Port of Baltimore needs cruise terminal
In the past few weeks the Maryland Port Administration has unveiled its "strategic" plan for the Port of Baltimore. While I agree with Tay Yoshitani, the executive director of MPA, on cargo plans, nowhere does he address the lack of port facilities for cruise liners.
Recently, my wife and I flew to Miami to take a cruise from the cruise line facilities and observed the great port accommodations and professional manner of their port people.
Yes, I know we have the Dundalk Marine Terminal in Baltimore, but why are we not enticing more cruise lines to utilize our port?
Carl C. Dederer Jr.
The search for men for the priesthood
It is hardly surprising for a lifelong Catholic to read the letter by Rev. James Barker (Aug. 4) in reaction to the July 28 article by Ginger Thompson on the "shortage of priests."
It is clear to me that Father Barker's letter reflects the predictable, defensive attitude which pervades the clerical leadership of the Catholic Church and continues to have such a detrimental effect on the church's credibility and on its capacity to respond to the needs of God's people.
I would describe Father Barker's letter as a classical avoidance of the real issue; i.e., the impact of the church's requirement of clerical celibacy for its priests.
His avoidance is manifested in what might be classified as non-issues; e.g., the fact that Ms. Thompson attended this year's ordination but did not report on it; the fact that the reporter attended a private retreat and spoke with seminarians but did not include that experience in her story; and the notion of the higher "standards that candidates for the priesthood must meet."
It would seem that Father Barker focuses on such standards in light of recent tragic revelations about clerical misconduct rather than in connection with the lack of candidates.
In trying to down-play the current shortage in Baltimore (only four men ordained this year and one ordination anticipated for next year), Father Barker exercises the well-worn numbers game of the future. He asserts that seven men "are scheduled" for ordination in 1998, and in 1999, nine "are in line."
He makes no mention, of course, of the possibility that some of these men may withdraw from their preparations or that others might be removed by those "high standards" which will ensure that future priests have "the right stuff."
Father Barker's Olympic analogy of "raising the bar" reminded me of a more hopeful analogy often associated with the Second Vatican Council, namely "raising the window" to let in the spirit of a new Pentecost which will bring forth the candidates identified so openly and candidly by Father Wayne Funk in the July 28 article by Ms. Thompson.
The rich get richer under Dole's tax plan
The latest study on distribution of wealth in the U.S. shows that the gap between the rich and the poor is growing larger.
Now presidential candidate Bob Dole wants to make a bad situation worse by recommending a huge tax cut which favors primarily the wealthy.
Repealing the 1993 tax increase, which he claims was the largest in U.S. history, would make the rich even richer.
Almost all of the 1993 tax increase was imposed on the high-income population, with little or no increase on low- and middle-income taxpayers.
In fact, the income tax credit for the poor was increased.
Mr. Dole's other proposal is a 15 percent across-the-board decrease in taxes.
Obviously, the major beneficiaries of such a tax cut would be the wealthy.
There would be insignificant savings for middle-income families and no benefit at all for the poor, whose income is so low that they pay no income tax. . . .
City finds funds to toot own horn
I don't quite understand the need for the Baltimore City government to publish its own monthly newspaper for distribution to every household.
Baltimore already has a daily paper, several weekly newspapers and several monthly magazines.
And pray tell, where in our cash-strapped city budget does our mayor find money to produce such a needless publication?
I'd rather he lowered my taxes.
Welfare reform is pure politics
The mean-spirited, misnamed welfare reform bill represents a low point in the history of this great nation. As Democratic Congressman John Lewis of Georgia noted as the welfare bill was being considered, "Where is the sense of decency? What does it profit a great nation to conquer the world only to lose its soul?"
Both political parties have abandoned the poor, voiceless children of this country for political advantage. They mock, as well as undermine, their own argument for family values and the special place children hold in our society.
While we haven't gotten the legislation right, we should at least get the facts right. The facts respecting welfare "as we know it" are quite different from the myths that have fed the debate and the resulting legislation.
Approximately five million families are currently on welfare. Sixty-seven percent are children, 39 percent are white and 37 percent are black. Of all children receiving benefits, 64 percent are preschoolers. The average size of an Aid to Families with Dependent Children family has declined from 4 people in 1969 to 2.9 in 1993. The number of families with three or more children has declined from 50 percent to 25 percent.
Only 7.6 percent of current recipients are below 20 years of age and 1.2 percent below age 18. Divorce or separation accounted for 30 percent of mothers going on to welfare last year. Twenty-three percent of welfare mothers are in school or training programs or full-time employment. Thirty-four percent of recipients have been continuously on AFDC for 12 months or less, 53 percent 24 months or less, and only 13.7 percent over five years.
The national average monthly family benefit is $373. In Maryland, it is $329. The national average monthly benefit in 1970 (in 1993 dollars) was $676. Last year the highest maximum benefit in the 48 contiguous states was $703 (in New York) and the lowest maximum was $120 (in Mississippi). Total federal spending for AFDC benefits is approximately $15 billion, about 1.5 percent of the federal budget. These data came from 1994 "Green Book', a compilation of reports by the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.
The true welfare picture that emerges is that of a shrinking family size and relatively few teen-age mothers. Most recipients are children, most of them preschoolers, with divorce and separation accounting for almost a third of all new enrollees. More than half of recipients are continuously enrolled in AFDC for two years or less. One-quarter of all recipients are currently in a training program or school. Welfare payments have been shrinking over the past decades and sharp disparities in benefits exist between states.
Election-year rhetoric fed by frustration and misinformation have resulted in a mean-spirited bill.
An informed debate would serve to identify strengths and weaknesses in the current system and guide real reform.
David M. Paige
Pub Date: 8/12/96