The poor need jobs, not dependencyDaniel Berger's...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The poor need jobs, not dependency

Daniel Berger's sarcasm-tinged column on the collaboration of Congress and President Clinton to change the structure of government assistance (Aug. 3) was written on the premise that the best way to help the poor is to keep them that way.

Instead of encouraging people to pursue upward mobility and delay having children until they have the stability to take care of them, Berger prefers the current system of fostering dependence through inculcating citizens into thinking they have the right to government cheese.

The poor don't need charity from liberals or anyone else. They need jobs and a sense of hope, the only ways to instill in them self-esteem and dignity.

Most advocates of the current system don't seem to understand this, accepting religiously the socialist creed of lowest common denominator.

Berger also believes that ending welfare will "send more children into crime." How much misery does he need to see before he will show true compassion for these people and admit the programs he dogmatically worships have created the problems in the first place?

Not everyone who feels there exists no entitlement to government largess is indifferent to the plight of the poor.

Many of us think their best chance is through employment and self-reliance.

I find Berger's concern for their plight as phony as the pro-lifer's for the welfare of children.

Lorne Marshall

Baltimore

The justice system makes no sense

Every day The Sun prints ample evidence that many things are seriously wrong with our criminal justice system. On July 31 there were several examples.

There was the letter by Mary Louise Glorioso pointing out that when her daughter was caught smoking a cigarette she was formally charged with breaking the law. The logical thing would have been to call the parent and let her handle it. . . .

Then [there was a story about] the Court of Appeals overturning the conviction of Scotland E. Williams.

Why is it that the high court so often feels the need to demonstrate how much more learned it is than the lower court? Maybe we should arrange it so that after two overturnings a judge would be dismissed.

There was also a story about a report criticizing the priorities of the juvenile justice system. [Secretary of the state Department of Juvenile Justice] Stuart O. Simms says they don't have enough money. Of course they don't; they spend it arresting kids for smoking and retrying murderers.

Too often the "letter of the law" seems to favor the criminal over the law-abiding citizen, and too often what the judicial system does is not sensible.

Stephen H. Barlett

Chestertown

'Slots for Tots' hides dishonesty

As Maryland voters recollect, the lottery was supposed to help our schoolchildren and senior citizens. "Slots for Tots" is the 1990s version of just such a ploy du jour.

My grandmother played the horses every day they ran and bingo twice a week. In all her modest wins and losses, she never pretended she did it for us kids. She just loved to play.

Last summer, in a campaign appearance before the BUILD organization, the mayor and I both pledged to oppose casino gambling.

Slots, at that point, were merely the inevitable antidote should casinos come to Maryland and squeeze the profit out of Pimlico and other local tracks.

Slots are not about children. They're just about pols who love to play -- and are in serious need of grandmothers to keep them honest.

ary Pat Clarke

Baltimore

The writer, a former City Council president, was a candidate for ++ mayor in 1995.

The good and bad of Olympic coverage

It was refreshing to witness the women's victories in swimming, track and field and other Olympic events this year.

The NBC coverage focusing on U.S. contestants rather than many of the fine international athletes was a large disappointment, though.

David Kaliner

Baltimore

Many viewpoints in Beverly Hills

The Harford Road Partnership appreciates The Sun's coverage of our efforts to redevelop this commercial corridor for the benefit of surrounding neighborhoods and the city as a whole.

We are at the beginning of a long planning process that will

demand the involvement of our entire community, residents and businesses alike. For this effort to be successful, we need to build trust and a spirit of cooperation among the neighborhoods HARP was established to serve.

Hence, we are concerned that the July 25 article left a negative impression of Beverly Hills, the neighborhood most immediately affected by the development of a new grocery store.

Beverly Hills is a diverse community in many ways and there are many opinions about the proposed Safeway store. Residents' concerns about traffic, noise, parking and store hours are legitimate.

These issues must and will be addressed through a cooperative process involving residents of Beverly Hills and other neighborhoods, city planners, HARP and Safeway.

While some Beverly Hills residents have been unconditionally opposed to the current Safeway plan, other critics have made a number of constructive recommendations that we are working to build into the final design of the site.

Tom Chalkley

Baltimore

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The writer is president of the Harford Road Partnership.

Brokers mislead small investors

Your editorial cartoon of July 29 spoke volumes.

My parents, retired and on a fixed income, suffered from self-serving misinformation given out by a broker at a major investment firm who misled them and caused them considerable loss of peace of mind.

Recent news stories revealed the Justice Department is investigating alleged price fixing and one article included the fact that the National Association of Securities Dealers has known of certain anti-competitive practices for six years.

The firms involved, including the one with which my parents dealt, did not deny wrongdoing, unusual for the securities industry which seems to deny every accusation.

Why has the Justice Department merely slapped those firms on the wrist?

Heather Krebs

Towson

Gymnastic 'heroics' depends on your view

I was appalled by Carl Rowan's misguided column (July 29, "How is it 'abuse' to train a heroine?") regarding Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug's "heroic" performance. Had Ms. Strug saved someone's life, she would have been a heroine. But to risk permanent injury for a piece of gold is ridiculous.

There are many more losers in sports competitions than winners, as evidenced by the sad and disappointed faces that the media cameras try so hard to avoid. While investigators look for clues to the Olympic bombing, announcers gleefully proclaim that the American "Dream Team" has "crushed" Croatia. Olympic athletes are in Atlanta for one purpose only -- to beat other athletes and feed their own egos. Such a sad dream to pursue.

No, one cannot compare virtuoso musicians to Olympic athletes. Rarely do musicians stand on a pedestal and proclaim to the world that they have defeated the rest of the orchestra.

