Alaska's oil could free U.S. from Mideast
With Iraq back in the news we are told that the underlying issue is oil. The U.S. imports over 50 percent of its needs from the Middle East and thus this area is important to our future.
I find it curious that no one ever mentions our environmental policies when this dilemma is discussed. In Alaska alone, we have ample oil supplies to fill our needs well into the future, yet this is never mentioned.
The environmental bias here is total. It is just not politically correct to mention this fact, although the people who actually live in Alaska are all for some development.
Japan has no choice, but we do. Shouldn't this aspect of the problem at least be included in the dialogue, especially since we have, and probably will continue to, put our young service people in harm's way for this policy.
Additionally, the impetus for terrorism seems also to be rooted in this desire to use the other guy's resources while making Alaska safe for tourists.
Robert G. Duke
Not enough jobs for everyone
I write in support of the Sept. 6 letter from James D. Emberger,"Population pressures and food output." There is no way that industry or government can provide enough jobs for a large population. A large population equals a large welfare system.
Charles F. Williams
Sarbanes correctly fought welfare reform
The president has signed the new welfare reform bill into law. The Maryland Food Committee believes the bill is punitive and eliminates, rather than reforms, welfare as we know it. Although many members of Congress supported the bill, one very enlightened senator saw the cracks in the safety net and voted against the bill's punitive efforts.
The Maryland Food Committee wishes to commend Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., for taking the politically unpopular stance against the welfare reform bill on behalf of hungry Marylanders. Mr. Sarbanes tried to truly reform welfare in a positive manner through amendments and legislation. In the end, he took the bold step to vote against the bill's final version.
We recognize Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., worked throughout the process to change the direction of welfare reform but, unfortunately, she voted for the bill.
The writer is program director for the Maryland Food Committee.
Baltimore residents' insurance premiums
State Farm recently announced plans to increase rates for homeowners' insurance. The basis for this was the increased claim experience resulting from the past winter's storms. It falls on the heels of increases announced by Allstate.
When auto insurance rates go up, they are based on claims experience by zip codes and location and Baltimore City gets the greater increases all the time. Since storm damage, winter and summer, was greatest in rural areas especially near water bodies, will dry areas like Baltimore City get greater benefits for home owners?
J. Edward Munnings
Memorial Stadium encourages insanity
This is in response to Sister Patricia Smith's Sept. 10 letter protesting the editorial use of "insane asylum" in reference to Memorial Stadium.
While no one intends derision of the mentally ill, perhaps the writer is relatively new in town and not aware that the stadium's designation as the world's largest outdoor insane asylum was applied in the 1950s and has remained the stadium's nickname ever since.
I suggest that her co-workers at Mercy Hospital treat Sister Patricia to Sunday afternoon visiting hours at the facility on 33rd street, preferably a seat in the closed end. The "insanity" of the fans (root word, fanatic) will show her that even the most sane among us become a bit worked up when it comes to rooting for the home team.
C. L. Norris
Competitive bids for public union services
Neal Peirce's Sept. 2 Opinion Commentary column, "Public-employee unions learn new ways to work," illustrates exactly why state and city governments should get tough -- very tough -- with their service unions.
Peirce delicately notes that the Ohio Civic Service Employees Association was "concerned" by Gov. George Voinovich's privatization rhetoric. "Terrified" would be a more apt term. And this is the key.
Like anyone else, public-sector unions seek to optimize their own and their members' circumstances. Can't blame them for that. What must therefore be done is to make it so disadvantageous to maintain current low levels of productivity -- and high costs to residents -- that the union's self-interest dictates a better return on taxpayer dollars.
The simplest way to do this is to force the competitive "bidding" of municipal services. There is no logical reason why, say, trash collection need be done "in-house" by city government. By putting a contract out to bid, the lowest price would be ensured.
If the union wins the contract, fine; if not, so be it. Either way, the bracing air of real competition will have worked to the advantage of taxpayers.
Take the example of Flint, Mich. In 1993 and 1994, Mayor Woodrow Stanley told public employees that the $6.2 million the city paid for trash collection was too much. The union responded that there was no conceivable way costs could be cut, for any number of reasons everyone had heard before.
So Stanley opened negotiations with five private contractors. It soon became clear that each could provide the service for somewhat over $4 million.
Miraculously, the union suddenly came up with $2 million in savings -- and got to keep its contract. So the taxpayers and the union both got something dear to them: value for one and employment for the other.
This is the sole hope of Baltimore, for only such stern measures will produce the sort of savings necessary to allow the city to maintain approximately its current levels of service while simultaneously lowering taxes. For lowered they must be, if the exodus of the middle class to the suburbs is to cease.
Baltimoreans are not charity workers, duty-bound eternally to endure high taxes, abysmal schools and soaring crime. Like the unions, the middle class seeks to maximize its own advantages. But unlike the unions, the middle class can pull up stakes and leave. Schmoke must put middle-class interests first. The city's viability depends on it.
Douglas P. Munro
The writer is executive officer of the Calvert Institute for Policy Research, a city-based conservative think tank.
Pub Date: 9/17/96