Where is U.S. corporate responsibility?
I read with knowing dismay the articles in the Jan. 21 paper on Bausch & Lomb, Inc. leaving Maryland. This hits very close to home as I tell you our family's circumstances. My family relocated from Connecticut 18 months ago after my husband's company announced it was closing the manufacturing facility of a German pharmaceutical company. Operations were going back overseas. I was also working at a terrific job in a corporate environment for 12 years at a major bakery company. We debated long and hard about leaving our home of 10 years as well as giving up my career at a great company. We decided to make the move.
My husband's resume was updated and copies were sent to various headquarters up and down the East Coast.
Maryland offered him a good opportunity in the phamaceutical area so we decided to relocate. The company moved us to the area, paying most of our moving expenses. Because of their declining sales and other poor strategic decisions, the company laid off most of the engineering department, my husband included. So here we are both unemployed in a state with declining job opportunities.
I have been listening to the presidential candidates, talking about responsibility. This includes individual responsibility -- family, political and, I would add, corporate.
Why should the idea of responsibility not flow into the workplace? What is the company's responsibility to its work force, the people who make the company profitable? I think it is about time that corporate America assume some responsibility for its employees and instill things such as confidence, security and stability to its extended family.
People at the age of 40 are not interested in retirement benefits from their company closure. People at 40 are interested in a good-paying job to secure their family's future and the future of their children. My husband and I, both disheartened and angry at corporate America, are planning to open our own business. Be assured we will not treat our employees as big business has treated us.
Educators should freeze salaries
The decision to cut or include educational programs in the budget rests solely with the administrators in the Department of Education, not with the county commissioners. The school board has the power to override such decisions but the overwhelming track record of this school board and all preceding boards has been to rubber-stamp administrative decisions. (We deserve what we elect.)
Despite very generous infusions of tens of millions of tax dollars by the county commissioners into the DOE budget -- to the neglect of all other county needs and its employees -- it has been the choice of DOE administrators to put more than 80 percent of all education money into wage, salaries and benefits instead of classroom needs, a practice which gravely belies their motto, "We are here for the children."
It was outrageous to observe parents, teachers and students at the DOE budget hearing, often on the verge of tears, begging the DOE administrators to withdraw threats of program cuts. The public placed its trust in these very well-paid administrators and this trust has been violated. If all wages, salaries and benefits were frozen at this year's level, there would be no budget shortfall or need for any instructional programs to be reduced or eliminated. These salary and benefit increases were negotiated in defiance of warnings two years ago that future budget constraints would be necessary.
It was callous to negotiate these increases, knowing that they could not be honored, in order to use DOE employees as pawns in these annual budget tugs of war. This cannot continue and the public is tired of being manipulated.
The writers are candidates for the Carroll County Board of Education.
Break-up of local phone monopoly
A recent article in The Sun reported that the "monopoly" in local phone service is about to be broken up in Maryland. This got me thinking about what I, as a Bell Atlantic customer and employee, stood to gain by the move.
Well, first, you can bet that the new competitors are not interested in providing me with service out here in Carroll. They will be busy trying to skim the cream of the large business customers in the metropolitan areas.
And who can blame them? The ruling places no requirement that they provide universal service such as Bell Atlantic must. Even if they did want my business, that would probably mean another barrage of phone calls during dinner to tell me what a great deal they're offering. Meanwhile, I'll be thinking about how many more Bell Atlantic jobs will be lost due to the growing threat, and wondering if my job will be included in that list.
But the real point was driven home one recent Tuesday when for no apparent reason the cable in my area went out. What was the first thing I did? I picked up the phone to call the cable company and guess what? The phone was working. However, the cable offices had closed because of the inclement weather.
This made me realize two things. First, the cable companies were among those who pushed hard to get into the local exchange market. Considering how often my cable goes out and their obvious disregard for their customers, I don't think I'm interested in anything they have to offer. Second, it seems that no matter what the emergency or problem, the phone always works. When the cable doesn't work, I call to complain. When the electricity goes out, I call to find out when it will be fixed. Will another telephone provider be able to give me this level of service? How much is that kind of reliability worth to a business that is dependent on its phone service?
Please keep these points in mind when you are faced with the question of changing the provider of your local phone service. Remember, you get what you pay for.
On schools, how big is too big?
In all of the talk about the 750-pupil school in Carroll County, no one has stepped forward to say it will be good for students.
What is worrisome is the comparison of the 65 mph speed limit and the 750-pupil school. If the 600-pupil school is now containing 750, then on a ratio basis the new schools designed for 750 will work their way up to 940 students. Could it go to 1,000? Who will protect the children who will feel the chill of this impersonal, warehouse type of operation?
A. Ray Drolsum
Spending: It's irksome, but not unconstitutional
In her letter to the editor of Jan. 14 in The Sun for Carroll, Ruth Shriver asserts that "the bulk of current spending [by the federal government] is not authorized by the U.S. Constitution." She cites Walter Williams, an economist at George Mason University, to the effect that "the Constitution gives [no] authority" for Medicare, crop subsidies, corporate handouts and welfare.
At least in part, the assertion is incorrect. There is a long and consistent history of litigation relating to and affirming the constitutionality of the Social Security Act of 1935 and its amendments. These cover Medicare and welfare. The basis for such federal legislation lies in two provisions of the Constitution: the Preamble and Article I, Section 8.
The Preamble expressly provides, in pertinent part, that, "the People of the United States, in Order to promote the general Welfare, do ordain and establish this Constitution." Joseph Story, a justice of the Supreme Court and author of a famed three-volume commentary on the Constitution, wrote that the purpose of the Preamble "is to expound the nature and extent and application of the powers actually conferred by the Constitution."
Section 8 of Article I provides, also in pertinent part, that the "Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes to provide for the general Welfare of the United States." In two 1937 cases decided by the Supreme Court (Steward Machine Co. v. Davis and Helvering v. Davis), a very conservative majority sustained federal imposition of unemployment insurance taxes on employers (Steward) and upheld taxes on employers earmarked for Social Security, which have since been extended to Medicare, under the "general welfare" clause (Helvering). They expressly stated that the 10th Amendment was inapplicable in the Helvering case.
Ms. Shriver is right in saying that the people must exert influence on Congress to force it to "reduce the size and scope of government." She errs in seeming to assume that the people really want that. Perhaps they do in the area of "corporate handouts" and/or crop subsidies, but they haven't done much to achieve even those limited goals. The 1994 election of a conservative majority in Congress has not come close to achieving such results.
I believe that greed has been the basic force driving the electorate for generations. The American public has wanted innumerable services furnished by government, and the Congress has been all too willing to provide them. That would be fine, but neither the Congress nor the electorate has been willing to pay for these services. Now that the time for payment is here, everyone seems to be saying that we should pay, not by raising the taxes needed to finance what we want from government, but by cutting the other guy's pet programs.
Until that attitude changes, the budget crisis will persist.
David C. Greenwald