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Investment industry fuels fear of demise for...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Investment industry fuels fear of demise for Social Security

The Sun article "A meeting of minds on Social Security" (Dec. 7) treats as an undisputed fact the prediction that the Social Security trust fund will be exhausted by 2032, requiring a 25 percent cut in benefits. This is not a fact; it is a supposition, based on actuarial projections that have been challenged as too conservative.

An air of crisis has been pumped up by people who see a chance to grab a chunk of Social Security tax receipts for themselves in the form of sales commissions on investment accounts that are proposed to replace the present system. Newt Gingrich expects Social Security to wither on the vine once the trust fund is broken into individually administered pieces and means-testing is introduced to limit these accounts to the poor and the near-poor.

In the 21st century, Social Security and Medicare could go the way of Aid to Families With Dependent Children, to the joy of those impatient to get rid of all those impoverished old people who are now inconveniently living into their 80s and 90s.

Propagandists for individual accounts point to Chile's experience evidence for the success of privatization, but Chile is a smaller country, and its brief experience of a mere decade or two confirms the judgment of those who criticize the idea of individual private accounts.

We ought to proceed very cautiously in changing a system that has been invested securely, administered with thrift for decades and on which so many depend for survival. Against the cries of crisis, there is abundant evidence that far less radical measures will be quite effective now as in the past.

Elinor H. Kerpelman

Baltimore

Soros' links to the mayor raise drug policy concern

When George Soros pledged $25 million to Baltimore City, his objectives were reasonably clear in finishing what Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke started 10 years ago -- a city that provides drugs to addicts on demand.

Mr. Soros financed the Drug Policy Foundation (DPF) and the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. His promotional and financial support of cities in the Netherlands, particularly Rotterdam, Baltimore's sister city, has made that country one of the most liberalized for drug use.

Mr. Soros, through his "open cities" plan, the Lindaman Institute, and the DPF, which has directed Mr. Schmoke's drug policies, has favored Mr. Schmoke, whom he considers an ideal supporter to carry his plan nationally, especially in major cities with large African-American populations.

When Mr. Soros speaks in Baltimore before "Future Quest 1999" at the Hyatt Regency today he will have been supported financially by The Sun. It is no secret that Mr. Soros manages a large number of shares in Times-Mirror.

Since the Open Cities Institute opened in Baltimore last year, Mr. Schmoke's announcement that he will not run again leads many to believe he will join Mr. Soros. Just what Baltimore's future will be -- considering its large drug population, needle exchange and other liberal drug policies -- can only be anticipated with great concern for the future.

Marshall M. Meyer

Timonium

Kevorkian answers calling that is only his own

Helping a man commit suicide was not a crime, no matter what the words say on paper, is how Dr. Jack Kevorkian responded to his indictment for murder after his televised act of euthanasia ("Kevorkian to face murder trial in death on '60 Minutes,' " Dec. 10).

His glower as much as his words invoked the image of Abraham, the Old Testament figure who resolved to kill his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God.

In neither case was the law of men deemed binding. Both claimed to be compelled by a higher authority.

In Abraham's case, it was God. In Dr. Kevorkian's case, it was himself.

Gregory L Lewis

Baltimore

Different approach to drugs would bankrupt dealers

The article by Ivan Penn and Gerald Shields "Nine show interest in race for Baltimore mayor in '99" (Dec. 8) reporting that Carl Stokes and I have declared candidacies for mayor was fair and well-balanced. It sets a standard that I hope The Sun will honor throughout the campaign.

There are, however, a couple of points that should be clarified.

Although I marched for civil rights in the 1960s, I also marched, picketed and sat-in for civil rights as early as 1947.

It is a misstatement to write that I would push for the legalization of drugs.

I adamantly reject legalization as vehemently as I do the "war on drugs," which causes far more harm than the drugs.

For six years the Citywide Coalition, a nonprofit agency I head, has advocated a third way. Through federally funded, community-controlled clinics, addicts could buy drugs at a cost so low that selling drugs on the street and in schools would no longer be profitable. It would still be illegal to sell drugs on the street, but if there were no profits, who would want to?

There would be no vested interest in recruiting a new generation into the drug culture. The drugs would be free of additives and would be clearly marked as to potency. The cartels would have to hold bankruptcy sales.

I also believe that a national jobs program, somewhat like the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps camps of the 1930s, would be a necessary component.

A. Robert Kaufman

Baltimore

L The writer is an announced candidate for mayor of Baltimore.

There's no higher crime than president's perjury

Your lead editorial ("Without high crimes, end impeachment now," Dec. 8) is an insult to every American who is literate enough to read our Constitution and who cares enough about the rule of law in this country to heed it.

The sanctity of the oath every witness in any legal proceeding, criminal or civil, is an important part of the foundation of our legal system, so much so that 105 Americans are serving time for not telling the truth under oath. Others have paid heavy fines and lost jobs and professional standing as a result of prosecutions by the Clinton administration's Department of Justice.

It's called perjury, and it's a very serious offense, exponentially so when the perjurer is the president.

No thinking American can doubt that Mr. Clinton lied in a civil deposition in January and again in his grand jury testimony. His perjury undermines the basis of our system of government.

For the opinion-makers at The Sun and the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee to insist that perjury by a president is not a high crime is silly. If it is not, what is? There is no higher crime.

Chuck Frainie

Woodlawn

Judiciary hearing process violated the rule of law

The Republicans' main theme in the impeachment investigation is that the president's actions have undermined the rule of law upon which our system of government is based.

Yet what I saw every day in the charade performed by the Judiciary Committee was a clear attempt to railroad a foregone conclusion, based on a biased report from independent counsel Kenneth Starr that fails to support its own evidence.

When Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York repeatedly raised a point of order, a parliamentary imperative that takes precedence over whatever action is on the floor, Chairman Henry Hyde deliberately ignored him. I have never seen such a bald and arrogant violation of our so-called rule of law.

I predict that in two years the Republicans will pay grievously for their self-righteous hypocrisy.

Michael Kernan

Baltimore

"By releasing the articles of impeachment even before [White House counsel Charles] Ruff had finished testifying . . . the Republicans on the committee showed they had no intention of considering [President] Clinton's defense seriously" ("Clinton charges unveiled," Dec. 10).

That sentence should have been emblazoned on the front page, revealing just how farcical this impeachment procedure is. Kenneth Starr had four years; House Judiciary Chairman Henry Hyde refused the defense team four days.

With the four cut down to two, Mr. Hyde couldn't even bother to hear them out. Talk about arrogance! So much for the judiciousness of Mr. Hyde's Judiciary Committee.

Rea Knisbacher

Baltimore

Pub Date: 12/15/98

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