LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Larger community must aid urban poor In her editorial notebook "A tale of two cities" (Nov. 3), Makeda S. Crane wrote of the relatives of young men dealing drugs in the inner city: "If enough of them chose to take on one nephew or one younger cousin who sees the corner as his only option, it would show that, yes, they - and we - really do care whether they live or die and, more important, that they are worth saving."

I believe that the close relatives of whom Ms. Crane writes do care. But there are serious and troubling questions about whether the greater extended family of these young men, the nation, also cares.

In the post-Ronald Reagan era, we relatives have created quite a challenging set of conditions for young people born in such areas.

We have cut funding for their preschool programs, provided them with underfunded and overcrowded schools and made deep cuts in all manner of support programs for their families. And now, even as our country enjoys extraordinary prosperity compared with previous generations and with our fellow citizens of the world, the majority of us cast our votes to preserve our riches and minimize taxation, and turn a blind eye to the needs of our brothers and sisters who don't share in the riches and who face overwhelming challenges.

And then there are the corporations. How do they manifest concern for their relatives?

They often pay the lowest wages possible, avoid paying health benefits where they can, outsource jobs overseas and dismantle pension plans.

It's a hard-edged world where the "needs" of wealthy stockholders are paramount and those who live near the street corners in Ms. Crane's narrative are abjectly ignored.

We have become all too willing to abandon our brothers in need. They need much more than an uncle who says, "Don't do the street life."

They need a family of countrymen willing to recognize and deal with their overwhelming obstacles and needs.

John Bonn

Towson

Decriminalization can curb drug woes

Jay Hancock is right on target regarding control of drug addiction ("Let Adam Smith be the drug pusher," Nov. 7).

Many of those who understand the drug problem have long advocated decriminalization, treatment and education as the ways to deal with drugs.

Unfortunately, there are many people in all walks of life who are reaping profits from the present system.

Unless we acknowledge that fact and take a page from some European countries' successes in decriminalizing, we'll be battling the drug lords forever.

M. Sigmund Shapiro

Baltimore

Kudos to Jay Hancock for his column "Let Adam Smith be the drug pusher."

If the politicians, our government and the governments of many other countries can't seem to solve the drug problem, let's give citizens a chance to choose a method that actually might work and decriminalize drugs.

It is more than obvious that nothing else has worked. So let's try decriminalization.

That way, we may save some of our children and addicts before more blood is shed and more lives are lost to the drug culture.

Cary Britt

Catonsville

Drug trade makes much larger impact

It's hard to know which columnist to praise more highly: Thomas F. Schaller for his column "Instead of responsible fiscal policy, they give us snack taxes" (Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 7) or Jay Hancock for "Let Adam Smith be the drug pusher" (Nov. 7).

The difference is that taxing snacks cannot compare with decriminalizing drugs in the effect it would have on Baltimore and the places around the world where narco-gangsters rule.

I look forward to a day when the idea of decriminalizing drug use will be mentioned in every article The Sun publishes about murder, HIV infection, homelessness and drug addiction in our city.

Susan Rose

Columbia

Real puzzle is why Ehrlich ever won

Like former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. himself, Richard J. Cross III, the writer of the column "A year later: Why Gov. Ehrlich lost" (Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 7), still doesn't get it.

The real question is not why Mr. Ehrlich lost in 2006 but why he won the governorship in the first place in 2002.

And that was largely because then-Mayor Martin O'Malley heeded the unwise advice of The Sun and others and didn't enter the 2002 gubernatorial race, leaving the field to the worst Democratic nominee in my lifetime, the hapless former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who, in turn, picked the worst lieutenant governor nominee.

Had just about any other Democrat been nominated - Rep. C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger, for instance - that nominee would have handily beaten Mr. Ehrlich in 2002.

Mr. Ehrlich lost in 2006 because he deserved to - just as Mr. O'Malley will deserve to lose three years from now if he doesn't take care of the current budget shortfall.

Blaine Taylor

Towson

External events sealed Ehrlich's fate

In regard to "A year later: Why Gov. Ehrlich lost" (Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 7) - It's the war, stupid.

Karl Pfrommer

Baltimore

It's time to require efforts to conserve

With the cost of oil approaching $100 a barrel and gasoline exceeding $3 a gallon, Gov. Martin O'Malley has the opportunity by executive order to take steps to reduce state expenses and increase revenue ("Oil passes $97 in N.Y.; gasoline rises to $3.02," Nov. 7).

How is this possible?

The first step would be to set the thermostat of all public buildings at 68 degrees and encourage all employees to wear warmer clothing. Private employers should be encouraged to do the same thing.

A second step would be a return to the conservation measures imposed during the energy crisis of the late 1970s. That would mean reducing the maximum highway speed to 55 miles per hour, which reduces gas use and saves lives.

The revenue generated by the speeding tickets for all those exceeding the 55 mph limit could also generate a revenue windfall for the state.

No special sessions of the legislature are required to save these energy costs and to get this extra revenue.

Phil Retchless

Baltimore

Flag pins say little about patriotism

I have become sick of all the finger-pointing surrounding the use of American flag lapel pins and who salutes and who doesn't.

I don't have a flag pin. Sometimes I wear a pink cancer pin on my lapel that my wife gave me when she was fighting breast cancer and I was her best supporter.

Sometimes I wear my Combat Infantry Badge lapel pin that I got in Vietnam. Sometimes I wear my Army Ranger lapel pin.

But I never have worn an American flag pin. Does this make me unpatriotic?

I hope that we have not come to the point that the symbol takes the place of the reality.

Michael Warner-Burke

Columbia

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