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The Baltimore Sun

Improve efficiency to fill deficit hole

Andrew A. Green's article "The Deficit Game" (Aug. 26) was very informative and helped readers understand the various proposals to meet the state budget deficit through tax increases.

But if Maryland must fill the deficit hole by increasing taxes, let's start by trying to make that hole smaller.

For years, manufacturers have practiced the principles of lean manufacturing to deal with rapidly escalating costs.

The cost savings and improved customer service in the manufacturing supply chain have been astonishing.

Lean practices reduce waste, increase efficiency and improve customer service.

Public sector agencies should grab hold of lean production approaches and engage all workers in changing their organizational culture.

This would require new and innovative thinking along with leadership that trusts workers to solve problems.

The deficit hole can be made smaller if public agencies adopt more efficient practices.

This really is an ethical issue because government can serve more people at lower cost by embracing lean practices.

Maryland manufacturers have learned how to do this and would be happy to show state leaders how it can be done.

Mike Galiazzo


The writer is executive director of the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland.

Expand the sales tax to fund state's needs

Let's cut spending first to deal with the state deficit ("The Deficit Game," Aug. 26).

Yes, I know no politician or bureaucrat likes that answer.

But there certainly are unexamined state expenditures that have been allowed to go on and on for years, with marginal value, that could be removed from the state budget.

Tough decisions and tougher actions are owed to Marylanders before more taxes are simply placed on top of us.

Then, the state should eliminate all taxes except the sales tax. No more real estate tax. No more income tax. No more, no more. Radical? I think not.

Just start including the services we buy along with tangible goods in the sales tax and see how rapidly the sales tax receipts grow. What if cosmetic surgery were taxed? What if massages and exercise classes carried a sales tax? What about my haircut?

Let's not penalize people for making and saving money, but let our choices of our purchases be the measure of our taxation.

That way, we could easily reduce the government payroll, because the collection system for the sales tax is pretty darn efficient.

Harvey W. Cohen

Owings Mills

Rich state can afford greater tax burden

With Maryland now the richest state in the country, I can't understand why citizens have such an aversion to helping the needy by paying more taxes ("Maryland is ranked as richest state," Aug. 29).

Even increasing taxes by a tiny fraction would raise a significant amount of state revenue. And there clearly are a large number of people in the state earning a decent income, even as a significant minority live in poverty and lack health insurance.

We should do the right thing and take advantage of our prosperity to help our fellow citizens who need a safety net.

Slot machines are not the answer to our fiscal problems.

Instead, let's all dig a little deeper to pay for the things we value, including health care and education. They are worthwhile investments for the wealthiest state in the union.

Aimee Darrow


Bush is responsible for Gonzales' failure

It is easy to cast aspersions on outgoing Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales - indeed, he invites them ("Securing justice," editorial, Aug. 28). But let's not forget that he failed only because he was given the opportunity to do so by President Bush.

It is the president who hired the wrong person for the job, sat idly by while he foundered, and then defended to the last his friend's ineptitude by claiming that Mr. Gonzales was a victim of partisan politics.

It is the president who once again chose loyalty over competence, with disastrous results for the nation.

Robert J. Inlow

Charlottesville, Va.

Attacks on Gonzales just partisan circus

The circus around Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales shows how perverse the Democratic Congress and The Sun have become ("Senators urge Bush to select unifier to succeed Gonzales," Aug. 30).

Here we have an attorney general who, admittedly, fumbled about at times answering searing questions from a probing Congress about why eight U.S. attorneys had been fired. For this, he was deemed incompetent and told he must leave by certain members of Congress and The Sun ("Securing justice," editorial, Aug. 28).

One wonders what would have happened if Mr. Gonzales had been personally responsible for the deaths of dozens of U.S. citizens on American soil.

Well, we know the answer: He would have stayed in office - just as Attorney General Janet Reno did after the fiasco at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas.

Michael Walsh


Is Army condoning Abu Ghraib abuses?

I read with interest the article about the ruling in the trial of Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, in which "a military jury recommended a reprimand yesterday for the only officer court-martialed in the Abu Ghraib scandal" ("No time in prison for Jordan," Aug. 30).

The article later revealed that the jury consisted of nine colonels and one brigadier general.

Now that is a true case of the fox guarding the henhouse.

John P. Kimball


Court right to review Terrapin Run plans

The Maryland Court of Appeals recently announced it would review the exception the Allegany County Zoning Board granted to the county's 2002 comprehensive plan to allow developers to build a 4,300-unit development called Terrapin Run in the forestry and conservation district of eastern Allegany County ("Maryland Court of Appeals to hear development lawsuit," Aug. 25).

The issue here is the conformity, consistency and compatibility of this planned development with the county's master plan.

This judicial review comes as a great relief to those who oppose the development, particularly because the county commissioners agreed in July, at the developer's request, to include at least a smaller version of the development in Allegany County's 2007 Master Water and Sewer Plan.

The county's plan allows 920 units to be part of the sewer plan at this time, which has been praised as a compromise. But even a curtailed development would not avoid irreversible damage to the area's environment.

And it turns out that may be no compromise, as the developer still intends to pursue building all 4,300 units.

Thus unless the exception allowing building in the agricultural and forestry zone district is struck down in court, the compromise may be no more than the first act of a tragedy.

Jeanne Dollinger


The writer is a member of the Allegany County chapter of Citizens for Smart Growth.

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