In his 1961 inauguration speech, President John F. Kennedy pleaded with the American people to "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."
At this time when crucial decisions are being made by our representatives in Washington, we should tell them that we are willing to give up something -- to make sacrifices, as long as they are fair -- in order to restore American values.
Phillip R. Grossman
While our fearless leaders rant and rave in reference to the flat tax, they overlook a most significant fact. A consumption tax permits Uncle Sam to collect from everybody.
In order to increase revenue, we are sorely in need of a national sales tax or a value added tax.
It is the only way to permit the government to receive money from those who are involved in the huge underground economy.
Under our present system, the wages of sin are not reported.
I prefer the value added tax, because most states already have a sales tax, and the VAT is a hidden one which many of us will accept.
About 25 tycoons avoid paying U.S. taxes by becoming a citizen of a foreign nation. Congress refuses to close this loophole.
Some people believe that these fat cats contribute large donations to powerful politicians. When gold argues the cause, eloquence is impotent.
Leaving the scraps
A front page article on June 28 was headlined "Congress urged to pre-empt generational crisis." That's right, Social Security is fast going broke. So who broke it? Certainly not the wealthy contributors to this mismanaged government annuity.
So let's look elsewhere. Who else had the opportunity to get their stickly fingers on it?
How about members of Congress? Who should pay for the fixing? Who else but the "raiders of the old folks fund," to whom care of the Social Security Trust Fund was entrusted.
They nonchalantly confiscated the monies therein for their own pet pork-barrel schemes, tossing in their place a bunch of worthless IOUs.
So now they try the ploy of pitting the younger generation against the olders, whose only crime is having reached retirement age before it was all squandered by Congress, leaving nothing for the "Johnny-come-latelies" but paper scraps.
Blanche K. Coda
In The Sun of June 27 was an article on the Nehemiah III project. This is to spend $14 million to renovate or build 150 homes for sale in the Johnson Square area, because it is blighted.
It seems to me that the authorities, since I began reading the newspapers, circa 1935, have been trying to renovate run down and abandoned areas. I do not know how many areas or how much has been spent, but it seems that after 50 years and all that money, they could have rebuilt the whole city at least once. And it is probably worse now than it was in 1935.
On the other side of the coin there was an article in the Real Estate section, June 25, about Aero Acres and Victory Villa.
These 310 homes, according to the article, built to last a maximum of 10 years in 1941-2, are still in good condition after 52 years.
This should show that responsible people can act like human beings. Does this dilemma have a message?
W. A. Jenkins
'New' programs on WJHU aren't very new
On June 23 an important part of Baltimore's cultural structure was torn away by the decision of the management of WJHU-FM to dramatically change that radio station's programming format by stripping away all of the classical music except for a few hours on weekends.
Dennis Kita, WJHU general manager, said this is being done "to provide service which is not available." Accepting this as his true motive, it must be pointed out that he is mistaken.
Much of WJHU's new programming was already available from Washington stations WAMU and WETA, which are well within the reception area of Baltimore listeners.
I live about 30 miles north of Baltimore, and I receive both Washington stations at home and in my car. I have achieved moderate reception with a Walkman.
It is a gross disservice to the staff at WJHU to suggest that their efforts can be replaced by the other Baltimore classical music station. The professionalism of people such as Lisa Simeone, Bill Spencer and Bob Benson is not replaceable. Additionally, the repertoire, or knowledge of the breadth of it, is so limited on the other station that its output becomes predictable and boring.
I have contributed to WJHU for many years and am also a member of the Friends of WJHU, a volunteer group that helps during fund drives, miscellaneous station activities and produces the bi-monthly Notes, a publication of information on station activities and personnel.
I have been a regular listener of WJHU's classical programming, only infrequently switching to other stations. I am also a devoted fan of National Public Radio news and generally depend on WJHU for it. I also listen to "talk radio" on WAMU and classical music on WETA.
It is with considerable regret that I am terminating my support of the station. I met many fine people in Friends of WJHU and it has been my pleasure to work with them.
The change in the station's format came without warning on a Friday morning.
It seems as though it was done that way to forestall any objections that would have been heard had the plans been announced on the air.
A smaller, healthier Baltimore City
During the past nine years, my partners and I have renovated over 40 houses in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore City -- without public assistance.
We also are converting several large vacant buildings in south Charles Village to moderate income housing -- with some public assistance. In Remington we have a total of over 50 houses, and about 15 percent are Section 8 vouchers (where the rental aid travels with the renter).
Your editorial of June 10, "Baltimore's Troubled Neighborhood," is timely. In the face of a declining population, the city just can't save every neighborhood.
We have been successful in Remington because we have been able to buy and renovate just about every vacant house and most identified drug houses. I am convinced that as long as we (and other private entrepreneurs) keep the vacant house situation under control, and the police continue active anti-drug efforts, Remington will be fine.
Our next goal is increased home ownership by our tenants, and we will need help there -- but, that is another story.
Before developing a strategy, the voters should decide on the size of the city. Not so long ago . . . the boundaries of Baltimore City were frozen in time and space. The state can extend the city boundaries, or parts of the city could be ceded back . . . to the counties.
Assuming no change in size, the strategy is relatively simple (but the implementation is not).
If the city can't compress its borders, it must compress its neighborhoods. In the face of a declining population, every neighborhood can not be saved.
The city needs to realistically estimate future population levels, identify neighborhoods with low to moderate numbers of vacant houses and use economic incentives to relocate the declining population to the identified neighborhoods.
The size or location of the structure is not important -- Remington is mostly narrow houses built on alleys -- and rarely is it more cost effective to build new, rather than renovate.
Don't give a lot of money to developers. If they know that a neighborhood is destined to have a few vacant buildings and an increasing population, they should need little incentive to invest there.
Give most of the money to homeowners and to relocated families. Then, demolish the excess housing and rezone the land with an eye on the 21st century. The result will be a smaller, healthier Baltimore.
Then Baltimore should be able to quit complaining about its problems and capitalize on the fact that it has one of the greatest potential stocks of available land in the entire D.C.-New York corridor. With warehouse and technology space between Baltimore and D.C. in great demand, why does Baltimore City have a problem with its tax base?
H. Richard Piet