Dianne Bates

Baltimore

I do not often agree with Carl T. Rowan and have even written letters to the editor expressing my opposing viewpoints. However, I must commend Mr. Rowan on his July 29 column, "How is it 'abuse' to train a heroine?"

I grew up in a family where the children swam competitively from the time we were each 6 years old. We progressed from summer-league swimming to Amateur Athletic Union age-group competitions and eventually swam in national and collegiate events. One sister and I were awarded college scholarships.

Watching the centennial Olympics brought back memories of the hundreds of hours we spent training in the pool. It also reminded me of the huge sacrifices my parents endured so that we could compete. These sacrifices included not only money, which could have otherwise been spent on nicer cars, family vacations, or maybe even to pay other bills, but time and emotional support through tough meets and injuries. They were always there, even at 5 a.m. for early practices.

Kerri Strug, about whom the column was written, is a genuine heroine, deserving not only the gold medal she won, but also our pride, admiration and well wishes. She is a true champion. She put the good of her team ahead of her own desire for an individual gold medal. In doing so, she gave U.S. women's gymnastics its first Olympic gold medal in a team competition.

I know how hard Kerri worked to gain a berth on that team. I know how hard her parents worked and sacrificed to give Kerri the opportunity to achieve in her sport. I also know that there were times in her gymnastic career when her coaches pushed, yelled and screamed that she was not giving 100 percent. This is not abuse. She was being taught the importance of always doing your best, even when the emotional and physical pain of doing one more vault was horrific.

My sisters and I remember these same admonitions from our coaches over the years. I remember crying that my coach hated me for making me swim those extra laps when I was exhausted. Would I change any of it, as I look back as an adult? The answer is a resounding "no" The thrill of achieving a sought-after goal made it all worthwhile. From seeing Kerri Strug, I know she would give the same answer.

Athletes at this level know the emotional drain of competing and know the physical stress on their young bodies. But the desire to compete and to do your best is an admirable goal. It is something we should teach to more of our youngsters.

Kerri chose to compete in gymnastics and learned over the years how to compete against the odds and to give everything each time she entered a competition.

My hat is off to Kerri Strug, her teammates and to all of our Olympic athletes. These are the role models I hope my own daughters try to emulate.

Richard B. Pazornik

Pikesville

Why I'm trying to stay in Baltimore

Lalita Noronha-Blob's poignant Opinion Commentary article, "Why I must leave Baltimore," July 23, moved me to offer this alternative opinion:

The kale is in full swing in the garden, as are the gladioli and the green beans. I'm spending a few moments this evening savoring the rose bush and picking that kale for my dinner.

From across the alley comes a volley of cuss-words and screaming. Mr. X is once again "on a drunk." Tonight it's something about the cellar door being left open.

I stand for a moment to see his three grandchildren and their friend run out into the alley and onto the adjoining parking lot to play -- if it can be called playing, throwing stones at the streetlight and breaking glass bottles on the macadam.

I deposit the trash, pull a few weeds and head into the kitchen to cook. I hear from afar: "It's Miss Lori! C'mon, y'all!"

I wash the kale leaves, watching the water bead over the grayish green, and wait. Soon there's a boy on my back porch, just sitting in the big chair. I call out to S, who's 11-ish, "I'm cooking, but you're welcome to come in." We discuss the photos on my fridge.

S asks me, "Guess who took my bike? I mean after my father threw it out in the trash, they took my bike frame just like that."

"Why'd your father throw away the frame?" I ask, inwardly agonizing. We'd worked hard to get that bike -- the one small joy of S's life -- on the road.

"Just because one of the wheels was messed up, he said it was no good, and he threw it out." We are silent for awhile, then the talk turns to potatoes and which words are cuss-words and which words are not. The neighbor's dog comes bounding into the yard, and soon S is off into the world of the alley again.

The stories come more than once a day, with 10 or 20 more boys and girls who live here in lower Charles Village. These are children who ride pieced-together bicycles with no seats and no brakes and flat tires, spending hours of their summer vacation scrounging alleys for parts and trying to craft together anything that will go.

These are children who are not provided with bikes, who will most likely never see the ocean, who often don't get enough to eat in the summer. Nobody will buy a car for them when they are of age. These stories are multiplied by the thousands in the city. These are the kids who will in a few years be breaking into Jeeps for angry joy rides.

From where I sit, overlooking the parking lot at 24th Street and Calvert Street, eating my fresh kale with garlic and lemon, there is simply nowhere to go, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. The violence is everywhere.

But it's not those children, not their parents, not the grown ones vandalizing our Jeeps. The worst violence, woven into the very fabric of our culture, is the blatant disregard for the lives of these people, the unfathomable imbalance of resources among us.

Some small percentage have much more than they could ever make real use of, hoarding clothes and shoes and food and cars and vacations and bicycles. There is nowhere in this country to escape from that. The legacy of this violence will find us, will ferret us and our descendants out, no matter where we run to.

Unless we face this, there is nothing to "keep the Jeep from being ruined" again, or much, much worse.

I wrestle daily with wanting to go. Like Ms. Noronha-Blob, I have been assaulted, have had property damaged, live in fear, love my house and garden, have been here many years, wish for "entitlement" to safety and rest.

I could go if I chose to, unlike the kids and their families here. I so far choose not to.

The violence of poverty is not going to disappear on its own. The government is not going to fix it.

It's clear to me that the more of us who stay, who take responsibility for the legacy of our culture, who attempt to share our resources evenly, and who see through the illusion of separation, the more we will affect the real cause of the violence. What are we waiting for, indeed? We must stay and do the necessary work, "before it is too late."

Lori J. Shollenberger

Baltimore

Pub Date: 8/10/96

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