Punishing the poor without helping them
Does anyone see a trend lately in how our elected officials are making public-policy decisions regarding poor families in Maryland?
First, the legislature passes and Gov. Parris Glendening signs legislation requiring welfare recipients to work.
The problem is, the jobs don't exist. To compound this problem, job training has been cut and welfare "reform" completely de-emphasizes education.
Second, the Joint Committee on Welfare Reform proposed to test all welfare applicants for drug use and refer them to treatment. The problem is, the treatment slots don't exist. There are waiting lists for every program.
In both cases, proponents believe that by making these requirements of welfare participants -- overwhelmingly women-headed households -- the jobs and treatment will be created.
These lawmakers do not have the will to create the solutions before making punitive and potentially life-threatening policies. This suggests that their backward decision-making is more political than in the best interest of poor families and our community.
Supporters of the drug testing proposal believe it will help the children. But if the children are in danger, there already exists a system to address it, Child Protective Services.
In a family with a substance abuse problem, if children are being abused or neglected, CPS should intervene regardless of the family's income.
Supporters also say that the new Medicaid managed care system will require substance abuse treatment to be provided. But managed care organizations are not required to provide residential treatment, nor are there minimum quality standards for treatment.
Maryland is in great need of addiction treatment services. There are currently fewer than 15,000 treatment slots in the state, and less than 5 percent are residential services. State spending on treatment has been reduced by 20 percent since 1991, most recently cut $500,000 in July.
The Coalition to Humanely Address Substance Abuse in Maryland (CHASAM) has been in existence for three years trying to convince lawmakers that investing in treatment is cost-effective and helps Marylanders turn their lives around.
Why should we assume that because the state will drug-test welfare applicants, funding for treatment will increase?
Lawmakers must start addressing poverty in terms of real solutions (as Oregon has, according to The Sun article Dec. 8), not punitive measures that only drive poor people deeper into poverty.
Robert V. Hess
The writer is executive director of Action for the Homeless.
Pub Date: 12/13/96
Republicans want change and Ellen Sauerbrey
I read with interest Barry Rascovar's commentary, "Speak only ill of a fellow Republican," Dec. 8. He doth protesteth too much.
In 1994, Republicans wisely upset the status quo by nominating Del. Ellen Sauerbrey over Rep. Helen Bentley. They offered to Democrats and independents a candidate who in 16 years in the legislature never became a part of the government class.
She offered exciting new alternatives to cleaning up the mess created by years of poor policy implemented by Democrats and Republicans who got too comfortable in Annapolis and forgot the people.
Many Republicans are dismayed when they find their leaders in Annapolis working with the Democrats to maintain the status quo, which nearly all agree must be changed drastically to make Maryland competitive once again.
Thus, when Republicans in the legislature vote for stadium deals, light rail, gun control, higher taxes and budget-busting expenditures, many Republicans want change within the party establishment. These votes run directly counter to Republican philosophy.
When Anne Arundel County Executive John Gary implements a costly program to provide "free" cars to welfare recipients, and then accuses Mrs. Sauerbrey of going off the deep end, it is certainly legitimate for Republicans to protest.
When the chair of our state party is quoted in The Sun as basically endorsing the re-election of Democrat Louis Goldstein, Republicans have a right to be outraged.
Mrs. Sauerbrey has remained the gracious person she always has been throughout this struggle for the heart and soul of our party. Yet The Sun and others hold her to a seeming double-standard: praising establishment Republicans who have been hurting our party, while bashing Mrs. Sauerbrey.
It is sad to see the newspaper of H. L. Mencken become a part of the government class. We will continue this battle. Future generations depend on its outcome.
Daniel J. Earnshaw
Havre de Grace
Will funnier than he thinks
In what ways are George Will and Dave Barry alike? Both are published in The Sun, and both can be downright funny.
In the Nov. 28 edition of The Sun, Mr. Will wrote, "The 1930s were happy days for liberals because the Depression heightened Americans' feelings of dependency." Up until that sentence, one might have read the column thinking Mr. Will was being serious.
The difference between Mr. Will and Mr. Barry, of course, is that Mr. Will seems not to be trying to be funny. His timing, therefore, is superior. Dry stuff indeed.
Pearl Harbor was a date
I certainly agree with former Gov. William Donald Schaefer ("Let the day of infamy live also in memory," Dec. 6) that we should never forget the attack on Pearl Harbor. I would, however, like to point out that the correct quotation is, "a date that will live in infamy," not "the day."
Carol Cheney Meyers
Curley's courage worth remembering
Dan Rodricks' Dec. 9 column quoted from a message delivered by Archbishop Michael J. Curley in 1938.
His message forcefully castigated Nazi outrages done to German Jews on Crystal Night, generally considered the start of the Holocaust.
To someone caught in this bestiality and suffering through the ensuing Buchenwald Concentration Camp outrages in November/December 1938, Archbishop Curley's courageous words were of particular interest. Fifty-eight years ago such expressions were rare, indeed, and Catholic leadership was not always considered as pro-active on this issue as some had expected.
Dan Rodricks did the Baltimore community a favor by recalling the archbishop's remarkable comments.
Henry W. Eisner
Did men invent child care?
In response to Ken Fuson's Dec. 9 article in The Sun, isn't it amazing that women have been responsible for child care for centuries, with little acknowledgment or appreciation, and suddenly, when men perform this job they are pioneers.
Why is it that when a man performs what has commonly been a woman's function, suddenly it is given serious consideration and seen as a difficult and important job? And the men performing this job want special recognition.
Child care has typically been a woman's job because men didn't want it.
These men are worried about their careers when they return to the work force. And 63 percent of at-home dads feel isolated. Really? Welcome to the real world gentlemen.
Pub Date: 12/13/96