Letters to the Editor

The Baltimore Sun

Drug trade makes parts of city perilous

I think The Sun's article on the exploding murder rate in Baltimore makes an error when it suggests that the homicide rate makes the city the second-most-perilous in the nation ("Death on the streets," June 5).

Perilous to whom? And where?

My impression is that, statistically, if you buy drugs, sell drugs or are otherwise involved in that high-risk business, yes, city life is very perilous.

On the other hand, if you are not involved in that business, your chances of being killed or harmed are slim to none.

Of course, this excludes the innocent victims who find themselves in harm's way. These deaths are a total travesty, and one of the reasons we must eliminate the drug trade.

The Sun has a responsibility to inform readers that anywhere the drug trade prevails, it is dangerous.

On the other hand, where that trade does not prevail, the city is not so dangerous.

Only when The Sun makes the connection between drugs and murder will the people understand why we must eliminate the drug trade that is so rampant in certain isolated parts of the city and suburbs.

Could The Sun please tell us how many of the dead were involved in the drug trade?

Carl Hyman

Baltimore

Elicit new ideas to curb the killings

Baltimore's continuing struggle with its tragically high murder rate deserves new ideas and a different approach ("Death on the streets," June 5).

There must be someone who has studied different approaches to preventing and solving murders and can offer statistical evidence about what works and what does not work.

For instance, what would happen if the city offered $100,000 to anyone who first offered a tip that resulted in a conviction for every unsolved murder that took place in the city?

Would that have any effect on the culture of silence that makes so many homicides difficult to solve?

The Sun has reported that the city has a surplus this year; could there be any better use of that money than taking a huge bite out of the crime rate?

Stephen Sisson

Baltimore

Treatment can turn addicts' lives around

A recent letter that suggests drug treatment for addiction is ineffective is just wrong ("Repeat drug offenders belong behind bars," May 26).

National studies consistently have found that drug treatment is effective in reducing drug use and criminal behavior.

For instance, the National Treatment Improvement Evaluation Study, conducted between 1992 and 1997, followed 4,411 treatment clients.

It documented that one year following treatment, clients showed a 64 percent reduction in arrests for any crime. Drug-selling declined by 78 percent, and shoplifting declined by almost 82 percent.

The percentage of clients who supported themselves through illegal activity decreased by 48 percent.

Research also has shown that involuntary or court-mandated treatment works as well as voluntary treatment. Indeed, since the late 1980s, studies on coerced treatment have indicated that coerced clients begin treatment sooner and remain in it longer than those who enter treatment voluntarily.

Melody M. Heaps

Chicago

The writer is president of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities Inc.

The cost of deposing Hussein far too high

President Bush tells us often that the world is better off without Saddam Hussein ("As battle deepens, 14 troops die in Iraq," June 4).

Maybe. But here's what it has cost to depose him so far: the lives of almost 3,500 U.S. troops (mothers and fathers, wives and husbands, sons and daughters); more than 10,000 wounded (many missing arms, legs, faces); thousands upon thousands of Iraqis dead, wounded or displaced, many living under conditions far worse than before the invasion; al-Qaida now a major player in Iraq; Iran now a major player in the Middle East and going nuclear; and terrorists of every stripe pouring into Iran to learn their trade, making us less safe than before.

And all of this accomplished at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of billions upon billions of dollars, which could have been used to achieve wonderful things here at home (in health care, education, the environment, etc.).

John Gazurian

Baltimore

Bush isn't worthy of Carter comparison

Steve Chapman's comparison of President Bush to President Jimmy Carter is astonishing ("Not so different after all," Opinion

Commentary, June 4).

Mr. Chapman would have been better off simply noting that both men speak English and wear shoes.

By misleading us into the disastrous pre-emptive war in Iraq, with no good plan for either occupation or withdrawal, Mr. Bush has earned a uniquely shameful place in the lineup of American presidents.

But if we must make comparisons, it truly requires a fantastic leap of imagination to liken the president who presided over the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq with a president widely recognized as a champion of human rights.

Or to find similarity, as Mr. Chapman does, between Mr. Carter's failed attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran (American death toll: 8) and Mr. Bush's failure to successfully stabilize Iraq after a war we initiated (American death toll: 3,400-plus and counting).

Or to suggest, as Mr. Chapman does, that the loss of Soviet lives in Afghanistan during Mr. Carter's term belongs in the same category of presidential accountability as the ongoing loss of American lives in Afghanistan under Mr. Bush.

Martha Fitzpatrick Bishai

Riderwood

It takes a special obtuseness to compare the problems of the administration of Jimmy Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, to those of President Bush's administration.

Do even his most obdurate supporters imagine this president will ever win that prize?

Rachelle D. Hollander

Baltimore

Wage discrimination difficult to establish

There's much anger over the Supreme Court ruling that strictly limits the window of opportunity for workers to bring pay bias lawsuits ("Pay bias ruling puts profit before people," letters, June 3). But I can't join in the outrage.

Comparing pay from one worker to the next is difficult.

Even employees with the same job title often have different informal agreements with their employer.

For example, one might never be called for weekend work because of his or her family situation, while a fellow worker is frequently called upon to work unusual hours.

If the first worker is paid less than the second one, is he or she a victim of discrimination?

If so, another employer likely will eventually lure that worker away by offering him or her a salary closer to his true worth.

But if this first worker continues working for the same employer at the lower wage, the best bet is that he or she is a less-productive worker than his or her colleague.

Donald J. Boudreaux

Fairfax, Va.

The writer is chairman of the economics department at George Mason University.

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