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Forget about air bags, make better bumpersAir...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Forget about air bags, make better bumpers

Air bags are now replacing bumpers. The cleverly engineered and designed front and rear on most new automobiles guarantee they will be instantly damaged or crushed in impacts over 5 miles per hour. The auto industry successfully lobbied for years to obtain this minimal collision standard, but where do automobiles travel at this speed? Attractive plastic or fiberglass covers a small band of metal backed by foam rubber.

America's biggest motorist rip-off creates unsafe and life-threatening risks, more business for the auto industry and auto repair shops, very high insurance premiums plus an additional financial burden for all auto consumers.

It is time for car buyers to wake up and demand safer automobiles that consider you, the consumer, and your primary protection in future designs, so you won't have to depend on air bags to protect you and your children from tragedy.

Frank Bressler

Baltimore

Health care companies duck accountability

The rapid change in the structure of the nation's health care--delivery system is bewildering. Most people are unaware that vast corporations are having profound effects on the most intimate medical decisions.

Even more troubling, the same HMOs and managed care companies that are reshaping the medical landscape, at times making it a minefield of unproven clinical assumptions, irrational policies and destructive intrusions, are seeking the most unethical and hypocritical advantage: They want the power and financial rewards of controlling this massive industry without any accountability.

In fact, they insist that they are protected against any malpractice claims by a federal law (the Employee Retirement Income Security Act) which was passed in 1974, long before the current health care revolution, and was never meant to be used in this fashion.

HMOs, which cut health expenses by controlling the who, what, where, when and how of medical care, want the public to accept that as institutions they bear no responsibility for medical outcomes.

Instead, they maintain that malpractice liability rests with the doctor. This blatantly ignores and avoids the controls, oversights and structures that HMOs create which have a dramatic impact on physician behavior.

Wielding the economic carrot and stick, large health organizations control access to patients and by doing so can force doctors to accept a variety of limitations on care, or drive them out of business.

Only recently have HMOs been challenged for having gag clauses in their contracts with providers which prevent physicians from informing patients about limitations on care imposed by HMOs.

If HMOs do not control how health care is delivered why would they need to silence doctors?

While many reasonable people debate how to control health care costs, no reasonable person can accept that the current architects of our health care system want the economic rewards without acknowledging their critical role in the decisions that determine the health care of millions.

Joseph Sokal, M.D.

Baltimore

Media partnerships promote BSO concerts

Daniel Franko Goldman's letter to the editor in yesterday's Sun suggested that the Baltimore Symphony has become a "corporate sponsor" of programming on Maryland Public Television. I'd like to clarify our relationship with MPT.

The Baltimore Symphony is indeed a non-profit cultural institution which promotes and sells over 200 concerts a year and it does so through a limited advertising budget which we work very hard to enhance through media partnerships. Media partnerships give the Baltimore Symphony the ability to promote events with little or no advertising dollars. One such partnership is with Maryland Public Television.

The promotional spots which Mr. Goldman saw prior to "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer" stated "this program was made possible in part on MPT by the Baltimore Symphony." Although it may have appeared to Mr. Goldman that this language indicates that the BSO is a corporate sponsor of the program, the fact is that all promotional spots on public television must adhere to this format, whether they are free or paid spots. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is not a corporate sponsor.

The BSO is not underwriting the cost of producing any PBS shows, but rather we are using this media partnership with Maryland Public Television as the best way to reach an audience which might attend the Baltimore Symphony. We are grateful for the support of our media partners which include various radio stations, television stations and newspapers and magazines in Baltimore and throughout Maryland. Without their generosity, we would have a difficult time promoting the wide variety of concerts and free events that serve the entire Baltimore metropolitan area.

!Calman J. Zamoiski Jr.

Baltimore

L The writer is president of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Where there's Will there's distortion

I usually read George Will's column. I don't always agree with it but it is invariably rational -- until his Nov. 25 column.

His diatribe about abortion choice and Clinton was such a malicious distortion (and temper tantrum) that I can no longer trust anything he writes.

Thomas J. Cartin

Annapolis

Golfers should be heard on changes

It is an insult to the golfing community that the directors of the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. have elected to implement a newly designed tee system without consulting the public. What ever happened to the democratic process?

The apparent need for additional revenue to maintain the integrity of the golf courses should be found with an increase in greens fees instead of restructuring the game of golf. The United States Golf Association has formulated a handicap system to allow golfers at all levels to effectively compete on the same golf course. It would be a shame to allow a handful of members on the BMGC to change Mount Pleasant and Pine Ridge to an executive course (front tees) or a pro course (back tees) without some input from the majority of public golfers.

Mount Pleasant and Pine Ridge have offered the most reasonable and affordable greens fees in the past, so why not increase greens fees to allow golfers at all levels to choose the difficulty of the course. Instead of spending money on 30 new tees, some of this revenue should be spent on hiring and instructing more rangers to educate the golfing public on the proper pace of play.

JTC The public golfing community has access to a limited number of courses. Its voices should be heard loud and clear before any major changes by a governing board are implemented.

Brad Feild

Reisterstown

Loom weaves web of semantic deceit

According to The Sun (Nov. 19): "Tax cut plan looms."

Dictionary definition: loom -- "to appear to the mind in a magnified and threatening form."

Living in the land of pleasant taxes and having 40 percent of my earnings confiscated by the government, I can't believe that a minuscule 10 percent tax cut over three years qualifies as a threat.

Maryland's governor had not even officially announced a proposed tax cut before The Sun, in its paranoid "what if?" mode, was informing readers why tax cuts are not feasible at this time.

Guess what?

With a Republican Congress, Republican state leaders and me-too Democrats boarding the Republican tax cut bandwagon, tax cuts are inevitable.

Frank A. Sume

Baltimore

Pub Date: 12/04/96

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