LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

O'Malley steals page from GOP playbook

Thomas F. Schaller's column on slots in Maryland made many sound points, but it overlooked one central issue ("Amid competing agendas, slots just not worth it," Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 22).

The modern Republican Party has learned a simple trick as its passport to political power: It pretends that citizens do not have to pay the taxes required to support the government services they desire.

It does this primarily by cutting taxes below the level needed to support the existing level of public spending and deferring the resulting debt to future generations.

Another variation of the trick is to raise revenue in forms that don't look like taxes. Hence the modern industry of government-sponsored gambling.

Rather than raising taxes honestly and openly to pay our collective bills, Republicans have sponsored the dishonest belief that there is an economic free lunch - that we can somehow evade the responsibility to pay our bills through our taxes.

It was thus no surprise that, when the Republicans were in power in Maryland under former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., slots were a central part of the governor's strategy for paying for government.

And it is now surely a disappointment to find a progressive Democratic governor taking his direction from the Republican playbook.

We booted out the Republican governor in 2006 in part because of his party's demonstrable failures of governance.

And pretending we can have government without paying the taxes to fund it, is the most fundamental form of mis-governance.

Slots are merely a disguised form of this same, irresponsible approach.

If we want to restore fiscal balance to Maryland, we should either cut spending, raise taxes or do some of both.

Pretending that there is some painless alternative is a gesture worthy of a Republican.

Larry DeWitt

Baltimore

Ask real questions about state budget

After hearing the usual silly arguments for slots about saving a few jobs in the horse racing industry and keeping a few gambling dollars from going out of the state, Thomas F. Schaller's comments were a breath of fresh air ("Amid competing agendas, slots just not worth it," Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 22).

We're always hearing about problems with the state budget and politicians are always looking for easy answers to placate voters. As a result, they never address the real questions.

As Mr. Schaller points out, the only real questions are: What areas should government really be involved in and how do we raise the money to pay for those governmental activities? (Hint: The answer is taxes.)

The entire argument for slots is a smokescreen to avoid asking (or, even worse, having to answer) those two questions.

If our elected officials would concentrate on those two questions, slots would become a non-issue.

Tim Sharpe

Smithsburg

2007: the final year for our democracy?

Reading The Sun's editorial "Sky snoops" (Aug. 19) after reading about the new law that will allow warrantless wiretapping ("Bush signs expanded wiretap bill," Aug. 6) made me realize that 2007 could become the year democracy dies in America.

The greatest threat to our government is not Osama bin Laden but the Bush White House.

The domestic "war on terror" is actually a "war on our democracy."

The Bush administration has run a two-front war against the American people - by violating our Fourth Amendment privacy rights through warrantless wiretaps and massive spying on U.S. citizens, while simultaneously dismantling the Constitution through a series of executive orders, legislation and signing statements.

The Bush administration needs to be stopped now.

And Americans have a responsibility to demand that Congress defend and restore our Constitution - while we still retain the power to do so.

Richard L. Ottenheimer

Pikesville

'Love thy neighbor' real liberal precept

In an astonishing display of cynicism, Jonah Goldberg identifies the impetus behind liberalism as the sin of envy ("Envy: the most underrated sin and maybe the most consequential," Opinion

Commentary, Aug. 21).

Although he seems to be familiar with the deadly sins, Mr. Goldberg has surely overlooked the ancient commandment "to love thy neighbor as thyself," which may be the real source of liberalism.

Howard Long

York, Pa.

Salt takes a toll on our aquifers

I read with interest the article "45 of 57 well tests indicate bacteria" (Aug. 22) and I wondered whether the wells in the New Market area were tested for salt as well as bacteria.

My 12-year-old well, which is adjacent to the Loch Raven Reservoir, recently became so contaminated with salt that I had to dig a new well to try to find better water.

Since salt does not occur naturally in groundwater, the run-off from using salt to de-ice our streets must be to blame.

After talking to many people who have had to dig new wells, I've learned that salt is a problem for people using wells.

Like every driver, I appreciate being able to drive on winter roads. But now I wonder about the impact of the salt that makes that possible on the environment.

The tons of salt we put on the roads must be washing into our streams and reservoirs and ultimately contaminating our underground aquifers.

My new 460-feet-deep well still has some salt. But, thankfully, not very much.

Monica Kelly

Towson

It's wrong to label animal lovers 'rabid'

Reading The Sun this week with eager anticipation to learn the latest about Michael Vick, I found that one of the paper's sportswriters, Rick Maese, had referred to us animal lovers as a "rabid sect" ("Falcons star's best play would be heavy remorse," Aug. 21).

I was appalled by this characterization. I am an animal lover but also a human being who deeply reveres all creatures on this Earth. And I believe that they should be treated with compassion - not tortured, abused or exploited for our pleasure or entertainment.

Do Sun columnists intentionally try to alienate people?

Words are very powerful, and should be chosen with care.

Dixie Speare

Baltimore

Wikipedia isn't a partisan tool

I read with interest the article "Wikipedia editors exposed" (Aug. 19), which recounted how some people have been editing the information available on Wikipedia.

For example, one person changed a page about President Bush to make the text repeat the word "jerk" 11 times.

The Wikipedia site is intended to be used for information, not opinions.

We need more people like Virgil Griffith, the designer of the new system which tracks those who edit Wikipedia entries, to help expose editors who attempt to use Wikipedia for their own purposes.

Dan Warren

Baltimore

The writer will be a seventh-grader at Friends School of Baltimore this year.

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