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Legalizing drugs is not the solutionAlthough I...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Legalizing drugs is not the solution

Although I agree with the premise of decriminalizing drugs, I do not agree with legalizing them, as is proposed in "Attack the profit, not the fact, of drugs" by A. Robert Kaufman, (Dec. 10).

One part of the resolution of the City Wide Coalition seeks to appeal to Congress to create a commission of non-profit organizations to administer illegal drugs, thereby taking the street profit out of drugs. In my opinion, this would not solve the public health problem that drug abuse presents, which is just as important as the profit motive.

Perhaps another approach by the commission could be mandatory treatment (instead of jail) that would provide a legal alternative to addiction. I believe there are medical options that can be used to treat such addictions.

Another part of the resolution addresses the poverty and unemployment issues that contribute to drug abuse.

Public works programs, such as the ones we had in the 1930s, may not be as effective as they once were, since drug addicts suffer from a health problem and not an economic one.

The primary thrust of any program to address the drug problem has to deal with it from a medical perspective. Providing employment through "public works" or private enterprise is important to the well-being of the community and should be approached from an economic perspective, not rehabilitation.

Having a job as an alternative to drugs needs to occur before the option of drugs presents itself. To break the cycle of drug abuse, all of our institutions must participate in a meaningful way, and that includes public schools, non-profit organizations and government.

Patricia M. Ranney

Millersville

Stop-light cameras are a good idea

Not only will electronic cops deter traffic violators, they may help the police officers in their cruisers.

Yesterday, as we waited for the red light to change at Timonium and York roads, no fewer than three vehicles ran the opposing light (the last one flagrantly) after ours turned green.

The "we" I refer to were me and the police officers in a cruiser. If officers have neither the time nor the desire to enforce traffic violations, maybe it's time for "Big Brother" to assist.

Bill Burnham

Timonium

Fire detectors are not enough

If ever there was an example of starting a vast project with a half-vast idea, it is the Clinton administration's effort to require fire detectors -- but not fire suppression equipment -- in the cargo bays of commercial airliners.

As a bomber crew member during World War II, I can attest that of all the emergencies that can take place in the air, fire is the most dangerous and probably the most deadly.

I don't think a detector would be much comfort to airline passengers or a crew trapped in an airplane whose control mechanism is being destroyed by fire that cannot be controlled.

The answer is to combine the fire detectors with fire suppression equipment similar to that which has been installed in engine nacelles since I was flying. At least we could bail out -- my crew did twice. Effective fire suppression equipment probably would have prevented the ValuJet crash that killed 110 earlier this year.

While I am dead set against government interferring in private industry decisions, this is one case in which cost should not be a reason for inaction.

There should be a deadline for installation of fire suppression equipment as a prerequisite of airworthiness certification.

Chuck Frainie

Woodlawn

Make grand plans for Pikes Theatre

Having grown up in Pikesville and having spent many hours at the Pikes Theatre in the '60s I beg those with whom the responsibility of redevelopment falls not to turn the Pikes into another tacky shopping mall a la Los Angeles. How wonderful it would be if the architectural character of the Pikes could remain basically unchanged while serving the local community on a grande scale.

Richard Bryan Crystal

Baltimore

Social work critic doesn't know what it is

Please give us more James Payne (Opinion Commentary article, "Welfare reform may fall to the enemy within," Dec. 11. I haven't laughed so hard in ages).

Imagine: Social workers want to "ensure that all persons have access to the resources, services and opportunities which they require." And social workers are opposed to "human suffering."

Too bad they aren't deep intellectual thinkers like Mr. Payne.

Mr. Payne recognizes that giving people opportunities merely promotes dependence. Hunger, homelessness and suffering are far better motivators.

I can't wait for the next appearance of a Heritage Foundation personality on Comic Relief.

Jeff Singer

Baltimore

4 The writer is a licensed clinical social worker.

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I am a social worker in agreement with the recently passed welfare reform bill, as are many colleagues who graduated with me from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1994.

Some of James Payne's opinions of the social work field are certainly felt by many social workers, including me, but I believe he has grossly misrepresented what social work is and what social work schools teach their students.

His statement that "social workers are steeped in the idea that any kind of suffering or being in need is wrong" is correct. I believe what is important is that we as a society must decide what kind of world we want to live in.

Would it be an easier place if we did not worry about anyone but ourselves? Would it be better just to get used to the horrible things that go on in the world?

He has no idea of the magnitude of suffering and overwhelming problems that social workers are expected to solve and make better. I suspect many social workers believe the welfare reform law represents a further retraction of support for the field of social work.

Social workers are not taught to encourage whining or blaming of others. Instead, I remember being taught that every program, every government agency and every person should be scrutinized and made better.

I was taught that I was an agent of change and that I could create a better place. It will be a serious mistake on the part of many if they choose to discount the field of social work in administering the new welfare reform law.

This field truly trains its social workers to understand an individual and the systems which surround this person. The code of ethics I learned was that people should have access to resources, services and opportunities which they require to better help themselves. Social workers should be applauded for the difficult tasks they endure every day.

Kristin Battista

Arlington, Va.

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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