The Baltimore Sun

Asking why we tax isn't right question

There are three things certain in life - death, taxes and The Sun's editorial pages coming to the rescue of Gov. Martin O'Malley whenever he finds himself in hot water.

Not surprisingly, The Sun agrees with the claims of Mr. O'Malley that the structural deficit had to be addressed and that without new taxes, "essential government services" would have a "grim" outlook ("Why we tax," editorial, Jan. 24). Both claims are without merit.

As to the first argument, only relatively nominal cuts in the budget were made by Mr. O'Malley, such as the elimination of jobs that were not even occupied. Truly meaningful budget cuts were either dismissed or ignored.

As to the second argument, the favorite tactic of liberals is to proclaim that any government spending reduction will result in the end of politically popular programs.

This relieves government from the responsibility of trying to manage efficiently or to re-examine waste and redundancies in bureaucracies.

The Sun believes it is simply a matter of explaining the deficit reduction package to the public and displeasure with the special session will disappear.

However, the public well understands what happened, and no amount of "explanations" will make it appear any better.

Simply put, with higher gas prices, energy bills and the threat of a recession, the last thing that working families need is higher taxes.

The question that needs to be answered is not why we tax but why we spend.

Robert C. Erlandson


A good explanation for tax complainers

Thank you very much for the concise explanation of the state's fiscal situation in "Why we tax" (editorial, Jan. 24).

I have heard so many people bitterly condemn Democrats, politicians, bureaucrats, you, me and everybody else - but not themselves - for taxes.

So now those deep-thinking complainers can read the real reasons that we, in a civilized society, need to jointly fund our public lives.

Please keep up the good work.

Don Friedmann

Owings Mills

With right penalties, speed cameras work

I disagree wholeheartedly with the writer of the letter "Cameras won't slow speeding motorists" (Jan. 20).

In my opinion, seeing a speed camera would definitely have an effect on speeding - if the tickets issued by the speed cameras resulted in a costly fine and points on a person's driving record, thereby raising that driver's insurance cost.

And if you are not a violator, you should have no concern about speed cameras.

John Sachs


Is closing Rosewood real estate windfall?

As Gov. Martin O'Malley pats himself on the back for the decision to close the Rosewood Center, citizens should not be fooled into thinking the decision has anything to do with the welfare of the residents of Rosewood.

It has everything to do with money and greed - not over the money it would cost to upgrade Rosewood's facilities but over the money the state can get by selling its prime 300-acre site in Owings Mills.

Robert Schwartz

Owings Mills

Turn Rosewood land into memorial park

The Rosewood Center was founded in 1888 as an institution for the mentally handicapped. Since that time, thousands of people have gone through the institution ("Life outside Rosewood's walls," Jan. 22). While Rosewood was set up for what people felt were the right reasons, it often greatly failed those it was supposed to serve. Thousands died prematurely in horrific conditions at Rosewood.

Gov. Martin O'Malley recently announced that the facility will be closed, which will leave more than 300 acres of valuable land open in Owings Mills.

A few years ago, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore purchased 55 acres of the Rosewood site to develop. It is likely that a large part of the remaining land will be purchased and developed.

The tragedy of the possible development of these lands would not only be the loss of the open lands at what is likely to be a low price; the true tragedy would be the forgotten victims of Rosewood.

Many people who could have had productive lives died at a young age through neglect and disease as Rosewood. By developing this land, we dishonor these people.

I would ask the governor to consider making Rosewood a park in memory of the thousands of people who suffered and died at Rosewood.

Robb Doub

Owings Mills

Don't pay students to cram for tests

Jean Marbella overlooked the most obvious reason that some students, especially in Baltimore, haven't been able to pass those exit exams ("Test-score cash seems worth a try in the city," Jan. 24).

Many of these students haven't seen success since they walked in the kindergarten door. They have failed, or minimally passed, every class or test since first grade, creating a backlog of unmastered prerequisite skills.

It's bad enough that we now say to them, "Pass this test or you can not graduate."

Paying them to pass adds insult to injury. This is not paying them to learn; it's paying them to cram.

On test day, the knowledge that results from cramming works just like lightning - one bright flash and then it's gone.

Ramona B. Ford


The writer is a retired Baltimore public school teacher.

Phony findings on racial bias

The racism-detecting word-association test cited by Cynthia Tucker sounds more like a parlor game than science ("Racist bias so deeply embedded that you might not recognize it in you," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 21).

The fact that it showed black voters held "implicit biases that worked against" Sen. Barack Obama confirms my suspicion that the test is phony.

Sometimes, the reason that "cutting-edge work" produces results counter to common sense is that common sense is right, and the results are wrong.

When voters like me say we are colorblind to race, we don't mean that we don't see skin color; we mean that when we see it, we can act rationally and ignore it.

I'm smarter than my subconscious.

Jeffry D. Mueller


Alternative medicine has helped millions

I had to laugh when I saw the headline in Thursday's paper announcing: "Here's what one local researcher says is the overall benefit of alternative medicine: Nothing" (Jan. 24).

What an insult to the millions of people around the world who for thousands of years have relied on and seen results from such medicines.

I would like to see such a story about the 90,000 to 150,000 people, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, who die every year from prescription drugs in this country.

In the meantime, I'll keep taking my echinacea, thank you.

Steve Schwarz


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