Custodial parents bear the real burden of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Custodial parents bear the real burden of child support

Maryland should be applauded for having guidelines that call for the fourth-highest level of child support in the country. However, even these guidelines fail to cover the costs of raising a child ("Policies on child support assessed," Aug. 29).

According to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, families averaging $23,000 per year in income spend more than $2,000 more per year raising their children than what is provided for under Maryland's guidelines.

This difference has to be made up somewhere, and it usually comes out of the custodial parent's pocket.

Moreover, The Sun's article failed to mention that in addition to caring for their children on a day-to-day basis, custodial parents are also assessed with child support in proportion to their income, just like non-custodial parents.

So if the non-custodial parent is struggling, it's a safe bet that the custodial parent and child are struggling too.

In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, one out of every three custodial mothers lives at or below the poverty line.

In reviewing child support policies, we must all remember that custodial parents are also making major financial sacrifices to support their children.

Thus, while we can all empathize with the economic plight of some non-custodial parents, we also know that the custodial parent never gets to miss a payment.

Melvina C. Ford

Towson

The writer is legal projects manager for the Women's Law Center of Maryland.

The Sun's article "Policies on child support assessed" (Aug. 29) mentioned many statistics on child support but left out several critical points.

How many of these in-arrears fathers are active drug users who would rather buy drugs than even think about supporting their kids? Or work under the table just to avoid their obligation?

How many deadbeat dads are fathering more children they can't support?

More important, the article made no mention of the mothers who are working two and three jobs just to survive, not to mention dealing with the stress involved in raising children alone.

My advice to those who conducted the study is to talk to the people who suffer the most -- those of us who do their best everyday to take care of what's important: our children.

Shirell L. Wright

Baltimore

Bush's tax cut returns money to those who pay the most

While the strong economy may be cushioning the blow of today's high taxes, that does not mean that Texas Gov. George W. Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut is ill-timed or too big ("George W. Bush's tax-cut blues," editorial, Aug. 29).

And The Sun's editorial did not analyze the paltry size of size of the tax cuts and huge spending hikes in Vice President Al Gore's plan.

According to our research, Mr. Gore's spending plans add up to $2.3 trillion, more than enough to wipe out our projected non-Social Security surplus.

It is true that Mr. Bush's tax cut returns more money to taxpayers with higher earnings. But that's because they pay a dramatically higher percentage of total income taxes.

In 1997, the top one percent of earners paid 33.2 percent of all income taxes and the top 50 percent paid 95.7 percent.

Instead of creating new loopholes and targets that only further complicate the tax code, Mr. Bush would return the money to those who paid in the first place.

Although it is true that good times never last, Mr. Bush's plan would help prolong economic expansion by creating more incentives for Americans to work hard, save their money and innovate.

On the other hand, Mr. Gore appears to be plotting a return to the bad old days of the 1970s by creating new government programs and stifling innovation.

Paul J. Gessing

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is a policy associate at the National Taxpayers' Union.

We should open up our border with Mexico

Mexican President Vicente Fox is right on target: We should have open borders with Mexico ("Mexico's Fox brings bold ideas to U.S.," Aug. 24).

If we are going to have free trade with Mexico, as we do under NAFTA, we should have open borders with Mexico as well as Canada.

Poor brown-skinned people are just as valuable as descendants of Northern Europeans. They should be able to move as freely as capital, or as freely as privileged immigrants with graduate degrees.

Mexican workers are sorely needed here and should not have to live in fear of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or to risk their very lives to come here.

Also, since most Mexicans are descended from Native Americans as well as Spaniards, it could be argued they have as much right to live and work here as any descendant of later, European settlers.

Lilice Wickman

Ellicott City

Use vouchers to reform, not replace, public schools

Linda Chavez missed two critical points in her column advocating school vouchers ("School choice for me, not you," Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 1).

First, parents who make sacrifices to send their children to private schools still pay for public education. We have not, cannot avoid our greater responsibility, but get nothing directly back for our taxes. I resent paying twice, but make that choice.

Second, if as Ms. Chavez asserts, voucher programs demonstrate that children can be better educated and that class-size and home life are not limiting factors, then we can zero in on the other factors that make schools work.

I suggest the lessons that make a difference can be identified and brought back to public schools to make them viable centers of learning and development again.

Vouchers as a demonstration project, yes; vouchers as an education alternative, no.

Harvey W. Cohen

Baltimore

Sleep-deprived doctors endanger our health

The excellent TV series "Hopkins 24/7" demonstrates the irresponsibility of the medical profession in requiring interns exhausted from long hours and lack of sleep to treat patients. Is it any wonder many thousands of patients die each year because of mistakes in hospitals?

Truck drivers are required to get a number of hours of rest before getting behind the wheel. Airline pilots are required to rest before taking off with passengers. Why are hospital interns different?

What kind of clout does the medical profession have that allows hospitals to endanger the lives and well being of patients with sleep-deprived doctors? Where are the regulators and the legislators who seek to protect us from everything else?

Are they asleep while interns work 36-hour shifts?

Harry R. Shriver

Pikesville

Nader's popularity, exclusion ought to be a major story

If The Sun were truly interested in providing readers with a well-rounded, unbiased view of the presidential campaigns, it would give equal coverage to all candidates on Maryland's ballot.

Forcing people to believe they must choose the lesser of two evils, because that is all that is covered in the news, is an unfair and untrue view of the election.

The fact that Ralph Nader will not even be allowed into the presidential debates should be a top news story.

And we have made history by putting the Green Party on the Maryland ballot for the first time. Is this not newsworthy?

But it seems that today's news organizations are not in business to serve the public. It seems they are in business to serve the same people the Democratic and Republican parties serve -- big business.

Pat Cruz

Baltimore

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