Tobacco moneyI read in the Aug. 21...


Tobacco money

I read in the Aug. 21 edition of The Evening Sun about Mercy Hospital's accepting a $300 donation from a tobacco company and the anger it stirred in a group of physicians who work there.

Are we to believe that Mercy Hospital, having accepted this money, will not be a pawn of the tobacco lobby? Will good medicine no longer be practiced at Mercy? Will it become the place to go for smokers who want a second opinion on whether or not to quit? I think not.

It is clear from the letter of protest that at least 24 of the physicians at Mercy still believe that smoking is detrimental to health, and I'd be willing to wager that the other health care professionals there think so as well. One cannot graduate from medical school and ever believe for an instant that smoking isn't the single greatest risk to human health.

In fact, it has been my experience in medical school that if you can't remember the predisposing factors for a certain disease, smoking is a good guess. It would take something more mind-altering than a donation to get the physicians at Mercy to become pro-tobacco.

Since medical opinion at Mercy hasn't been purchased by this donation, the only other concern is that the gift will make tobacco companies appear altruistic. Now, who in this country do these enraged physicians think is that gullible?

So, why shouldn't Mercy Hospital accept the money? The gain for the tobacco company is minimal, and the integrity of medical care is not threatened. However, every dollar donated by a tobacco company to a hospital is one less dollar with which to grow tobacco, one less dollar with which to manufacture cigarettes, one less dollar with which to seduce children into a lifetime of smoking and one more dollar to combat smoking-related illnesses.

James H. Bernheimer



In regards to your editorial ("4th District candidates," Aug. 31), I must confess to great disappointment.

While citing "energy, intelligence and commitment" as criteria for your endorsements, your editorial staff failed to mention a candidate who has proven his dedication to this city's problems over five decades of activism.

A. Robert Kaufman's commitment to this city is underscored by his legacy of creative solutions to intolerable situations.

In the early 1950s, well before the term "civil rights" came into the consciousness of white America, Mr. Kaufman was organizing protests against segregation and racial inequity; his efforts greatly speeded the integration of many businesses and schools.

From his early roots in the civil rights movement to his most recent campaign to provide a people's alternative to the insurance companies strangling this city, Mr. Kaufman has repeatedly proven his ability to understand and address the concerns of Baltimoreans.

If a history of activism and results were the criteria The Evening Sun used to determine endorsements, I do not see how the editors could fail to at least mention A. Robert Kaufman's candidacy.

This candidate's commitment to his fellow citizen -- and his perseverance to accomplish his aims -- are almost legendary in this city.

If Mr. Kaufman's proposals are bold, that is because the problems of our times demand unique solutions; no other candidate has articulated so clear a vision for the city's future.

And if his proven ability to work with city leaders such as Mary Pat Clarke and Carl Stokes are considered, it could be argued that no other candidate is quite so prepared for the responsibility of councilmanic office.

M. G. Seldin



I had a young son who once was asked what he would say if confronted by a real live, magic Geni, offering grants to wishes, and he said:

"I would wish that:

"There would be no more wars, or other killing, or hurting of people anywhere, anytime, for any reason.

"The air would be clean and pure, the water fresh and clear, the sunshine bright and warm, always.

"And those who hunger would have food, or who have not clothing, jobs or money, homes or school would have them.

"And there would be no sickness or disease, only health and happiness, for everyone, everywhere, forever.

"And God would smile on all of us, and we'd smile back and thank him."

This is all the child could think to ask for.

Wilson Horst


Women work better with some credit

I was thrilled to see The Evening Sun's editorial, "Credit the poor" (Aug. 16). As you note, micro-loans have been phenomenally successful around the world at moving people from poverty to self-sufficiency.

Muhammad Yunus, founder and president of the Grameen Bank, believes credit should be a human right.

In his keynote address, "Does the Capitalist System Have to be the Handmaiden of the Rich?," at the 85th Rotary International Convention in Taipei, Taiwan, in June 1994, Dr. Yunus stated that "charities and handouts help maintain and deepen poverty . . . Handouts take away initiative from people. Human beings thrive on challenges . . ."

These are powerful statements. They seem to go against our grain as Americans. We have a long history of caring for those in need. However, we could learn much from his words.

Recently, Robin Garr, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist, completed a national study tour of programs which help foster self-reliance. He documents the programs and lessons learned in his book, "Reinvesting in America."

Garr concurs with Dr. Yunus in believing handouts are not the answer to poverty, as our welfare system has proved. Additionally, reforming welfare is not the panacea for poverty. Creating development and economic opportunities in poor communities is.

Baltimore has a unique opportunity as one of six national Empowerment Zones to create these opportunities and revitalize poor neighborhoods.

Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore Inc. (WEB) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help economically-disadvantaged women move from poverty to self-sufficiency through entrepreneurship.

WEB's comprehensive program of training, mentoring, financing development, community networking, facilitated resource-sharing and professional business consultations has proven to be an effective means of helping women help themselves.

WEB, in partnership with the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA), is the first in the City of Baltimore to implement a peer-lending program to entrepreneurs who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and dedi

cation to starting and operating one's own business.

Peer lending is a powerful method of providing credit to the poor. It builds assets, strengthens community ties, builds self-esteem and enables the poor to eventually become self-sufficient.

WEB applauds The Evening Sun for bringing to light the importance of providing credit to the poor so they can significantly improve the quality of their lives. Increasing family income, increasing nutrition levels, building decent houses and decreasing birth rates are but a few of the benefits of access to credit.

Baltimore currently has the resources to create positive change in our community. By working together existing community groups, nonprofit organizations, religious communities, lending institutions, academic institutions and government can realize our goal of a thriving city and an increased quality of life for all Baltimoreans.

Amanda M. Crook


The writer is chief executive officer of Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore (WEB).

Rogue cops

The Mark Fuhrman tapes are proof positive, as if any proof was really needed, that this is not a color-blind society as some people would like you to believe.

Not all white policemen are racist and hateful of blacks and Hispanics. In fact, the majority are good officers who have to do a very difficult and dangerous job every day yet manage to stay alive.

But that still doesn't change the scary fact that there are other Mark Fuhrmans out there, who would like to see some of the very people that they are supposed to protect and serve in a hospital or dead.

Murphy Edward Smith


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