When I read of Congress' attempts to find painless ways to cut the budget, increase military spending, continue tobacco and sugar subsidies and, at the same time, reduce taxes, I am reminded of a remark made by a former foreign minister of France who was recently quoted by Time magazine: "It is hard to take seriously a nation which has deep problems if they can be fixed by a 50-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline."
Violence and Death
Thank you for The Sun's special report on Battalion 316 which operated in Honduras in the early 1980s.
I have just returned from seven and a half years working with the Catholic Church in El Salvador, where the same torture techniques were applied to many of my Salvadoran friends. In El Salvador, as in Honduras and Guatemala, the United States government condoned and denied human rights abuses by the Salvadoran government against its own citizens.
I remember visiting a friend in the women's prison in San Salvador in 1989. The office where she had been working was ransacked, she was captured, taken to the prison, hung from her breasts and then punched and beaten by the jail guards.
When a delegation from Baltimore visited the United States Embassy in San Salvador in 1989, an embassy official responded to the question, "How do you monitor human rights violations in El Salvador?" by saying, "We read about them in the Salvadoran press . . . we are not allowed to go out into the countryside because of the danger." The policies of the United States government during that time did not bring about democracy and freedom; instead they brought about corruption, lying, deceit, injustice, violence and death.
We are a country in denial. The disclosure of the truth about the role of the United States in Central America is a hopeful sign that we will be jolted into the awareness of what our government is capable of doing.
Ginger Thompson, Gary Cohn and The Sun are to be commended for the courage of their investigative reporting.
Sister Catherine Arata
Numerous reports in the press foretell losses of jobs by many workers of large corporations that in the interest of greater efficiency and profit plan large scale reorganization.
Loss of many jobs affect not only those unfortunate people who lose employment but also their community, since loss of business, increased burden on the welfare system and increase of crime are all correlated with increased unemployment in a community.
The question arises whether it would not be fair and fully justified to demand a larger share of contribution to the increased cost to the public when a private company increases its profit at the price of pushing additional burden onto the taxpayers. Of course, the company might respond by threats of pulling out entirely from the community. Such a move would involve additional expenses and a loss of trained work force.
By carefully considering the pros and cons, a community might recover some of its extra burden, and obligate a company to take into consideration additional factors besides profitability in making decisions about its employees.
G. G. Pinter
Not My View
The July 6 editorial page included a very interesting political cartoon by KAL that perfectly illustrates the double standard that the liberals in this country practice on a daily basis. In the cartoon, irate rioters in support of the flag burning amendment, school prayer amendment and the balanced budget amendment assail the Constitution.
Obviously, the artist who drew the cartoon believes that these amendments assault the freedoms guaranteed to him in the Constitution. I would like to ask where is the cartoon that points out the assaults on the Second, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth and 10th amendments that have been going on for years?
Why is it that the left wants to preserve the freedoms that they enjoy (flag burning, spending us into debt for socially destructive welfare and outlawing voluntary prayer in the public schools), while depriving me of freedoms I hold very dear (being able to defend my home and family, being safe from the excesses of Waco/Ruby Ridge-style law enforcement and living in a sovereign state)?
A wise man once said the Constitution is a meal in which you have to eat everything, not a smorgasbord that you can pick and choose from.
If the left wants their freedoms unregulated, then they need to stop applying their double standard by trying to rob me of mine.
Residents Don't Miss the 'Good Old Days'
Letter writer Linda M. Hess of Sykesville apparently knows little about Belair-Edison ("Reality, not Racism, in Belair-Edison," July 8). The residents of Belair-Edison enjoy the quality of life of our integrated neighborhood.
We still ride bikes, watch ball games and walk through Herring Run Park. We play golf on the public golf course. We shop in the Belair-Edison Marketplace and send our children to local public and parochial schools.
As a matter of fact, we have no desire to return to Ms. Hess' "good old days," when segregation was rampant.
We have chosen to stay in the neighborhood and make it our home because we appreciate its many amenities and feel that we have a large degree of control over our environment. We have no desire to run.
We have the oldest active community association in Baltimore -- over 500 members and a monthly newsletter. We have a housing service that has assisted over 300 families in purchasing homes in the community.
Belair-Edison has a homeownership rate over 75 percent, one of the highest in the city. A full-time organizer is working to establish block captains on every block, because we understand that communication among neighbors is the key to a safe, stable and attractive community.
The commercial district of Belair-Edison is on the upswing as well. The vacancy rate in the business district is the lowest it has been in many years, due in no small part to the efforts of our full-time business development coordinator. A major drugstore is expanding here, and new businesses thrive.
Local merchants meet monthly to discuss matters such as marketing and business expansion. The Belair-Edison Marketplace is anticipating $100,000 worth of physical improvements from the City of Baltimore.
In case Ms. Hess is not aware, it is the proliferation of the mega-malls that has caused small business areas to struggle, not integration of communities.
Ms. Hess states, "Race becomes the issue when one group of people witnesses the decline of its neighborhood, when a certain race comes into a neighborhood and within a few months stores are boarded up and merchants start leaving."
Besides the questionable factual accuracy of this statement, it is a blatantly racist one. Most of us were taught that to stereotype or attribute general characteristics to a race of people is not only wrong, but inaccurate.
Major portions of Belair-Edison have integrated quietly and harmoniously. No community in America is problem-free. The residents of Belair-Edison are not afraid to confront problems head-on.
However, if one sees race as the problem, then the only solution is to run, because we live in an increasingly diverse society.
As for run-down properties in the neighborhood, they are few and far between. The residents here have very high standards and will not tolerate even the slightest variation from them. A walk or drive through the community will reveal immaculately kept homes and lovely gardens.
Neighborhood churches open their doors to youth for after-school programs, summer day camp and teen drop-ins. A partnership between Augustana Lutheran Church, Brehms Lane Elementary School and Signet Bank has resulted in a summer basketball program.
City life is rich and stimulating. We urge Ms. Hess not to pity us, for it is she who is unfortunate.
The writers are, respectively, president of the Belair-Edison Community Association and executive director of the Belair-Edison Housing Service.