Persian Gulf duty is not'just a jobRussell Baker's pen...

the Forum

October 03, 1990

Persian Gulf duty is not'just a job

Russell Baker's pen misfired in his Sept. 24 column. Despite the elegance of his prose, he missed the essence of what always has been the strength of America's fighting men and women: a dedication to principle that transcends dollars and cents and fringe benefits; ideals that are clearly worth the family separations and sacrifices even when it means serving in the deserts of the Middle East, the barren plateaus of Korea or the perilous, unpredictable environment aboard ships at sea.

Even as we pray for the safety of our men and women in Saudi Arabia, let us not forget that since the end of World War II sailors and soldiers have been tearfully saying goodbye to family and friends as they departed for foreign lands to protect what we so casually refer to as our "liberty." Only history will tell us if all those separations and sacrifices were necessary. The point is that this nation has had young men and women willing to go bear the burden -- draft or no draft.

Clearly, even in the best of times our troops weren't getting rich. They aren't getting rich now. What Mr. Baker calls a "pretty good job" may not be so good after all. Our troops' pay lags their civilian contemporaries by nearly 20 percent at the low end and by much more in the upper ranks. No, there is much more to it than "a pretty good job."

Let's not belittle those in the gulf today, or those who preceded them, by implying defending liberty and and our way of life is "just a job."

Robert L. Holt


Voice of experience

Mark Featherman's "The '80s party is over" (Other Voices, Sept. 26) is typical of a person who is "twentysomething." They think they know it all and are always ready to blame someone else. I know, because I was once "twentysomething" myself. That's right, Mr. Featherman, I am a (God forbid) "misty-eyed baby-boomer."

Let me tell you something, pal. When we were in our 20s, things were just as tough as they are now. The issues were different, but things just don't change all that much or all that quickly.

Who will pay the taxes? We all will, because as my dad used to say (he was born in the Depression), the only sure things in life are death and taxes. How can you figure that my generation wants to pay the least? Or the "silver fox" generation, for that matter? (Your nicknames are so cute.) We have children in the school system. I pay taxes, as my parents did before me. We had to take out loans to go to college, too. And it was just as tough to get a job back then as it is now -- or to buy a house or a car. There is only one way to obtain all life's benefits -- work.

In other words, Mr. Featherman, grow up, and pay for your own beer!

Pamela Hamburg


Souter's record

The decisions already made by Supreme Court nominee David H. Souter reveal both his antagonism to civil liberties and his deference to the police powers of the government.

Souter has suggested that demonstrators arrested at protests against the Seabrook nuclear power facility be given prison terms with hard labor, and he held that New Hampshire citizens can be forced to display the state motto, "Live Free or Die," on their license plates.

On the New Hampshire Supreme Court, Judge Souter stood alone in wanting to allow random police interrogations of motorists as an anti-drunk driving measure. Also, he has a reputation for almost never overturning criminal convictions, no matter how tainted the evidence or trial proceedings. Souter's antipathy to equal rights for members of the gay community is also well known.

Despite Souter's unambiguous enmity to individual rights, many in the civil rights community not only failed to actively oppose his nomination but, worse, actually voiced support for the man.

rwin H. Desser


Insurance cheaters

I want to add my voice to Arteamus Pulley's ("Let's attack cheaters on car insurance," Forum, Sept. 27) in suggesting we require hospital examinations for personal injury claimants suing for large sums of money.

Recently, my insurance company paid $8,950 in personal injuries to two city employees whose van struck my left rear fender. Not one penny went for property damage because there was none to the city vehicle. The so-called personal injuries have never, to my knowledge, been defined or known. What attorney and doctor conjured up this fraud? There were no witnesses. I did not cause the accident but the city's version prevailed.

I was soon notified my insurance premium would be increased, and my driver's classification was changed!

Apparently, the insurance companies cannot control these "cheaters." Where can we go for help? Let us unite and protest loudly!

James A. Nahm


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