Full-time work offers best path out of poverty

In Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin's column opposing the Bush administration's plan to strengthen welfare, he made a number of statements that require correction and clarification ("GOP stifles states on welfare reform," Opinion Commentary, Jan. 30).

First, Mr. Cardin charges Republicans "no longer seem very interested in the goal of promoting state flexibility." To the contrary, the administration has proposed the most flexible approach in history through its ticket-to-independence initiative, commonly referred to as the "super waiver."

This unprecedented idea would allow states to combine a host of federal programs throughout five agencies into a single, seamless system of services to support low-income families. If Mr. Cardin cares about state flexibility, we would welcome his support for this provision.

Mr. Cardin also asserts that the president's proposal would "prevent states from using their welfare block grants to help legal immigrants." Actually, current law already prevents states from doing this.

Finally, Mr. Cardin criticizes the full-time work requirement proposed by the administration and under consideration in Congress. What he fails to acknowledge is that full-time work is the most effective way out of poverty.

Working full-time, even at low wages, combined with the Earned Income Tax Credit will ensure that most families escape not just the welfare rolls, but poverty as well.

If we care about reducing poverty, and not just the welfare rolls, the next phase of welfare reform must be about full-time, not part-time, work.

Wade F. Horn


The writer is assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Slots threaten Cylburn area, too

There is another community that will be impacted by slots at Pimlico Race Course. It is called Cylburn, and is bounded roughly by Northern Parkway, Greenspring Avenue, Woodland Avenue and Laurel Avenue. Predominately African-American, this community consists of modest, well-maintained homes and has been a very stable neighborhood for many years ("2 sides of track, 2 views of slots," Feb. 10).

Yet The Sun's attention is turned to Mount Washington, a predominantly white and relatively affluent area. The residents of Cylburn will suffer as much if not more from slots, because many will be less able to counteract the problems.

It has been painful to watch the deterioration of Park Heights over the years, but there is no reason to believe slots will do any more to reverse this situation than the presence of the track has done.

And the fact that slots are planned for a community that has already had a school and a library closed and that is reeling from numerous urban ills says a great deal about the mindset of state planners.

Norma E. Griner


Slots would damage both sides of track

Slots at Pimlico Race Course would have negative effects on both the Pimlico and Mount Washington neighborhoods ("2 sides of track, 2 views of slots," Feb. 10).

In Pimlico, add gamblers to a neighborhood that is already plagued with drug dealers and what do you get? More trouble.

In Mount Washington, one of the few good neighborhoods in the city, add a tremendous increase in traffic on Pimlico Road and Greenspring Avenue, plus, trash, gamblers, etc., 365 days a year, and you have reduced the quality of life.

Irene Gale


If we have a lottery, why not use slots?

The Sun's editorial "Just say no" (Feb. 9) said: "No amount of tweaking can fix the fundamental deficiencies of gambling as public policy."

Yet throughout this editorial there was no mention of the state lottery. Certainly, that is gambling. And I fail to see the difference.

Jane H. Wolf


City should enforce the death penalty

Yes, the right thing to do about the death penalty is "crystal clear" ("Extend the moratorium," editorial, Feb. 10). The only problem is, how do you force elected officials to do their job?

If Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy put the same value on the life of a child killed in a drug-related drive-by shooting as Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra O'Connor puts on a citizen killed by a robber, there would be no "racial or geographical" disparity in the use of the death penalty.

David Titus


The right to confront accusers is critical

I was very disturbed by the cavalier disregard that Michael Olesker's column "Prosecutors' discovery rule decisions may prove fatal" (Feb. 6) showed toward the U.S. Constitution.

Its Sixth Amendment guarantees the accused in criminal proceedings the right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him." This clause was not added capriciously; it's needed to protect citizens from the injustice of prosecution without live testimony from victims or witnesses to the crime.

Recent articles in The Sun have highlighted instances of innocent people convicted in Maryland courts based on faulty eyewitness testimony. Without the ability to investigate and confront witnesses, the justice system would be even less reliable than our current, imperfect system.

Charles Martin Fitzpatrick


North Korea poses the greater threat

Let's see if I have this right. North Korea kicked out inspectors, won't let anyone inspect their country for weapons, has declared it has weapons of mass destruction, started its nuclear power plants and suggested it might make a pre-emptive attack on the United States.

Iraq is allowing inspectors, says it has no weapons of mass destruction (and inspectors haven't found any after many months) and Iraq has made no announcement about attacking the United States.

But President Bush sees Iraq as the bigger threat. What am I missing?

B. A. Zalesky


Soup kitchen clients cause no imposition

I was dismayed by the letter "Loiterers impede access to library" (Feb. 7), which called for the prompt removal of Our Daily Bread's facility near the Enoch Pratt Library because the writer assumes people are offended by the men walking and standing nearby.

I am a 70-year-old woman who has used the library two or three times a week for close to 17 years and never once have I been bothered, offended or approached by any of these gentlemen. They do not offend my friends; they should not offend anyone else.

I take the opposite approach. I think everyone in the city and surrounding counties should visit Our Daily Bread and appreciate how difficult life can be when one cannot find an affordable living situation or a job.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Mary F. Hewes


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