LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Let horse racing sink or swim on its own

I believe Christopher B. Summers of the Maryland Public Policy Institute is correct in suggesting that the legalization of slots and any subsidies to the horse racing industry from the state ought to be treated as separate issues ("Report makes case for Md. slots," Aug. 15).

Whether the state needs slots to raise the revenue to meet our public needs is one thing. Whether we need the horse racing industry is another.

Public necessities of life include reasonably priced food, housing, health care and utilities (among such other things as excellent public schools). They do not include horse racing.

Racing serves as a source of revenue for some private entrepreneurs and of entertainment for some other people.

But the Maryland economy is, I would suggest, strong enough that it can get by very well without that particular private enterprise.

Let's let racing sink or swim on its own.

And my position on the use of slots to raise revenue is that we should allow slots only in jurisdictions that vote to approve them in a referendum and also require that the slots be totally publicly owned and operated and that any profits they generate must be used only to pay for the kind of public necessities I mentioned above.

Otherwise, I'd favor raising needed revenue in other ways such as closing tax loopholes and increasing the state's income tax rate for those on the high end of the income scale.

Kenneth A. Stevens

Savage

Slots can't generate interest in racing

I fail to understand how slot machines at race tracks will do anything to help the racing industry in Maryland ("Report makes case for Md. slots," Aug. 15).

Certainly, slots would increase revenue for the state, and I am a proponent of keeping the money spent on slots from crossing into neighboring states. But the argument that horse racing cannot survive without slots is specious.

Let's be honest: What slots would do is make a lot of special interests very rich while adding substantial (and sorely needed) revenue to the state treasury.

But I have been to Delaware and West Virginia race tracks several times and have observed that the people playing the slots couldn't care less about the racing going on.

Studies have shown that the infusion of slot machines has done little to benefit horse racing itself.

Voters should decide the slots issue on its own merits, not think of slots as a panacea for the ailing racing industry.

Arnold Paskoff

Baltimore

Lack of slots costs this state millions

It doesn't take Albert Einstein to realize that Maryland is losing millions in potential revenue to neighboring states because it doesn't allow slots gambling at its race tracks ("Report makes case for Md. slots," Aug. 15).

People like to have fun, and slots are only a relatively short drive away for those who wish to try their luck.

As Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller stated, state Labor, Licensing and Regulation Secretary Thomas E. Perez has "compiled a very objective report to the governor, and the statistics indicate that we missed the boat five years ago and continue to do so."

And I guess we will likely continue to do so, largely as a result of the efforts of anti-slots activists such as Aaron Meisner, who said of the state's report: "This is just the latest pulling numbers out of the hat exercise, but there are no new arguments here and no solutions to the real issues."

One needs only to read about the Prohibition era to learn about the harm that is done when such activists impose their views on others.

George F. Spicka

Baltimore

School jargon just confuses parents

It has been a long time since my children were in school, but I see that education jargon is still alive and well and as unintelligible to the layman as ever ("System charts pupil progress," Aug. 11).

The new pupil progress reporting system in Baltimore County seemed quite helpful to parents until I read the sample of it published in the article. Then, I was stumped.

Maybe using standard English might help make algebra, as well as other subjects, less mysterious to parents and students.

Bert Booth

Towson

Accept the defeat we've earned in Iraq

Americans with moral sensitivities need to demand our rights. And we have every right to lose the war in Iraq ("Troop pullback foreseen in Petraeus status report," Aug. 15).

We have a right and a solemn duty to confess that the war and occupation have been a disaster. This humiliating loss is nothing less than we deserve and no one should try to deprive us of it.

Our leaders and accomplices have exceeded all expectations in exposing us to obloquy - through lies, deceptions, disinformation, bullying, torture, corruption, incompetence and our pathetic destruction of an ancient civilization that had done us no harm.

And what was the intent of this homicidal assault on the law of nations and on innocent bystanders?

It was to satisfy our imperial hubris and greed for Middle Eastern oil.

This war has betrayed our democracy, our Constitution, the Iraqi people and the Geneva Conventions. In all decency we need to repent of our crimes and depart Iraq in shame.

A Congress with a shred of moral sensitivity would have long since cut off the funding for the occupation and declared defeat.

Only when we confess our national disgrace and try the top members of the Bush-Cheney administration for war crimes will we begin to atone for this stupidity and win back the respect of other nations.

Nicholas J. Carroll

Crofton

Rail express service is hardly a scandal

As a longtime rail buff and National Railway Historical Society member, I must take issue with The Sun's article on the Acela Express trains bypassing Baltimore ("Next stop ... well, it's not here," Aug. 13).

The article paints Amtrak as wrong for offering this express service. But I think there's a flaw in the reasoning here.

The Maryland Transit Administration offers express bus service - is that wrong?

The MARC train service offers express commuter trains - is that wrong is as well?

How about airlines that offer nonstop air service between cities? Is that wrong, too?

I have read The Sun for 40-plus years, and I can only assume that its staff decided to make a mountain out of a molehill because of a lack of news this week.

Daniel E. Withey

Parkville

Government exists to meet public needs

The writer of the letter "Tax hikes wrong way to solve the shortfall" (Aug. 5) argues that "Less state spending is the answer," then notes, "When private industry does not meet its financial obligations, it cuts staff, services, products, salaries."

But the writer seems to have forgotten that a business exists to make a profit for its owners and investors; government exists solely to serve the people - whatever that costs.

Harry E. Bennett Jr.

Baltimore

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