It's absurd not to educate prisoners
I do hope that many read and realize the importance of Michael Naughton's commentary of Feb. 21, "The value of teaching inmates."
There are many things wrong with our prison system that could be helped by decreasing the political restrictions on inmate populations.
We realize the necessity of increasing the intelligence level of all our citizens, and to avoid having this captive population educated is nothing short of absurd.
All of us would agree that education is the key to success and to at least have the basics taught to you while you are in a captive environment seems only intelligent and necessary.
I hope that some reversal of this very unenlightened policy can occur.
John C. Gordon
Lock murderers up and crime goes down
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that violent crimes in Maryland would decrease if each person incarcerated for murder had to serve his full prison sentence without parole.
A murderer should not be allowed to have his sentence reduced because of good behavior or plea bargaining, because he is a "juvenile" or because he is "sorry."
It is a pathetic reflection on our state when someone can commit a murder and get out of jail a few years later, probably to murder again.
Maryland should initiate a fixed jail sentence for first- and second-degree murder and carry out these sentences with no ands, ifs or buts.
We have to get tough if we want to see matters improve in our state.
Disease nothing to joke about
Why do television shows such as "Frasier," "The Simpsons," "Beverly Hills 90210," and now "Friends" think that "flesh eating bacteria" is a humorous topic? If the writers for these shows did some research, they would find that this is not a funny topic, but a serious disease.
It can strike anybody, anytime, without warning. People lose limbs, many have died. Others, like myself, are survivors. Every day I look in the mirror and see the scars. I do not laugh. I thank the doctors who take this disease seriously and saved my life and other lives.
Donald D. Carter
Prize projects were opposed
Much is made of the "overwhelming" opposition to the new stadiums, according to the polls. It seems to me that similar poll results showed the same opposition to the first and second bay bridges, the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, the Key Bridge, Harborplace, Memorial Stadium, Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Thank God we ignored those poll results.
William T. S. Bricker
Protectionism: A recipe for disaster
Back in the days of rising incomes, we used to worry about "keeping up with the Joneses." But today, not even the Joneses are keeping up. Millions of Americans worry that their next pay envelope will include a pink slip and wonder why it is so hard to pay all the bills.
The conviction that Americans are being crushed by giant forces spawned the 1994 protest movement that ended generations of Democratic control of Congress and swept into power a new breed of Republicans. . . Sadly, the presidential primary has side-tracked the fundamental Republican message that the creation of good jobs requires reducing the size and cost of government, allowing families to keep more of what they earn and encouraging savings, investment and entrepreneurial activity.
Many Republicans are rallying around Pat Buchanan because he understands voters' economic anxieties and is eloquent and passionate in giving them voice. There is just one problem: His medicine would make our condition far, far worse.
What Mr. Buchanan calls "economic nationalism" has the federal government identifying key industries, cultivating them with subsidies and protecting them from foreign competition with tariff barriers. Tariffs are a tax meant to increase the price of foreign goods to the consumer.
Mr. Buchanan. . . is now calling for just that. When the Clinton administration proposed 100 percent tariffs on imports of luxury cars from Japan, his only complaint was that the tariffs should be set higher. . . While tariffs allow Washington bureaucrats to claim credit for protecting chosen domestic industries, such policy ensures retaliation by our trading partners. . . A trade war would put many of the 14 million U.S. jobs that rely on exporting at risk.
"Economic nationalism" is really just a hybrid of the "industrial policy" of Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich and the raw protectionism of Democratic Rep. Dick Gephardt. It is a recipe for disaster. . .
To a textile or auto worker worried about job security, the idea of erecting import barriers has undeniable appeal. Such barriers raise the price of foreign goods, protect market share for domestic firms and prop up employment in the firms so favored.
Consumers pay a stiff price for such benefits, however. Not only do imports become more expensive, but domestic firms shielded from competition increase their prices as well. . . Tariffs are just another form of tax and a very regressive one, falling most heavily on lower income families that spend a higher share of their disposable income on consumer goods. No Republican should be running on a platform of tax increases for the poor.
While saving jobs in some industries, trade barriers destroy jobs in others. When we shut the door to imports, we send fewer dollars abroad; these dollars would have been, but are no longer, sent back to us for our exports. . .
Look at what happened the last time America decided to fight a trade war, in 1930 with the Hawley-Smoot tariffs. Unemployment was 8.7 percent, and it was easy to blame foreigners for our problems. But while Hawley-Smoot protected some firms from import competition, it devastated many others. American exports fell 57 percent and unemployment shot up to 25 percent by 1933.
"Economic nationalism" is no more a cure for what ails America's working families in the 1990s than it was in the 1930s. But what is the cure?. . .
Freed of excessive government costs, American workers can compete anywhere, just as they always have. Republicans must prescribe policies of growth and opportunity, not the failed European "industrial policy" which has produced 10 percent unemployment and economic stagnation.
Ellen R. Sauerbrey
Pub Date: 3/05/96