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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

The Baltimore Sun

Rebates won't cure what ails economy

Here we go again. We are in the midst of an economic meltdown, and our Washington leaders' solution is to throw a few hundred dollars of tax rebates back to the citizens ("U.S. leaders talk rebates, incentives," Jan. 23). Now there will be weeks of argument, all tailored for political advantage, over who should get what.

Instead, let's do some serious things for our economy:

Reform or eliminate the alternative minimum tax.

Raise the tax-free ceiling on long-term capital gains and investment income at least up to a level at which there would be more people who can afford to buy into American industry.

Offer huge incentives to businesses that have moved their manufacturing offshore and to new businesses to renew or create manufacturing jobs in the United States.

Heavily tax or ban foreign imports, particularly goods manufactured in states that use what almost amounts to slave labor.

I think we have an opportunity to bring jobs back to America, salvage our economy and improve our future for the long term. But the clowns in Washington need to act fast.

If they can't do that, can they at least get me my tax rebate before the Super Bowl?

Colin Lewis

Towson

Stimulus plans only add to our deficit

Reading The Sun's article "U.S. leaders talk rebates, incentives" (Jan. 23), all I could think was: This is unbelievable; here they go again.

The stock market goes down and right away our politicians want to throw money at the problem. They think that tax rebates and business incentives are the solution.

But there's one thing they don't seem to realize - at some point, someone is going to have to pay the piper.

At some point, the taxpayers are going to have to pay this money back, with interest.

The U.S. deficit is already way too big. But no one seems to be concerned about that.

Bill Simmons

Baltimore

City's youth culture impedes learning

Not only is the scheme to pay Baltimore public school students to pass state graduation exams patently ridiculous, it is paternalistic and demeaning ("Board divided over pay plan," Jan. 24).

The reason so many city kids don't pass the High School Assessments is that they do not care. Educational achievement is not a part of their value system. That is the problem.

Paying kids to pass sends a message that the school system and politicians care more about kids passing than the kids do.

That's the problem. And throwing money at it will not solve it.

The existing culture among city youths has to change.

Dennis Sirman

Selbyville, Del.

The writer is a retired teacher and administrator for the Baltimore County public schools.

Kids who can pass deserve no reward

Apparently we have students in Baltimore high schools who are failing. And there's a plan to pay them to pass the graduation exams ("Board divided over pay plan," Jan. 24).

If that works, then the students are capable of passing.

If they're capable of passing the exams, but they're failing, and simply paying them to study and pass results in their passing, they shouldn't be paid for passing.

They should be disciplined for failing.

Bill Scanlon

Ellicott City

Let lobbyists wait until session is over

The Latin phrase "quid pro quo" can be translated as "something for something." This principle is, unfortunately, well-known to our state legislators ("Officials received funds in session," Jan. 20).

The mere implication of impropriety should have prompted lawmakers to put a freeze on fundraising during the special session that raised taxes across the state.

On behalf of those of us who believe in good government, I'd ask our legislature (and governor) to please save us this type of embarrassment in the future and tell those with the checkbooks to wait until the bills are off the table.

Tom Coale

Columbia

Factory farms ruin efforts to save bay

In reading about Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposals in his State of the State address, the one area that caught my attention was his remarks regarding the health of the bay ("Governor presents a modest wish list," Jan 24).

And in the same Sun, I read a column by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Howard Ernst that focused on the damage to the bay from factory farming ("Maryland's dirty secrets," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 24).

How much more money are we going to invest in trying to clean up the bay when Maryland's chicken industry continues to use it for what Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Ernst call its "personal dumping ground for illicit and harmful wastes"?

Our politicians have been talking for years about cleaning up the bay and spending millions of our dollars for this purpose.

How can they succeed unless Maryland's commercial chicken industry stops this unlawful dumping?

And why doesn't the state enforce the Clean Water Act before our bay wastes away?

R. J. Kuchta

Perry Hall

Immunity for spying simply a travesty

The notion that Vice President Dick Cheney even cares about the rule of law is laughable considering the Bush administration's depredations of the Constitution over the last seven years ("Expand surveillance law, Cheney says," Jan. 24).

What is no laughing matter, however, is that the Senate seems willing to go along with an expansion of the ability of the government to spy on citizens with little or no review.

The fact that the Senate is even considering retroactive immunity from lawsuits for companies that knowingly violated laws regarding surveillance is a travesty.

David Schwartz

Baltimore

Registrations reflect the failures of GOP

It should surprise no one that Maryland citizens are lining up in droves to register for the Democratic Party ("GOP numbers falter," Jan. 21). I suspect that this has less to do with the desire to become a registered Democrat than with the desire not to be a Republican.

For seven years now, citizens have had to witness their country being thrown off a cliff on a daily basis.

The Republican Party has proved itself adept at getting elected, but strikingly unfit to govern.

Because of this, our wealth and political standing in the world have been squandered on a senseless and misdirected war as spending and corruption went through the roof under a Republican-controlled Congress.

The very Constitution of the country has been dismantled by neoconservative extremists who sought to give the White House absolute power.

The need to move this country back to the political center and repair the damage done by years of utter incompetence is dire, and it is refreshing to see that most people understand.

Doug Ebbert

Bel Air

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