LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Democrats ignore will of the people

Early Sunday morning, the Democratic leaders of Maryland sneaked across the border of common sense and fiscal responsibility and invaded the wallets of hard-working families ("Compromise near on taxes," Nov. 11).

Leaving only a trail of higher taxes and fees, our elected representatives ignored the will of the people. At no point in Maryland history has this level of pillaging ever been achieved.

It is a sad day for representative democracy and fiscal responsibility.

Sneaking around in the shadows and making backroom deals, the Democratic leaders of Maryland have once again demonstrated that this great state is operating under a one-party system in which the views of the people are irrelevant and only those who control the purse strings matter.

John W. Bailey IV

Columbia

Another O'Malley promise is broken

In response to your article "O'Malley promise on taxes erased" (Nov. 13), this is not the first promise that Gov. Martin O'Malley has not kept. Remember the 72 percent Baltimore Gas and Electric rate increase?

It is a shame that politicians cannot spend within the means given them by the taxpayers.

Stanley Mason

Joppa

Emergency food aid should be priority

A provision of the farm bill before Congress that would guarantee at least $600 million in U.S. food aid for international development sounds noble, but it could devastate the very people it intends to help.

Contrary to the view espoused by Catholic Relief Services' Sean Callahan ("Take long-term approach to fighting global hunger," Oct. 31), extensive research shows that the best use of food aid from the U.S. is to feed people in emergencies, not to address chronic hunger and poverty, for which cash is the best resource. Indeed, the preference for cash is underscored by the overwhelming use of non-emergency food aid for a practice known as monetization - selling donated U.S. food on the open market in poor countries to generate cash for programs that fight poverty. Monetization is wasteful - projects routinely get only half of each taxpayer dollar spent - and the practice often upsets the local commercial markets on which poor farmers and consumers depend.

The proposed "guarantee" would necessarily expand food aid monetization. The main beneficiaries are not the poor, but a handful of shippers and large agribusiness corporations that profit from obscure government requirements that food aid must be shipped from the U.S., primarily on U.S.-flagged vessels, rather than purchased locally. Such rules result in 60 cents of every taxpayer food aid dollar going to non-food costs.

We can do better. Safeguard food aid for its best use: emergency response. And provide direct cash to support development programs run by CRS and others that demonstrably reduce chronic poverty and hunger and minimize vulnerability to disasters.

This better approach can help save more lives, cut waste and reduce vulnerability.

Christopher B. Barrett

Ithaca, N.Y.

The writer is a professor in the department of applied economics at Cornell University.

China can't easily abandon One Child

The consequences of China's One Child policy were described in detail by Michael Fragoso in "Surplus of sons means unstable future for China" (Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 7). He wrote about how abhorrent the policy is, but gave no thought to the consequences of abandoning it.

The One Child policy was established when the leadership of China realized that the population was overwhelming the country's natural resources. Now that China is prosperous, it can import huge amounts of food and other resources, and yet there has to be a limit to the number of human beings that can live in that country.

It would have been helpful if Mr. Fragoso had explained how China could cope with an explosion of population.

Carleton W. Brown

Elkton

Don't judge colleges on standardized tests

I am writing in response to the issue of higher-education assessments covered in the front-page article "Can colleges pass the test?" (Nov. 11).

I applaud the move to make information about college demographics, graduation rates, etc., more easily accessible. However, University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan's endorsement of standardized tests to provide information on the quality of the education students receive is not only misguided but also harmful. Standardized tests cannot capture the richness and depth of a college education. Research shows that standardized tests narrow the curriculum and undermine good teaching, especially when there are important consequences tied to the results.

In the plan being endorsed by Mr. Kirwan and others, the tests would have little, if any, stake for students. However, the consequences would be high for the colleges, as scores would be used as evidence of the quality of the education at a particular school. As institutions compete for students, public funding and donor support, there would be pressure to raise scores. When there are high-stakes consequences linked to test results, the evidence shows that teachers or schools will start "teaching to the test."

Colleges should be accountable for the quality of the education they offer students, but standardized exams are not the way to do it.

Peggy O'Neill

Baltimore

The writer is an associate professor at Loyola College.

Violent scene mars Everyman production

I too loved the Everyman Theatre's production of Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing ("Everyman gets serious with the Bard's comedy," Nov. 13). However, I was appalled at the physical violence during the wedding scene.

The Sun's reviewer called the action "alarmingly rough" and the play's "Achilles' heel." I found it far worse. There was nothing in the script to justify Claudio hitting his scorned bride Hero and throwing her to the ground. Shakespeare's words served the plot amply.

Depicting violence against women is not entertainment - it is dangerous.

Rosalind Ellis

Baltimore

Rodricks misses sanctity of Scripture

Dan Rodricks' column "Church loses sight of the big picture" (Nov. 11) was his reaction to a disciplinary action in the Baltimore Catholic diocese related to, among other things, allowing a non-priest to read the Gospel and allowing dogs in the sanctuary.

The column reflects little understanding of the reverence the church places on sacred Scripture. Every Sunday, the book of the words of God is held high in honor during the entrance procession. During Mass, the words of Jesus in the Gospels are read only by the priest whose consecration gives him the status of "alter Christi."

Each Mass is a remembrance of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the most sacred and solemn days in Christianity - no place for dogs.

It is precisely because of the big picture that the archbishop acted.

S. Wharam

Timonium

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