Tobacco taxes aren't the way to pay for care

I am still reeling from the recent increase in cigarette taxes to pay for education. Now Vincent DeMarco, head of the Maryland Citizens Health Initiative, believes "an increase in the tobacco tax would cover the costs" of health care for poor adults ("Medicaid revolving door frustrates many in Md.," Sept. 1).

I am sick and tired of everyone who wants to fund his or her pet project thinking that the answer is to raise cigarette taxes.

Raising cigarette taxes accomplishes only one thing -- it raises the number of Marylanders who go to Virginia to buy their cigarettes.

It does not deter teen-age smoking, according to a study by Cornell University. It does not replace the millions of dollars of tobacco settlement money the state has lost through laziness and stupidity.

Bring casinos to Maryland. Tax fast food (which causes as many health problems as smoking). Make gun manufacturers pay for their disproportionate contribution to health care costs. Legalize drugs and tax them. Raise gas taxes, so gas-guzzlers pay their share.

But stop picking my pocket, because I am, as a smoker, an easy target.

The message is loud and clear --- smokers are not welcome in Maryland, but their money is. Well, hear this: I smoke, and I vote.

Peggy Terl


Fund health care instead of abortion

It is truly a tragedy that the critical health care needs of so many people in Maryland are not being met ("Medicaid revolving door frustrates many in Md.," Sept. 1).

The tragedy is amplified by the fact that last year the state spent $2.3 million of our tax dollars to pay for abortions. Maryland pays about four times the combined total that the surrounding states and Washington, D.C., pay for abortions annually.

Pregnancy is not an illness, and abortion is not health care. It's time the state legislature stopped the irresponsible use of health care dollars for the destruction of life, and funneled them to meet the needs of people caught in Medicaid's "revolving door."

Nancy E. Fortier


The writer is associate director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.

Barriers to care cost us dignity

Two recent articles outlined the insurmountable hurdles the poor face in our health care system ("Woman's health problems creating a cycle of despair," Aug. 22, and "Medicaid revolving door frustrates many in Md.," Sept. 1).

The personal stories outlined in them remind us of the many we heard during then-first lady Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful attempt to reform the system 10 years ago -- and of how little has been accomplished in all that time.

How can we be proud of a country that treats its citizens this way?

What is the point of an economy based on corporate capitalism that rewards a few inordinately, while leaving vast numbers to suffer in minimum-wage jobs which don't pay enough to live with dignity and leaving millions of Americans without real access to health care, even when they are desperately ill?

Where are the "family values" when it counts?

Ellen Robbins


Democrats stress ideology, not ability

The Senate Judiciary Committee's rejection of Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen's nomination to federal appeals court seat is nothing short of despicable ("Republican judicial nomination rejected," Sept. 6).

Sen. Tom Daschle's suggestion that Justice Owen is unqualified makes it crystal clear that he and other Senate Democrats favor the opinions of pro-abortion activist organizations who vilified Justice Owen as a right-wing ideologue over the opinion of the American Bar Association, which considered her "well-qualified" for the judicial post.

Scott Appelbaum


Stop Hussein, before it's too late

Many people have expressed opposition to our president's intention to topple the regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein with military force. However, no other viable solutions have been offered to deal with Iraq's growing threat.

Mr. Hussein's record shows his willingness to use lethal weapons against people he doesn't like. The Kurds' fate is just a foretaste of what could come.

Iraqi defectors confirm that Mr. Hussein is close to obtaining nuclear capability. Who will be his next target?

Ten years of economic sanctions have merely given Mr. Hussein time to develop weapons. Soon it will be too late.

James Bauernschmidt

Severna Park

No reason to enter a quagmire in Iraq

I see no reason for war with Iraq.

The war hawks and the Israeli lobby repeatedly tell us that Saddam Hussein must be removed because he has weapons of mass destruction.

If this is a reason for the United States to unilaterally attack Iraq, why not go after China, North Korea and Pakistan? They also have these weapons. And why is almost no other country supporting us?

We have sufficient troubles without completely alienating the entire Muslim world.

I pray that President Bush will not lead us into this quagmire.

Gerald F. Frey


A nation gripped by 'war fever'

I am chilled by the way the press has picked up the perspective of the administration on Iraq -- down to the elements of its language: We are going to "democratize the country" and "engage in nation-building," and other governments will support us "when they see we are right"?

Oh, please. The United States could not have been built by England or Nigeria or Iraq -- or anyone except Americans. And usually the way to help build a nation is not by dropping bombs on it.

I always wondered what people meant when they talked about "war fever" -- but this new language is part of it.

People get a fever when they are sick. The language is a symptom. We've gotten sick.

Cathryn Carroll


Offer incentives for using scanners

I have noticed a couple of articles in The Sun lately on the self-checkout scanners appearing at grocery stores ("Self-scanners move to head of grocery line," Sept. 3, and "Checking out do-it-yourself checkout line," Sept 5).

These articles have described how convenient and fun to use the scanners are. But I, for one, do not particularly embrace the use of these self-serve stations.

I'd rather have the person working the checkout line perform this service for me. I am not interested in doing that person's work.

However, if the store manager provides at least a 10 percent discount for the work I am doing, I may consider using the scanners.

Alan Warminski


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