America's fading middle classThe financial stability of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

America's fading middle class

The financial stability of this country will be in serious jeopardy because of actions taken in recent years by business and industry. Hardly a day goes by that we do not read about thousands of jobs being eliminated. Two years ago, this was done in the name of "restructuring" to be able to compete in the world. Now it is done via mergers.

Many of the organizations doing this are enjoying banner earnings. Looking more closely at the details, the bulk of these jobs are well-paid positions held by the middle class. The work is still there, but the trend toward part-timers who receive few or no benefits effectively makes such jobs less attractive.

The future middle-class base in America that does most of the buying of big-ticket items, takes out most of the mortgages on expensive homes and pays most of the taxes will shrink dramatically in the next decade.

Today's middle-class citizens have the assets to help their children adjust to our declining living standard, which is a result of our joining the world economy on even terms. Tomorrow's middle-class will have fewer assets and will be unable to help anyone but themselves. Today's middle-class citizens travel extensively because they have good pensions in addition to Social Security. Tomorrow's middle-class citizens will have little or no savings needed to engage in travel. Today's middle-class citizens own their own homes and have made provisions for late-life disability. Tomorrow's middle-class citizens will either rent or have a mortgage stretching out over their entire life spans.

We can't all be doctors or professionals, but we should have a reasonable chance at a good job with a future. Where did all the good jobs go? They died in the 1990s. Who killed them? Our own government, which was more interested in helping Third World countries improve their economies at the expense of our own.

Russell M. Hackney

Baltimore

Orthodox is absolute in Jewish terminology

I must again protest the use of the term "ultra-orthodox" when referring to religious Jews, as it appeared on the front page of The Sun, Oct. 12, in the picture caption.

"Orthodox" implies fidelity to rules or beliefs. Orthodox Jews are those who keep the faith according to tradition and the Code of Jewish Law.

One can not be "ultra-orthodox." It is like being "ultra-pregnant": either you are, or you ain't.

Joseph Cotton

Baltimore

How Congress wastes money

Mona Charen's Sept. 21 column, "Ending corporate welfare?," should be required reading by every member of Congress.

The only programs they have discussed to balance the budget are those that devastate the unfortunate members of our society who happen to be poor or elderly.

It will call to their attention some of the pork-barrel items put into the budget for the sole purpose of buying votes with taxpayers' money to help congressional re-election efforts.

Unfortunately, the author did not list some of the really big ticket items, including:

* Farm subsidies -- intended when enacted to be a means for the small farmers to survive the Great Depression -- are now paid to huge corporations.

* The sale of valuable public land to mining interests for a %J fraction of their value. The government doesn't receive any royalties for the minerals mined.

* Continuing the out-of-date conscription system despite the fact that no one has been drafted for years.

* Budgeting aircraft and other items that Defense Department officials say are not needed, especially when it's done to benefit a particular congressman's district.

In the same vein is the proposed tax reduction for the wealthy, coincidently those who make the largest campaign contributions.

I am certain there are many more.

J. M. Nichols

Towson

Both things could have occurred

Regarding the O. J. Simpson verdict, in his Oct. 4 column ("The Great Divide"), Mike Littwin wrote, "There are only two possible scenarios in this case: 1) A murderer was set free. 2) Racist cops tried to frame an African-American legend." But there is a third scenario: A murderer was set free and racist cops tried to frame an African-American legend.

We do not wish to consider this third scenario because it destroys the simplistic either/or thinking that always infects a polarized population. And nothing in recent memory has polarized black and white Americans as has the outcome of this trial.

We do not wish to consider this third scenario because it suggests that a guilty man may have been acquitted because the crime against him took precedence over the crime he allegedly committed.

And we do not wish to consider this scenario because it muddies already troubled waters by taking away the smug rationalizations of both blacks and whites as to whether the verdict was just or unjust.

Howard Bluth

Baltimore

The link between O.J. and David Koresh

What surprised me about the O.J. Simpson verdict wasn't the reaction of blacks who thought he was innocent but that more whites did not agree.

Although I don't ignore the overwhelming evidence of his guilt, I realized early on that he would be found not guilty.

Why are the same people who complain that David Koresh and Randy Weaver were mistreated by "big government" amazed that a majority black jury would not convict O.J. Simpson of murder?

After all, members of the radical right are just as suspicious of corruption and violence by government employees as are blacks.

The same people who ignore the overwhelming evidence that Koresh murdered and burned his children and followers are surprised that others could be so naive that they believe O.J. Simpson is really a great guy.

The Republican Party recently gave Randy Weaver a national forum to blame the FBI for his own complicity in the death of his wife and son, despite the fact they were killed as a direct result of his own lawlessness and contempt for federal government.

Instead of asking him why he would put his family between himself and the FBI, the GOP helped portray him as a powerless victim.

O.J. Simpson got off because many blacks have the same mistrust of the government that the GOP can only seem to find when the government is led by the other party. He got away with murder for the same reason Randy Weaver got off -- he blamed the government and portrayed himself as a casualty of corrupt law enforcement.

The problem with the knee-jerk tendency of ignorant people to excuse the crimes of those they feel some vague affinity for, be it race or politics, is that the criminal goes free to commit other crimes.

Joe Otterbein

Shrewsbury, Pa.

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