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Maryland's lottery should give players chance to...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Maryland's lottery should give players chance to dream big

I read Barry Rascovar's Opinion Commentary article ("Odds are lottery interest will continue to wane," Feb. 10) lamenting the decline of the lottery in Maryland. The column gave two reasons for the decline:

A desire among the public for larger jackpots.

A need for faster and quicker drawings.

While I agree with the first reason, I must disagree with the second.

I buy a lottery ticket essentially for one reason: I'm buying a dream, the dream of the big payoff and retirement to an oasis. I know I won't actually win, so in essence, as soon as the numbers are drawn, my dream ends.

And I can't get the dream for a $1 million or $2 million jackpot. I need $10 million, $20 million or $50 million to do it right. If the pot is small, I don't buy.

When the drawing was weekly, I was able to buy a ticket on Monday and live the dream for almost a week before reality came crashing down the following Saturday. With a twice-weekly drawing, I usually don't even read in the newspaper if there was a winner until two days later. That gives me only a day or two to buy a ticket before the next drawing -- not enough time to live the dream and sometimes not even enough time to get a ticket, considering my schedule. So, I don't buy.

I believe, from my personal experience, that the decline in lottery sales is not because payoffs are not often enough, but because they happen too often. I want to see a single, large winner not hundreds or thousands of people getting mere hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Dirk Nordling, Sykesville

Before changing its vote, Carroll showed arrogance

Having lived in Arizona when that state was the laughingstock of the nation for its governor's 1987 decision to rescind the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I am appalled at the insensitivity and shortsightedness of Carroll County officials who wanted to cancel the holiday for schoolchildren there.

Carroll officials were quoted in "Decision to drop holiday attacked" (Feb. 12) as saying that the children would learn more about King's life by being in school on that day (and on President's Day, which they also wanted to revoke) than hanging out at the mall and watching television. That statement adds incredible arrogance to the shortsightedness of the decision [which has been reversed].

According to that reasoning, parents are not to be trusted with passing on values to children. School should be required on all holidays, so that schools can indoctrinate children about their real meaning. Pretty soon, we can do away with parents altogether.

For my part, I take care on all holidays to explain to my children what we are honoring on that day. I also try to spend some quality time with my kids on those days, time that is not available to me on other days of the week, not even weekends, when the chores of the week must be done.

I believe that King would approve of those kinds of family values, and my kids are learning what those values are.

George Cathcart, Columbia

If virtually any other holiday had been eliminated from the school year, Carroll County would have been praised for putting education first.

Does more time spent in school benefit students? That is the question that needs to be answered.

It is clear that children could only benefit from more education, not less. Yet, we hear virtually no one defending the Carroll County decision. Why? Fear. Fear of being called a racist. Fear of not obeying the politically correct code.

What was once a noble and righteous struggle for the rights of all people in this country has degenerated into a contemporary form of McCarthyism. We can only guess what King would have thought.

Donald S. Smith, Baltimore

Smart Growth makes sense for dwindling open space

I feel better after reading Dan Rodricks' column ("Look inward, Baltimore, for open space," Feb. 5). Always do. So, who's paying attention?

"Gray spreads. Green dwindles," Mr. Rodricks says, pointing out the benefits of Smart Growth for Baltimore and surrounding areas. It makes such good sense to revive older urban and suburban areas and spare open green space.

Unfortunately, greedy developers and legislators out of touch with the pulse of our Mother Earth don't feel a thing. They gamble that the gray spreading from their projects will put green into their coffers. And the natural human impetus by consumers to want the new, the fresh, feeds that greed. Heck, why should a suburbanite care about fixing up city schools when he can send his kids to a new county one?

People must wake up. We're all in this together. We must all take an active interest in Smart Growth before we choke ourselves right off the face of the planet.

Stephanie Panos Link, Hampstead

Real targets exhausted, so Falwell attacks fiction

As a 26-year-old homosexual male, I find it hysterical that Jerry Falwell is so bored with his anti-homosexual crusade that he is attacking fictional characters from a children's television program ("Don't ask, don't teletubby," Feb. 12).

Are there no other social issues of importance that should overshadow the sexual orientation of something that doesn't even exist? Maybe the belief in something that cannot be proven to exist (a god, for example) is the root of his ignorance.

Maybe this crusade against the Teletubbies is a sign that Mr. Falwell has exhausted all other means to get across to people his ignorance and hatred. We can only hope as much.

Craig Kile, Baltimore

War masks humanity of Ethiopians, Eritreans

To add a human note to the articles on the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, I spent two years living in the tiny village of Segeneiti, in the highlands of Eritrea.

I arrived as a Peace Corps volunteer two years after the country overwhelmingly voted for independence. I expected to find widespread hatred of the Ethiopian people, but instead was stunned by the spirit of cooperation between the two countries, spearheaded by their leaders, Eritrean President Isayas Afewerki and Ethopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The horrors of the past could never be erased, but they would be forcefully pushed aside to allow for the growth and development of two of Africa's poorest nations. For two years, I found myself adrift in a sea of rebirth and renewal. Eritrea was a country on the verge of a new age. Its material poverty was more than compensated for by its richness of spirit.

As President Afewerki told Hillary Clinton during her visit in 1997: "We danced during the 30-year war, and still we dance." That is the heart of the Eritrean people.

I worked alongside people dedicated to rebuilding their homeland, willing to work without pay to justify the sacrifices made by martyrs who died during the struggle. I found humans who were singing and dancing for joy because they no longer had fears of airplanes dropping bombs on their homes, crops or loved ones.

People with nothing to spare took me in, fed me, served me traditional coffee and told me of their hope. That is the country described as the jewel in the Horn of Africa.

From the letters my former students write to me now, there is fear, anger and confusion about why the outside world does not help the two countries resolve their differences.

Marni Sommer, Baltimore

State should put cap on contingency fees

Who are Sen. Thomas Bromwell and Peter Angelos trying to kid? Mr. Bromwell claims his bill to eliminate monetary caps on asbestos suits filed by his friend Mr. Angelos is only for the benefit of Mr. Angelos' clients. ("Bill ends asbestos suit cap," Feb. 11).

Mr. Angelos claims to be "long past" concern about the size of his fee in these cases. Oh really?

This proposed bill is about one thing -- money; lots more for Mr. Angelos and lots more for the Democratic senators who do his bidding.

The existing monetary cap should remain. The only action the state Senate should consider is to cap the percentage allowed to the contingency fee lawyers. This would allow more money for the true asbestos victims.

James Tabeling, Baltimore

Pub Date: 2/20/99

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