kashmir
Your May 17 editorial on Charar-i-Sharief was at best ignorant and superficial and at worst smacked of extreme bias against India.
If you had done some fact-finding, you would have been able to bring out the following facts:
1. When India gained independence from Britain, Muslims wanted a separate country. Border states were given a choice by the British to join India or Pakistan.
The Maharajah of Kashmir, ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, did not choose either until Pakistan attacked Kashmir. At that time he signed the document of accession to India. Indian forces were then able to repulse the Pakistani forces. A cease-fire came into effect. This matter was brought to the U.N. in 1948 by India. The U.N. resolution called for a plebiscite, but withdrawal of the Pakistani military was a prerequisite which Pakistan never fulfilled.
The resolution of half a century ago does not have the same validity because so much has changed.
2. India chose to be a secular democracy since independence, and the state of Kashmir like other states had its own legislature and democratic process. Since Muslims were in majority, the leaders who ruled were all Muslims.
The poor Muslim population of Kashmir benefited greatly since 1947, not only from controlling the government and business but also from subsidies from the Indian government. Hardly a repressive rule.
For the past 45 years, Hindus of Kashmir suffered blatant discrimination. They could not get good jobs. Their children could not get admission to professional colleges even when qualified.
But they accepted this as a fact of life, and have been leaving Kashmir for the rest of India for better opportunities. Non-Kashmiris are prohibited from owning property in Kashmir, while all Kashmiris could own property wherever they liked in the rest of India.
3. All this was unfair but tolerated until the summer of 1989, when Muslim fundamentalists started killing innocent Hindu civilians.
In the next two to three years close to 1,000 were murdered. About 90 percent of the Hindus fled homes where they had been living for generations . . . Even today, close to 100,000 people are living in tattered tents around Jammu. Many died. Children suffered indescribable trauma. Even some of the Muslim businessmen fled.
The Indian government has provided some assistance to these refugees, saving them from starvation. Even Muslim businesses in Kashmir have been compensated by the government for losses due to unrest.
Muslim fundamentalists have murdered anyone daring to speak against them. They have killed countless journalists, television directors, judges, government and police officials and politicians. They have killed many Muslims.
The government of India has scheduled elections, but the militants do not want anyone to participate. These militants are joined by fundamentalist fighters from Sudan, Algeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The whole movement is controlled and directed by Pakistan's intelligence services.
4. Charar-i-Sharief was not occupied by peaceful democratic people. These were hard-core militants from all these countries in addition to Kashmiri militants responsible for innumerable killings.
It would not make much sense for the Indian army to set fire to this shrine. The Indian government has everything to lose in world opinion. Exactly the same kind of situation was resolved peacefully last year at another well-known shrine. This incident was an obvious tactic by militants to provoke reaction from the Indian government and to win propaganda points in world opinion and from journalists like you.
5. A larger question is whether, in a democratic set-up, terrorism and killing are justifiable means to bring about political change. It is their own people who are in office and they have the power of the ballot to throw them out.
Another important thing to consider is that the total population of Kashmiri Muslims is about 4 or 5 million out of a total population of 900 million in India.
This is the only state with a Muslim majority. If Kashmiri Muslims were to join Pakistan solely on the basis of religion and terrorizing the Hindu minority, it would be a dangerous precedent for the other Indian states and 100 million Muslims in them.
In spite of a poor population and religious differences and all odds, India has nurtured a democracy in a part of the world where that is an exception. India needs the understanding and support of democratic and peace-loving countries -- if we are to avoid hundreds of Bosnias.
D. K. Varma