The Baltimore Sun

War wastes funds as our bridges age

My heart goes out to the families of the victims of Minneapolis' tragic bridge collapse ("Deadly Collapse," Aug. 2).

According to engineers, there are nearly 150,000 more bridges in the United States which are experiencing various degrees of structural deterioration, mainly as a result of age and the unforeseen increases in traffic stress being placed on them.

A recent report from the Federal Highway Administration estimates that it would cost us $188 billion to repair and rehabilitate all the structurally deficient and functionally obsolete bridges in the country.

But that money can't be found because we are mired in a ridiculously costly war in Iraq which, according to some projections, may ultimately cost the taxpayers more than $1 trillion.

The horrible incident in Minneapolis highlights the fact that our tax dollars are being misspent on this futile war, which was launched ostensibly to protect the American people, even as many needed infrastructure repairs have been deferred because of lack of funds.

Steve Charing


War spending defies will of the people

The Sun's editorial "Warning from Minneapolis" (Aug. 3) quotes the American Society of Civil Engineers' calculation that that this country would have to spend $9.4 billion a year for 20 years to eliminate all our bridge deficiencies.

The National Priorities Project now estimates U.S. taxpayers will have spent $456 billion on the war in Iraq by the end of September 2007, even as our infrastructure at home falls apart.

On President Bush's watch, we have seen bursting levees and collapsed bridges while the president continues a war he started under a false pretext.

One component of the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union was the financial strain it suffered because it spent too much on its military. Why should we imagine that the fate of the United States should be any different?

Our Founding Fathers feared tyranny and power run amok without regard for the will of the people.

I am afraid that just such a despotic regime currently rules us from the White House.

Elizabeth Keeling Carter


Iraqi parliament just emulates our own

I found The Sun's editorial cartoon demeaning the Iraqi parliament for taking a month-long vacation in August ("Another View," Aug. 2) quite ironic and yet well-timed, as it appeared just as the U.S. Congress was also preparing for a month-long August vacation.

One of our stated goals for going to war in Iraq and then occupying that country was to bring American-style democracy to Iraq.

So how can the cartoonist criticize the Iraqis for emulating the U.S. Congress that authorized the war and continues to spend billions a week to support it?

David Gosey


Let charter schools find funds formula

The Sun's Aug. 1 editorial advice to the city school system was disappointing ("Doing the math," Aug. 1).

The City Neighbors Charter School and other charter schools have long tried to work with the school system. The system has instead picked litigation over conversation.

I believe that this Court of Appeals decision creates a new opportunity to move forward, with the charter schools working together with new city schools CEO Andres Alonso and his new administration.

The City Neighbors School asks Mr. Alonso to reject what has for too long been a business-as-usual approach by the system and instead allow the charter schools to be part of finding a funding solution that is right for all the city's public school students.

William DuBois


The writer is legal counsel for City Neighbors Charter School.

Shielding neighbors not racist sentiment

While there is no doubt that African-American men are sometimes subject to unjustified suspicion, I think retired Judge Kenneth Lavon Johnson went overboard regarding his recent experience visiting a family member in Atlanta ("Black man's burden still hard to bear," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 2).

While standing outside his relative's home and looking around, Judge Johnson says he was approached by a young white woman who inquired about the reason he was on her neighbor's property.

Judge Johnson thought her questions were racially motivated and wrote that she thought he was "looking for an opportunity to rape and rob her, or worse."

Putting aside his dubious claim of clairvoyance about her motives and the fact that the woman would hardly have engaged a potential rapist in conversation, Judge Johnson overlooks something else: In this day and age, neighbors often do not take the time to know one another and too many look the other way when something out of place is occurring.

If a stranger is lingering on my property with no apparent purpose, I would welcome a neighbor inquiring into the matter.

The young woman obviously accepted Judge Johnson's explanation, did not call the police and moved on.

In today's world, the concern she showed for her neighbor should be commended, not disparaged as a form of racism.

John B. Sinclair


Corruption also part of private enterprise

Thomas Sowell seems to be saying that there is some automatic, inevitable connection between politics and corruption ("A history lesson from the prince of darkness," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 1).

Certainly the two are often associated -- but corruption is also often a part of private enterprise.

Perhaps we need a Robert Novak to uncover all the "princes of darkness" in business and commerce (and he or she could start with Enron).

The reality is that honest and well-intentioned people can serve society either in public service or private enterprise, while corrupt and self-centered people can harm society in either sphere.

Elizabeth Fixsen


We need health care everyone can afford

In a country where the right to freedom and opportunity are esteemed national values, I would think that the ability to receive health care would also be one of our rights.

But after working as a nurse for more than 30 years, I have come to realize that many people in this country do not get the health care they need because they cannot afford it ("How can anyone oppose health care for children?" Opinion * Commentary, July 30).

The insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies have controlled and regulated health care much too long and their profits have soared.

Yet more and more people find themselves having to choose between medical care and basic sustenance.

I fully support House Resolution 676, which would guarantee health care on the single-payer model to every American through an expanded and improved Medicare system.

This important change in our health care system would truly make a difference for our current citizens, our children and our future children.

Elaine Bundy

Bel Air

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