The Baltimore Sun

Selling food aid funds relief work

Catholic Relief Services agrees that the practice of selling a portion of U.S. food aid to raise cash to fight poverty, a practice known as monetization, is inefficient ("A bold gesture," editorial, Aug. 21).

We wish we didn't have to sell food. But failing to do so would put at risk hundreds of thousands of people CRS serves in more than 15 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The money generated by selling food aid is used to fund agricultural development, primary health care, clean water and basic sanitation projects - programs that help people living in extreme poverty pull themselves up one notch and ensure a better future for their children.

The fact is that distributing food aid in a way that ensures real and sustainable results requires cash. And CRS is pushing legislators to make more cash available so that we won't have to sell food aid to support these important programs.

Although refusing to monetize food aid to raise the needed cash might encourage Congress to "forgo the tactic of disguising pork-barrel spending as humanitarian aid," it would undoubtedly cause immediate harm to vulnerable people.

And we do not intend to use the people we serve, who are the poorest of the poor, as a tool to lobby Congress.

Ken Hackett


The writer is president of Catholic Relief Services.

Baltimore is answer to BRAC questions

"Where are people going to go? Where are people going to move?" asked Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as he discussed issues related to the Base Realignment and Closure process at the Maryland Association of Counties meeting in Ocean City last week ("United front on BRAC favored," Aug. 18).

Mr. Ulman, along with officials from the state and other BRAC-affected counties, espouses a "united front" of regional cooperation to manage the coming BRAC-related invasion of highly paid government employees to Central Maryland.

Yet it seems to me that county officials often still show a parochial "me-first" attitude.

The officials from Howard, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Cecil counties all seem content with Baltimore remaining the hole in the doughnut of the BRAC region.

But all you have to do is look at a map and it becomes apparent that Baltimore is smack in the center of the BRAC universe.

All the suburban counties are bellyaching about infrastructure costs, sprawl, water and sewer needs. You name it and they complain about it.

But the infrastructural resources available in Baltimore are the perfect answer to all these problems.

The least state officials can and should do is to make clear that putting many new residents in Baltimore is the right answer to the BRAC questions.

This would get our biggest city back on the path to being the center of our universe in Maryland.

And isn't that what our biggest city should be?

Robert H. Kramer


O'Malley strums while budget burns

Gov. Martin O'Malley was recently seen strumming his guitar with a few members of his band, O'Malley's March, in Annapolis' Rams Head Tavern ("First down and out, then up to high society," Aug. 22).

We all appreciate that the governor has patterned his political aspirations after the successes of a variety of world-class political luminaries.

But considering the state's looming budget crisis, he's looking more like Nero than President John F. Kennedy.

Michael D. Rausa

Forest Hill

Vietnam no excuse for war without end

For the Bush administration, trying to sell its Iraq disaster is apparently more important than learning from its mistakes ("White House tries to reframe the war debate," Aug. 23).

Thus we are now treated to the spectacle of a president who avoided service in Vietnam using the U.S. withdrawal from that conflict to argue for perpetual war in Iraq.

It is clear that this administration, without even waiting to hear the results of Gen. David H. Petraeus' progress report, is willing to spill much more blood for its continuing failure.

The fact that Mr. Bush would use our withdrawal from Vietnam as evidence of a failure of nerve and suggest that America is to blame for the rise of Pol Pot in Cambodia with his reference to the "killing fields" that developed after our withdrawal from Southeast Asia, shows how desperate Mr. Bush is to stay the horrific course in Iraq, regardless of the facts.

David Schwartz


Funding priorities need real repair

Thomas Sowell makes a very good point that tax rates are not the same things as tax revenues ("The tragic implications of national tax and energy policy," Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 15).

And our problem is not the tax rate. The problem is how our tax revenue is being spent and the fact everyone in this country is not paying his or her fair share.

To understand why projects to support our infrastructure are not being adequately funded, one needs only to look at the things that are being funded: a costly, overextended war, tax breaks for huge corporations that outsource jobs, tax loopholes for the very wealthy, unnecessary pork barrel spending and so on.

What the government needs to do is change the tax laws to increase tax revenues, not necessarily the tax rate.

Those who pay all the taxes they legitimately owe are already overstretched.

Instead, the government needs to restructure how corporations pay taxes and to make clear that they must pay a reasonable percentage of their profits to help the country offset its rising costs and contribute to rebuilding our infrastructure.

Barbara McNamara


Do white people resemble Spam?

I was unable to read much past the third paragraph of reporter Stephanie Shapiro's vilification of Spam ("The Great Debate," Aug. 22).

I have no great love for the stuff myself, but the line that stopped me dead was this one: "For one, Spam was the color of the 1950s: preternaturally pink, a slightly speckled flesh tone shared by Caucasians and pigs."

Did Ms. Shapiro mean to be offensive by comparing Spam to both white people and pigs?

I look down at my own "white" skin, and I see nothing resembling Spam. But I don't appreciate having my complexion likened to the color of pigs and canned meat.

Can you imagine the outcry if The Sun had compared the skin tones of African-Americans, pigs and Spam?

Paula Gallagher


Somewhere Wild Bill must have had a fit

After the Orioles 30-3 whipping by Texas ("An ugly game at Camden Yards," Aug. 23), I could only imagine, somewhere behind those pearly gates, Wild Bill Hagy wiping the foamy residue of a cold Budweiser from his bushy face, swinging his plastic cooler over his head and heaving it out into the ball field - again ("Thanks, Wild Bill, for the memories," Aug. 23).

Michael Ziegler


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