Raise at the PumpsEditor: To many Americans, gasoline is a...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 12, 1990

Raise at the Pumps

Editor: To many Americans, gasoline is a necessity. They need it to commute to jobs and to go to the grocery store. This is why Congress took the oil industry to task when the recent turmoil in Iraq resulted in a large price increase at the gas pumps. It accused the oil industry of ''price gouging.''

Apparently, Congress knew a good thing when it saw it. Congress promptly decided to add 10 cents to the price of gasoline. But this is not called price gouging. Read my lips, it's a tax raise.

Leslie Kuff.

Cockeysville.

Juvenile Justice

Editor: Thank God Judge Joseph Kaplan is battling for our juvenility. State juvenile officials may be worried when judges cross the line into their functions. What worries me more is the ineffectual system that turns young offenders into hardened professional criminals.

When our executive and legislative branches fail to effectively stem this recidivous tide, I welcome the balance brought to bear by our judicial branch. Juvenile Services officials are rightfully jealous when their authority is checked by the courts. However, their preoccupation with the cost of a for-profit reformatory has polarized the issue. Maryland cannot afford the increased expense of a penal system that does not work. Instead of political infighting, we should devote our energies toward making our Maryland penal system more effective; use these successful for-profit, systems as models.

The Sun's editorial, ''Juvenile Battle,'' raises spurious issues about recent tax referendums, ''to suit the court's fancy.'' The writer also asks rhetorical questions like, ''. . . should judges have the right to pre-empt the executive branch, regardless of the cost, and become self-proclaimed juvenile experts?'' I am disappointed with The Sun's perspective. This is a ''trees and forest'' issue. Fortunately, our appeals courts will be able to decide how far its reach needs to extend. Judge Kaplan has done us all a great service by forcing the question. That is how our government is supposed to work.

Karl Pfrommer.

Baltimore.

Cynicism or Statesmanship?

Editor: It is fashionable to adopt a politically cynical view and to accuse Gov. William Donald Schaefer of merely reading the election returns before taking a pro-choice position on abortion. I believe that does the governor an injustice. As a woman who is strongly pro-choice, I have respect for the depth of his personal dilemma and am grateful for his statesmanship.

Abortion is a difficult issue for most people. For many, parenthood is a sacred responsibility, requiring a serious commitment to nurture another human being. I cannot believe it is a high moral law to force a woman to become a mother when she is physically or emotionally unable to make that commitment.

What relevance does an abstract discussion about ''sanctity of life'' have to the real-life situations if she is substance-addicted and cannot get treatment, if she is living on the street because her family has thrown her out, if she is 15 years old and was raped by her step-brother who threatens to kill her if she tells anyone.

There are many ways to kill a child. It can be born HIV-positive, heroine-addicted or suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. It can be born with a vast array of cataclysmic physical and mental disabilities that result from a lack of pre-natal medical care. The brief lives of these babies are little more than a prolonged dying. Those who speak with passion about ''the rights of the unborn'' would do well to remember the needs of the already born, to which our public and private response is totally inadequate, in spite of the heroic efforts of some agencies and individuals.

For six years, I was legislative liaison in Annapolis for the Department of Human Resources, whose unhappy task it is to try and hold these tortured lives together. In all those years of defending budget requests for pre-natal care, family services, foster care and adopting, and child abuse prevention and treatment, the pro-fetus lobby was nowhere to be seen.

It would be wonderful if our social and religious structures were so strong (and our contraceptives so reliable) that there would be no unwelcome pregnancies. It would be wonderful if we as a society were willing to provide the supports necessary for women who would prefer to choose parenthood but now cannot. But there will continue to be situations in which some of us would argue that abortion is the moral choice.

In separating his personal conviction from the power of government to dictate on this issue, Governor Schaefer has accorded every woman the dignity of making a personal choice based on the requirements of her situation and the dictates of her own conscience.

Dale Balfour.

Owings Mills.

Witchcraft and Values

Editor: Recent newspaper stories have described some parents' concern over two books available in school reading centers. One book deals with witchcraft, spells and magic. The other tells of a humorous or fanciful relationship with a devil.

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