The Baltimore Sun

Insuring children really does pay off

As pediatricians, we see the human benefit of the State Children's Health Insurance Program every day for the patients and families who come to our clinics.

We were therefore dismayed to learn of the Bush administration's recent attempts to restrict the program ("U.S. rules threaten aid to children," Aug. 23).

Limiting eligibility for insurance and increasing waiting periods for care are barriers that prevent children from getting the health care they need.

Research has shown that SCHIP has increased children's health insurance coverage, improved children's health and reduced racial and ethnic disparities in access to health care.

Research has also shown that when children leave the program, they often become uninsured.

The Senate and the House have voted to strengthen SCHIP.

It is time to work collaboratively on reauthorization of the program, not to impose new bureaucratic restrictions.

Children are America's greatest resource; they deserve our investment.

Dr. Tina Cheng Baltimore

Dr. Daniel Levy Towson

The writers are, respectively, the director of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the president of the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Gas tax increase would take big toll

The article "O'Malley backs road funds" (Aug. 19) suggests that Gov. Martin O'Malley and state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller favor a gas tax increase.

Last year, Mr. Miller proposed a 12-cent-per-gallon increase to the gas tax and automatic tax increases as the gas price rises. Such an increase would make Maryland's gas tax one of the highest in the nation.

An increase to the gasoline tax would affect all life's necessities. Just think of all the items delivered by truck. Meat, produce, dairy products, clothing and just about everything else we use daily would increase in price.

This would have a definite effect on my finances.

I do not have an endless supply of money, and I cannot tax anyone to supplement my income. To balance my budget, I may have to cut spending.

I would appreciate some insight, from the governor and Mr. Miller, as to how I am to live and support myself when the state seems to be determined to tax me into poverty.

The governor and other state leaders talk of the projected budget shortfall and the need for road and mass transit projects and for aid to education as well as other programs.

But is the only answer to the state's problems to tax its citizens again and again?

Does anyone ever look for more ways to cut spending?

M. M. Gunning


Tax increase would help roads, save gas

I agree with the editorial "Keeping up" (Aug. 27), and I think there are many reasons it would be smart policy to increase the state's 23.5-cent-per-gallon fuel tax.

The funds are needed for new roads and for road and bridge repair. Our transportation system is aging, and we certainly don't want a bridge collapse like the one that recently occurred in Minnesota.

I am usually not in favor of increasing taxes; however, an increase in the gas tax is long overdue.

Such a tax increase would generate funds for transportation projects and, perhaps more important, could also encourage people to use less gas.

A fuel tax increase seems like a no-brainer to me.

Bill Simmons


Fans can condemn cruelty to animals

The coverage of Michael Vick often implies that there are two sides in the reaction to his behavior: football fans and dog lovers ("Vick pleads guilty, apologizes," Aug. 28).

In fact, one of The Sun's headlines suggested that Mr. Vick's future football career hinges on whether fans or dog lovers prevail ("Fans will forgive him, but animal lovers could be his undoing," Aug. 21).

But you don't have to be a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to recognize savagery when you see it. And dedicated fans can be sick at heart when a prominent player indulges in such brutality.

This sickening behavior is the opposite of what football is all about - talented, strong, confident men meeting as equals on the field of athletic battle.

Barbara McCord


Athletes who abuse women get a pass

There has been tremendous outrage about Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and the dogfighting scandal, and rightly so ("Vick pleads guilty, apologizes," Aug. 28).

Mr. Vick's actions were despicable, and he deserves the condemnation, career loss and even prison sentence he is likely to get for his crimes.

In a recent statement, Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association, said, "The practice of dogfighting is offensive and completely unacceptable."

It's too bad that the NFL does not show the same concern about violence against women.

Many professional football players have been convicted of domestic violence or sexual assault. But few players have ever been suspended for beating their wives or girlfriends.

Boxing, hockey, football and basketball are violent sports. It's little wonder that the violence can carry over to the private lives of athletes. But that is no excuse.

It's time for owners, coaches, sports administrators and even fans to make this clear: Violence to animals and to human beings will not be tolerated.

Mr. Vick's punishment and censure should be the benchmark for the sanctions that will be handed down to other abusive athletes in the future.

Paula Baranowski

Havre de Grace

Greater brutality gets less attention

As someone who dearly loves animals, I have been, like millions of others, quite angered and saddened by the Michael Vick case ("Vick pleads guilty, apologizes," Aug. 28).

But I am also disappointed that the same amount of outrage and anger is not visible against President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for their war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And that we do not see the same amount of indignation against our government for funding the illegal and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

And what about the inaction and apathy of the Bush administration regarding the ongoing plight of those who survived Hurricane Katrina?

Mr. Vick will go to jail.

Why are Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney not being tried for war crimes?

Brandy Baker


Vick forfeits claim to a starring role

Michael Vick has had too much press for the terrible dogfighting scandal in which he is embroiled ("Vick pleads guilty, apologizes," Aug. 28).

We should be remembering instead each dog maimed or murdered in the inhuman enterprise he fostered and supported.

Mr. Vick has squandered his right to be - or ever to return to being - a role model for anyone, or a celebrity player in any professional sport.

Edward S. Warfield


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