Fallacies vitiate plan to use slots to fund schools

I am deeply distressed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposal seeking to allow thousands of slot machines to be installed in Maryland ("Mixed reactions to Ehrlich's I-95 slots plan," Jan. 28).

The governor and his allies would have us believe slots are a necessary means to an end - the only way the state can generate adequate revenues to fund public education and other needs. But this view contains dire fallacies.

First, gambling generates serious social problems that cost money to address, thus offsetting some of the potential revenue gains the governor seeks.

Second, the congested Interstate 95 corridor, along which new gambling palaces would be built, cannot readily accommodate more traffic; our quality of life is at stake here.

And third, relying on gambling to "purchase" the Thornton education plan is itself a huge gamble for many reasons, including the fact that there's no clear evidence that implementing Thornton would even bring about marked improvements in public education.

In sum, gambling is a bad bet, all around. We must find more socially constructive solutions to our fiscal problems.

Amy Bernstein


Gambling revenue beats new taxes, fees

The Sun's editorial "Hooked on slots" (Jan. 28) ended by saying, "The state should balance its budget without getting hooked on slots." But we currently have "sin" taxes on alcohol and cigarettes that contribute to balancing the state budget, not to mention the revenue from the lotteries. So why not allow slots and even Las Vegas-style gambling to help balance the budget?

I would rather see the extra revenue come from gambling than from increased taxes on gasoline or car purchases or higher auto registration fees.

And I favor letting the citizens decide the gambling issue through a statewide referendum.

Ron Wirsing

Havre de Grace

Speaker should stop obstructing Ehrlich

In the article "Busch rebuffs latest Ehrlich slots proposal" (Jan. 28), House Speaker Michael E. Busch states, "I think I'm trying to do the responsible thing. As big as those guys are, I don't think they are going to intimidate me."

The speaker seems to be rather paranoid about intimidation. But if gambling interests have threatened him, he should provide proof of his accusations and let the matter be investigated. Otherwise, he should stop posing as David against an invisible Goliath.

The speaker's time would be better spent studying the dire state of Maryland's finances. He should be intimately familiar with the disaster since he was present in the legislature for its creation.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., on the other hand, is an outsider who is attempting to fix a problem he did not create. He was elected precisely for that reason.

Perhaps the speaker could stop obstructing the governor long enough to consider that simple fact.

Marilee Mongello


The Scottish people aren't 'subservient'

As a Scotsman who is proud to call Baltimore home, I have to congratulate The Sun for its recent articles about Scotland. They have been well-written and informative. However, I found Todd Richissin's comment that "the Scottish have long been the underdog to England, subservient to them in almost every way" gratuitously offensive ("Calling on the Scottish lilt," Jan. 28).

I wonder on what basis he comes to this rather sweeping conclusion.

I don't know any person in or from Scotland who would consider himself or herself subservient to anybody, in particular the English.

Kenneth W. Lockie


U.S. inaction extends conflict, terrorism

Bravo for Thomas L. Friedman and his column "Stop the insanity of inaction on Israel" (Opinion Commentary, Jan 23). Finally, someone of prominence is clearly and loudly urging the United States to use its influence to bring the madness in Israel to an end.

As Mr. Friedman points out, U.S. inaction only perpetuates the conflict - and the bitterness it spreads throughout the Arab world.

A successful U.S. peacemaking effort not only would end this 54-year-old conflict and bring Israel the benefits Mr. Friedman discusses, it also would remove the single biggest irritant within the Arab world and the terrorist threat it has spawned.

Frank Smor


Malpractice suits don't improve care

The writer of a letter arguing against reform of the medical malpractice system writes, "The vast majority of plaintiffs have medical outcomes none of us would want for ourselves or our loved ones" ("Limiting damages punishes the victims," Jan. 25).

No doubt this is true. However, the overwhelming majority of bad medical outcomes are not the result of medical malpractice, despite what some trial lawyers would like us to believe.

While medical errors remain too common and a small fraction of doctors practice substandard medicine, most adverse medical outcomes are the result of severe and advanced diseases that are beyond the capacity of modern medicine to treat successfully.

The all-too-common attitude in our highly litigious society that bad medical outcomes usually mean malpractice for which someone must be made to pay serves only to enrich trial lawyers at the expense of the cost of health care and trust between doctors and patients.

Dr. Mark Haas


Dog owners had time to keep park clean

If dog walkers truly believe in a healthy Robert E. Lee Park, as suggested in the letter "Dog walkers helped reclaim neglected park" (Jan. 27), why is Baltimore City required to perform soil remediation to remove the contamination?

It would seem that dog owners have already demonstrated their lack of willingness to care for this area by its current condition, regardless of any pet-related bulletin boards, sponsored cleanup days or cleanup bags supplied.

Responsible dog owners and walkers should already be aware of their responsibilities to leash their dogs and thereby be present to remove their waste. These actions are required by law.

James Hejl


Real needs remain those here on Earth

President Bush's idea of going again to the moon and on to Mars is an ambitious idea for the future. But for the present we have many more important priorities to take care of - including rebuilding our water and sewage systems, which need constant repair because of repeated broken pipes.

Furthermore, the repair of our bridges and roads has been neglected. Aid to education is a constant problem. Universal medical coverage remains a dream to be achieved. Repayment of the huge public debt begs attention.

A trip to Mars would be a fine accomplishment. But there are more immediate needs to be taken care of here on Earth right now.

John Kozlowski


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