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Federal government should quash effort to sue...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Federal government should quash effort to sue tobacco firms

The federal government's proposed lawsuit against the tobacco industry, highlighted in "Higher tobacco penalty sought" (Jan. 21), is another example of the excesses of our legal system. As noted in the article, warnings about the hazards of smoking have been on cigarette packages for 35 years. There are few, if any, people who could honestly say they did not know that smoking causes many severe illnesses.

The government is not an innocent bystander in this case; it makes millions from cigarette taxes very year.

In his State of the Union address, President Clinton correctly said taxpayers should not pay for cigarette-related health care. He went on to say that the tobacco companies should foot the bill. Cigarettes are a legal product with a "buyer beware" sticker right on the box.

Smokers bring diseases upon themselves, and they should be responsible.

Taxes on cigarettes should be raised, with a specific portion set aside to cover the estimated medical bills for smoking-related illnesses. If smokers don't like it, they have a healthy alternative. They can quit.

E. Mitchell Arion, Goldsboro

Offer tax incentives to city's middle class

I read the letter to the editor "Keeping middle class is best way for city to fight crime" (Jan. 21). I agree with this theory, but it will not work.

Incentives are needed for the middle class to remain in the city. The one that would benefit individuals the most would be a tax credit for living in the city. Many people, as you know, have moved because of the rise in property taxes. So drop the tax, and let's see what happens. The city could not be in any worse shape than it already is.

Joanne Mazzie, Baltimore

Police department bias in the community, too

I am writing in response to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's findings on Dec. 22. The Baltimore City Police Department demonstrates bias not only within the department but also on the streets of the city.

Over the past 10 years, in my neighborhood and on the streets, I've witnessed and heard stories reflecting decreasing respect from police officers for citizens.

Lavonne C. Jones, Baltimore

Country does not need expansion of bureaucracy

As a 22-year-old college student, I find it very difficult to see the big picture for the future of this country if the president is intent on further expanding the vast bureaucracy "Appealing for bipartisan effort, Clinton sees 'limitless promise,' " Jan. 20).

Mr. Clinton believes that a Social Security program that makes use of Wall Street to receive greater revenues will be effective. Well, quite frankly, he is banking too much on the healthy state of the economy. What goes up must come down, and our economy is a prime example of this simple law of physics.

The reality that faces us is that this puts the Social Security money that my parents are relying on in jeopardy. It takes only a steady one-week drop to lose millions of dollars in Social Security money that baby boomers rely on.

If you can hear the sound of the cash register open, you will no doubt see the hands of a beleaguered Bill Clinton pulling for his share.

Andy Rittler, Salisbury

Safety, not elitism, drives Homeland residents

Contrary to John McIntyre's "Cruising through Homeland" (Jan. 18), local traffic calming in residential areas is not some sort of elitist plot. A myriad of studies shows that these devices reduce the number and severity of accidents involving children.

It is a major demand of the political left and of "greens" throughout Western Europe, particularly in Germany, The Netherlands, and Denmark.

Most of the places we think of as cradles of civilization were gated communities. If Baltimore's devastated areas have any hope, it is to be found in creating more of these communities, as recent experiences in the South Bronx and in St. Louis illustrate.

The neighborhoods that have traffic calming have it because they have active community associations derived from deed covenants. Poorer residential neighborhoods, aside from Charles Village, would also have such associations had not the Schmoke administration opposed their creation.

George Liebmann, Baltimore

Managers' call for time points to weakness of case

Just when I didn't think it was possible for the House of Representatives' managers to demonstrate further how completely out of touch they are with reality, they leap for the microphones to ask for more time to present their case.

Former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers had barely left the well of the chamber before these Republicans started howling ("End 'nightmare,' Senate is urged," Jan. 22). The public has heard nothing but the prosecution's side for more than a year now, but after only some 10 hours of the legal defense against the impeachment charges, the House managers are desperately begging for more time.

It seems to me that no greater proof of the weakness of the case against the president can be found than this.

With every hour that the Republican Party allows this farce to continue, it sinks farther toward the ashcan of history. While the partisan side of me almost wishes this charade to go on and on, the practical side, like that of nearly every American not holding federal office as a Republican, wants it to end now.

Not next week. Now.

Joe Roman, Baltimore

Bumpers' eloquent speech showed lack of Starr quality

Former U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers made an eloquent defense against the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton ("End 'nightmare,' Senate is urged," Jan. 22). It was one of the most impassioned speeches I have heard in some time. It reminded me of the speeches of Lincoln and Churchill I have read and of those of Martin Luther King Jr. and Barbara Jordan, which I have heard.

Mr. Bumpers made the point that independent counsel Kenneth Starr has investigated Mr. Clinton for years.

He said Mr. Starr has spent millions of our tax dollars, had hundreds of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents pursue the case and bankrupted citizens in his relentless quest to get something, anything, on the lascivious, reprehensible Mr. Clinton, whose faults do not deserve removal from office.

Bob Kambic, Baltimore

Jealousy is a reason for pursuit of Clinton

This is to express appreciation for Susan Reimer's column "End this impeachment process now, hear me?" (Jan. 19). She spoke for many who voted for the president and wanted to believe in him.

I believe, however, that her saying "This is an intergenerational fight about sex" is only part of the story. It is also an intra-generational fight about sex. Much of the visceral hatred of President comes from the "good boys" of his generation who deeply resent his doing the things they only dreamed of doing.

I speak as a Southern Baptist who knows what it was like to resent the guys who had all the fun.

Christians who are truly concerned abut morality would notice that Jesus said far more about greed and materialism than he ever said about sex.

Robert W. Dorr, Baltimore

Legislators need to hear special interest groups

In "For lawmakers, here's a primer" (Jan. 13), Barry Rascovar writes: "Do not be swayed by well-organized special interest groups that pester your office with 'grass-roots' phone calls and letter-writing campaigns to pressure you into voting their way."

Mr. Rascovar implies that the duty of citizens stops at the polling place. If members of the public -- banding together with like-minded individuals into better-organized, louder-voiced special interest groups -- can't make their feelings known to their representatives, how can these representatives know what their constituents want?

Stephanie Panos Link, Hampstead

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 1/25/99

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