The Baltimore Sun

Americans want help, not more government

There is a reason I have seen the word "selling" appear more than once in headlines about President Barack Obama traveling across the country to solicit support for the proposed economic stimulus package: Americans are not embracing this huge government expansion and need to be convinced that this program is in their best interest ("Pressure mounts on lawmakers as Obama begins selling stimulus to public," Feb. 9).

And there is a reason Americans are not enthusiastically embracing this legislation, which contains more pork and government expansion - much of which does not involve genuine incentives for economic recovery - than we have seen in decades: Americans want help, not more government programs.

And there is a reason former President George W. Bush will go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever: Besides launching the war in Iraq, he heaped debt on us that it will take generations to pay off.

Mr. Obama's actions appear to be mirroring those of the leader we just got rid of.

Mr. Obama ran on a platform of "change." But who knew it wasn't necessarily change for the better?

Tony Ondrusek, Hunt Valley

Not very stimulating to exclude the arts

I hope that the U.S. Senate's mischief with the stimulus bill will be corrected by sensible leaders in the conference committee ("Pressure mounts on lawmakers as Obama begins selling stimulus to public," Feb. 9).

I have two specific concerns.

First, cutting dollars for aid to states is short-sighted. Governors and state legislators are much closer to the grass roots than members of Congress are, and are better able to identify the projects that will most effectively create short- and long-term jobs and therefore are worth doing.

Second, the Coburn amendment, which the Senate passed last week, prohibits the use of stimulus dollars for zoos, museums, arts centers, theaters and community parks, among other types of potential local projects.

This is arbitrary. Again, let's leave such choices up to the state leadership.

The fact that investing in the arts can be a powerful multiplier of economic benefits has been well-documented; for example, every $1 spent by the National Endowment for the Arts leverages $7 in additional spending.

Given the role of the arts in building our communities, why categorically eliminate them from the stimulus bill the way the Coburn amendment does?

Mary Ann Mears, Baltimore

The writer is a sculptor and a board member of the Arts Education in Maryland Schools Alliance.

Cutting stimulus bill cuts the jobs created

Congratulations to the "bipartisan" senators who, by cutting the size of the stimulus bill, may have cut 500,000 jobs out of the stimulus while adding the inefficient stimulus of more tax cuts to appease congressional Republicans who won't vote for the bill no matter what it says ("Pressure mounts on lawmakers as Obama begins selling stimulus to public," Feb. 9).

It's a comfort to know that when they hit the bottom of this economic mine shaft, at least the congressional Republicans and their wealthy benefactors will have the rest of us to cushion their fall.

Richard Levy, Cambridge

No shortage of hands ready to pick crabs

We are seeing high levels of unemployment and tens of thousands of Marylanders are looking for work. Yet we are supposed to believe that the crab industry is unable to find employees ("A shortage of hands," Feb. 6)?

The old excuse, "We just don't have the work force," sounds hollow today.

Perhaps if the industry paid competitive wages and did not depend on H2B workers, it might make less profit, but the industry could be able to, as one official quoted in the article suggests, "save this way of life."

If not, well, the marketplace will weed out those unable able to compete. And maybe that way of life should stop.

Gary Ambridge, Bel Air

On the one hand, Maryland and the nation are dealing with high job losses. On the other hand, the crab industry is bemoaning the lack of visas for foreign workers that is depriving it of its work force.

Does anyone else see an obvious solution here?

Karen Stott, Baltimore

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