Legislators failed to do right thing on...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Legislators failed to do right thing on drunken driving

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee should be ashamed of itself for its irresponsibility in failing to pass tougher drunken-driving laws ("What does 'drunken' mean?" March 23).

The committee had a golden opportunity to show some resolve, to show that its members are truly in touch with the desires of their constituents by raising the standard by which drivers are deemed intoxicated.

Unfortunately, our lawmakers seem to prefer giving the drinking driver more leeway as well as the benefit of the doubt.

The House's failure to do the right thing should not be forgotten by the voters.

John Martalo, Owings Mills

Economist didn't predict 'free fall' for economy

Your article "President's economic legacy debated" (March 17) is seriously misleading. Reporter Jonathan Weisman claims that I predicted that President Clinton's 1993 budget "would send the economy into a free fall."

I've never said that because although I thought Mr. Clinton's tax increase would harm the economy and was unfair, I didn't believe, even back in 1993, that increasing taxes only for the 1 or 2 percent of Americans with the highest incomes and for upper-income seniors would cause huge harm.

Moreover, although Mr. Weisman quotes seven other economists of varying political views, I am the only one whose ideology he tries to identify.

I am not a conservative, as he claims, but a libertarian, as Mr. Weisman could have found out simply by asking me.

More important, he doesn't even hint at the political views of the other seven. Do the other people he interviewed, including President Clinton's chief economist and one of his former chief economists, not have political leanings?

Why doesn't The Sun give its readers the whole story?

David R. Henderson, Stanford, Calif.

The writer is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace.

Column was reminder of two types of slavery

I would like to thank Clarence Page ("Freeing slaves not child's play" March 17) for reminding us of what most of us already know: Human slavery abroad, wage slavery at home.

Jah Hannibal Abba Ra, Havre de Grace

Are job layoffs a laughing matter?

Nice caption

Nice caption -- eliminate 5,000 jobs, and the two guys are laughing (Deal-makers: Fleet Financial Chairman Terrence Murray, left, and BankBoston Chairman Charles Gifford, March 16).

Barbara F. Healy, Baltimore

Creationism is complete, but science has holes

The letter "No objection to creationism outside the public arena" (March 15) shows an obvious bias when the writer equates creationism with "fairy dust" or as coming out of a "Cracker Jack package." Also, he states that the "eventuating of life" (I presume as human beings) is "demonstrable and is empirically provable biology."

It appears that he may be of the big-bang gang. Do I assume that he is also able to explain the concept of infinity? He implies that science is able to prove how man is alone among animals in coming to conscience and reflection. I'd love to read the book from such a genius.

Until such a genius proves himself, however, I will continue to believe that man is so unique that there is another possible explanation in his appearing as he does. Creationism at this point is as valid as the writer's full-of-holes science.

Raymond J. Colombo, Baltimore

Litter the highways with message of hate?

If the Ku Klux Klan can put up its sign because of its participation in the Adopt-a-Road Program, can every hate group in the country join and turn our roads into billboards of hatred?

Patricia Cole Blom, Baltimore

Column insulted choice, not size, of swimmers

It boggles the mind that so many people can read but can't comprehend.

The way I understood Kevin Cowherd's column ("They're big, they're fat, they're hairy they're at the pool and, wait, it gets worse"), he was not deriding fat people. He was questioning their audacity to wear a Speedo swimsuit. People taking offense need to lighten up.

Alice Anderson, Towson

Maryland still needs its mental hospitals

The article "Psychiatric hospitals stand almost empty" (March 14) mentioned some of the crucial issues in mental health care today but did little to clarify the problems or their potential solutions.

The headline of the article gives the impression that the number of people requiring inpatient mental health care has dropped to almost nothing, which is not accurate. Many mental hospitals throughout the state have a high census and, in some cases, waiting lists. The network of state-owned and operated facilities has seen the major decline, not psychiatric hospitals in general.

The article refers to "the advent of anti-psychotic drugs that made confinement unnecessary." While the large, state-operated mental hospitals across the country were profoundly affected by drugs that made people with certain illnesses better able to function at a higher level, they hardly made psychiatric beds unnecessary. Even more important, the concept of deinstitutionalization was based on the idea that a large network of well-funded, well-staffed community mental health services would be built and maintained.

If you were to ask virtually anyone in the mental health field, or those with personal contact with it, whether people with mental illness have access to a comprehensive network of mental health care services in the community, I doubt that anyone would say yes.

What really happened is that people who had spent many years in state hospitals were suddenly, without preparation and with little alternative, discharged. Studies have shown that approximately one-third of the homeless in our cities are former state hospital patients.

There is no question that shutting down large state hospitals and replacing them with community-based services would have been a vast improvement. However, the money from discharging these patients did not go to fund such a network, and it is unlikely that if the state were to close Spring Grove and Crownsville, the savings would be put directly in an expanded state mental health care budget.

There probably is no reason for having more than eight state-run institutions or for spending money on little-used facilities or maintaining aging, unneeded sites. However, far more important than saving some money in the budget or selling the land off at a profit is the question of how we can best provide care for those among us who become mentally ill.

It's hard to argue with the basic point of the article, but it seems so much more crucial to think about -- and perhaps write investigative articles on -- why we do not provide adequate services for the mentally ill. We also should think about why we allow the disgrace of so many of our citizens being forced to try to survive on the street and why we have a system in which once your insurance runs out, your only option is a state hospital.

John Molinaro, Baltimore

Letters to the Editor

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.

Pub Date: 3/25/99

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