Corporate welfare deserves criticism
Mona Charen's Sept. 21 column, "Ending corporate welfare?" was encouraging.
However, she overlooked one of the most egregious examples. She did mention the $5.4 billion in grants and loans to allow foreign countries to buy U.S. arms. But she omitted the $15 billion in arms sales guarantees just passed by Congress.
The guarantees allow countries with credit so bad they can't qualify for one of the four previously existing arms sales programs to buy weapons they cannot afford.
That $15 billion is more than the combined 1994 federal expenditures on Aid to Families with Dependent Children and Women, Infants and Children -- two programs to protect women and children targeted in the budget-balancing crusade of Congress.
This gift to the arms merchants at the expense of everyone else made the point of Mike Lane's Sept. 21 cartoon so much sharper. Congress is determined to protect the military and the arms merchants from any pain in the budget-balancing process.
This is irrational. Previous excesses of the military and associated un-wise arms purchases are the primary reason that the budget is so far out of balance.
Congress is seemingly blind to the fact that the Cold War is over. Or is it that they are blinded by the money that flows from the arms merchants?
From 1989 to 1994, Sam Nunn, Daniel Inouye, Joseph Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein collected a total of $487,000 -- an average of $121,750 each -- from the defense industry.
Tenants, not projects, to blame
Regarding P. Clark's piece "Down with the projects!" (Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 22), I wish to disagree with the assumption that the aesthetics of community design cause atrophy. . .
There are many Baltimore neighborhoods of cozy, free-standing, single-family homes complete with trees and grass that are awfully ramshackled and trashed. Trees and grass are not incentives to neatness.
The problems of public housing are not for want of an aesthetic, but for want of a better class of inhabitants.
Poor and rich in job market
In his Sept. 16 letter concerning the shrinking economic pie, Sean M. Lynch makes the assumption that the rich are deserving, while the poor are at best unlucky. It was unfortunate that Mr. Lynch did not get a more positive response to his job offer.
However, it can be said without engaging in "liberal rhetoric" that people work hard at both ends of the economic spectrum. It has nothing to do with meritocracy when the chief executives of multinational corporations pay themselves millions in salaries and bonuses while laying off thousands of employees to cut costs. The real beneficiaries of government "handouts" are tobacco and oil companies, agribusiness, savings and loans and weapons contractors, not the poor.
It is disturbing that in the current debate over welfare reform -- where education, job training and workfare programs are touted as panaceas -- nothing is said about vanishing private-sector jobs nor about the low wages of available jobs.
It is not "punishing the rich" to point out that while tax incentives for businesses are sometimes desirable, taxes should be based on the ability to pay. Also, simple fairness demands that those who are working long, hard hours at low-status jobs are paid wages that enable them to feed, clothe and house their families without the stigma of going on welfare.
R.E. Lee Lears
Wu's release cost too much
Harry Wu should have served his time in a Chinese jail. He tried to enter their country illegally, he broke their laws and then hid behind his new U.S. citizenship. In my many visits to foreign countries, I subject myself to and obey their laws.
So Henry Kissinger "brokered" Mr. Wu's release. What did he "broker" away? A few hundred thousand U.S. jobs, a few hundred million "Made in China" labels on items in our stores? The only good coming from Mr. Wu's adventure was that Hillary Clinton was going to stay home and that was "brokered" away. Acting on one's beliefs is fine, so long as you are willing to pay the price.
Edward H. Nabb
Not bad to be a goy
In regard to the Aug. 31 letter about the word (or title) "goy," may I emphasize that it is not derogatory. Goy is the Hebrew word for nation. (Goyim is plural and means nations.) For generations, the word goy was used to describe a non-Jew, a synonym to Gentile.
Incidentally, to the Mormons, anyone who is not a Mormon is called a Gentile. In the state of Utah, no Gentile could be elected for any office. The ice was broken in the 1920s when a Gentile was elected governor, and he was a Jew.
Casey Foundation replies
In his Sept. 18 opinion piece, Kalman R. Hettleman offered his assessment of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's efforts to improve outcomes for America's most disadvantaged children and families.
Mr. Hettleman was kind enough to characterize our grant-making strategies as "courageous" and accurately observed that they are "high risk" and aimed at "eliminating fragmentation and irrationality in the delivery of services" to children and families.
What Mr. Hettleman evidently finds disappointing is that these investments have not yet transformed the world or the future of U.S. kids trapped in downward spiraling urban environments. About that, he is, of course, quite right. But this comes as no surprise to the trustees and staff of the Casey Foundation.
We may be idealistic, but we are not naive.
From the beginning of our grant-making in the late 1980s, we have assumed that reversing deeply entrenched patterns of poverty would require a combination of high-risk investment in service-system reforms, community empowerment and economic development -- and it would take many, many years of work.
Mr. Hettleman's analysis includes the disturbing suggestion that the Casey Foundation might make more progress if only it would "pull back from creating unrealistic expectations" about what low-income communities can accomplish in the absence of more federal and state aid.
In our judgment, the alarming condition of the most disadvantaged U.S. children will not change until their neighborhoods and communities are revitalized. Unless Mr. Hettleman knows something we don't, there is very little reason to expect that such revitalization will be the result of imminent increases in state and federal aid. . .
Douglas W. Nelson
The writer is executive director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.