If slots are so bad, what about...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

If slots are so bad, what about lotteries and other gambling?

I agree with The Sun's editorial regarding South Carolina's ubiquitous video poker machines ("Silencing South Carolina slots," Oct. 17). However, I fail to see the difference between the seduction of video poker machines and a state-sponsored daily lottery.

How is a vending machine selling "Scratch-Offs" in a grocery store any safer for players than a poker machine in a laundromat?

In fact, the video poker machines don't have slick TV commercials seducing folks with dreams of riches.

Is gambling bad, or is it only "an evil" when the state cannot get its hands on a portion of the booty?

Who hasn't seen the disheveled souls in worn-out shoes handing over $10 or $20 to a store clerk in the morning to get their (regulated) numbers for the day?

Who hasn't seen the dozens of discarded losing tickets (dreams) on the ground -- tossed aside within moments of handing over cash that could have gone to better use?

Poker machines and state lotteries are highly addictive and both are, to use The Sun's words, "an industry built on greed."

As long as the state remains as addicted to the funds these games generate as the players are to the games, no solution will be forthcoming.

Pete Campbell, Bel Air

If gaming is "evil" and "an invitation to corruption," as The Sun's editorial pontificated, how does The Sun justify a state lottery that built two stadium projects -- or, worse, the keno game Maryland has now established in countless public places?

If gaming promotes corruption, then it can't be "cleansed" by what it supports -- whether it's a state-run lottery or a church-run bingo game.

If it's just slot machines that The Sun objects to, why are other forms of gaming free from the ills that make The Sun object to slots?

Without a doubt, slot machines will be abused by some citizens. But part of the population will abuse any freedom, be it smoking or alcohol or consumer credit.

While I would not want to see slot machines next to every lottery or keno machine in this state, I don't think slots at racetracks or even at an Inner Harbor location would be an Armageddon for morality in Maryland.

Fred Metschulat, Baltimore

Greed and indecency compromise the future

Two recent features in The Sun demonstrated the greed and indecency of corporate America and our elected politicians.

The series "The Giveaway Game" (Oct. 10-13) showed the rampant greed in corporate America today. The correct word for the incentive packages companies demand is "extortion."

These companies are wealthy, but want a free ride. They will lie and deceive to get it, while politicians bend over to fund their ever-increasing demands.

In the end, both companies and politicians are unwilling to be accountable when promises go unmet.

The article "Congress scolds INS for issuing too many high-tech worker visas," (Oct 13) showed another way business and government work hand-in-hand to hold down wages, benefits and the quality of life of American workers.

Corporate managers want a pliable, subservient work force and foreigners on visas provide a never-ending supply of such drones.

Today's business environment is out of control and, in the long term, will not serve the interests of the United States or the world economy.

I look at my children and feel in my heart we will leave them a much more hostile, uncaring and unfulfilling world. We are failing in our contract with the future.

Alan McAllister, Severna Park

Stop the giveaways to private companies

Thanks to The Sun for keeping us informed about private companies grabbing millions from the taxpayers ("The Giveaway Game," Oct. 10-13).

Public investments that help start-up companies and struggling small firms benefit society, but large, profitable firms extorting money from cities and states borders on criminal.

Here's what we can do: Stop doing business with these firms. If enough people send a message to these companies, executives and shareholders will take note.

Improving schools, mass transit, housing and the environment would accomplish much more than these giveaways to private companies.

Jerry Henger, Baltimore

Follow the money: from interests to media

Any media analysis of campaign finance reform should raise eyebrows ("Big money and politics: a primer," Oct. 15).

Follow the money: It flows from the special interests, to the politicians, to the media.

Is it any wonder the media never seriously discusses reform?

Jonathan Inskeep, Crofton

Ehrlich's vote on HMOs didn't serve public interest

One of the most significant pieces of citizen-protective legislation in recent history, the patients' bill of rights, just passed the House of Representatives and is soon to be debated in the U.S. Senate ("HMO loss fresh sign of GOP's woes," Oct. 9).

A large number of Republican representatives, sensitive to the public demand for HMO accountability and protection from the for-profit managed care industry, crossed party lines to support this landmark bill. They are to be applauded.

It is shameful that our representative, Robert L. Ehrlich, voted against the bill.

His "no" vote on this needed bill, and dogged adherence to party-line voting, is a reminder that we need to elect representatives who will vote conscientiously and with the public interest in mind.

Dr. David F. Jaffe, Havre de Grace

Budget choices affect access to health care

Diana K. Sugg's interpretation of Linda Welch-Green's health insurance problems is not one I share ("A few bad breaks make health care expensive dream," Opinion Commentary Oct. 6).

Ms. Welch-Green had some bad breaks, but is fortunate to be fully employed. She made budget choices and chose not to afford health insurance.

Ms. Welch-Green has chosen, for instance, by her own admission, to live in a house that she cannot afford.

Like most Americans, Ms. Welch-Green needs to look at her budget, prioritize her desires and possibly downsize to a lifestyle that better fits her salary -- and purchase health insurance if she chooses.

Americans have the freedom to make these kinds of choices -- thank God.

Cathy Thornton, Baltimore

Spicknall killing shows we must protect kids first

Last month's story about two small children murdered by their father lacked an important angle: Long before the man obtained a gun, the legal system failed to protect these defenseless children ("No gun found as divers search Choptank," Sept. 16).

Their mother had obtained a restraining order against Richard Wayne Spicknall II, indicating the court was aware of his potential to be dangerous, yet the children were allowed to be alone with him.

Tragically, this ultimately cost these children their lives. It appears the father's parental rights took precedence over the rights of these children to be safe.

These children could be alive today if the courts had implemented supervised visitation. The parent-child relationship could have been maintained, while ensuring the children's safety.

This case was extraordinary. However, many other scenarios, for instance parents with impaired judgment because of mental illness or drugs, could put children in unsafe environments.

In such cases, the courts must intervene and order supervised visitation.

This may be an inconvenience and an added expense. But it is our obligation to protect children from potential tragedies, even when the danger is from a parent.

Jennifer Giordano, Baltimore

To our readers

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