No Tax Cap
Editor: I disagree with all the letters condemning higher property taxes in Baltimore County. No one wants to pay more taxes. But a 2 percent cap on property taxes would mean fewer public services such as police and fire protection, transportation, education, sanitary and trash services, libraries etc.
No one can have public services without paying for them. I disagree that all retirees who own their own homes are on a fixed income. Social Security provides annual raises in line with the cost of living. It is literally untouched by budget cuts.
It is normal to rebel against taxes no matter how poor or how wealthy you are. It will not only be dangerous but catastrophic to vote for a 2 percent cap on property taxes in Baltimore County. If Baltimore County residents want good schools, good police protection, good roads and other vital services, they should vote NO on the tax cap question.
Ruth Von Bramer.
Danger of War
Editor: In the Revolutionary War, we started with a Tea Party and got a long war that the French had to bail us out of.
In the Civil War, both sides started with expectations of quick victory, and got what we have just seen on television.
In both World Wars we came in late, when the main combatants were more or less equal. We tipped the balance and, with some unexpected difficulty, won.
In the Korean War, MacArthur's glorious (and lucky) victory at Inchon saved us from being pushed off the peninsula at Pusan. Then we recklessly crossed the 38th Parallel and lived to regret it.
In the Vietnam War, we started out thinking that of course a great power like ours could cope with a poor little one like North Vietnam. We fought for eight years and lost.
Overconfidence at the beginning of a war has been the rule, not the exception.
Now, without remembering, we face a tough, battle-hardened, ruthless opponent. Will we rush in again, not taking seriously the possibility that with the right kind of negotiation we could avoid the war?
Death and Sex
Editor: The recent decision by a school board in Talbot County not to allow a school nurse to distribute condoms to sexually active teen-agers could have tragic consequences.
It is, unfortunately, symptomatic of our muted national response to the AIDS epidemic, due in no small part to the frequent confusion of moral and health issues.
Let there be no mistake that promotion of condoms to sexually active teen-agers is a health issue. The arguments of those who contend that condom promotion will send a tacit message condoning teen-age sex do not stand up to close scrutiny.
First, teen-agers are already widely involved in high-risk sexual behavior. It is therefore difficult to understand how condom promotion could make this any worse. In fact, condoms supplied with appropriate counseling from a school nurse on safe sex seems likely to reduce high-risk sex, rather than encourage it.
Second, if inaction continues in face of the rapidly spreading HIV epidemic then teen-agers will continue to get infected, get AIDS and die in increasing numbers. To me this is the most powerful, practical argument.
Teen-agers will continue to have sex. That is as certain as death and taxes. Our duty is to teach them to do it safely, because their health and even their survival may depend on it. The condom is the only AIDS ''vaccine'' available now or in the foreseeable future.
A practical, logical, humane approach to the HIV epidemic demands promotion of condoms and safe sex education.
Confusion of this approach with morality will only help spread the virus and the tragedy associated with AIDS.
Many other Western countries have decided that AIDS prevention is a practical health issue, not a moral one. In these countries it is likely that the spread of HIV can be limited.
In New York and other large U.S. cities the virus has already spread widely in young adults of both sexes and is beginning to appear in smaller towns and rural communities. For many, our inaction and the facile health/morality debate on condom and safe sex promotion will mean that intervention, if it comes at all, will be too late.
`Neil M. H. Graham, M.D.
The writer is an assistant professor of epidemiology and medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.
Editor: The Sun, Oct. 19, front-pages the giving of contraceptives and condoms to teen-agers at seven Baltimore schools.
Sexual powers are for life, not just for pleasure. Respect teen-agers by challenging them to chaste self-control.
Commonly the media (television, movies and press, etc.) facilitate the degrading of our sexual powers -- and now schools are being misused in the same degrading work.
Is chastity still reckoned a virtue, implying strength of character, by Americans generally?
Widespread exercise of chastity would slow down, perhaps even halt, the spread of AIDS, and would hugely lessen the abortions holocaust.
`Rev. George D. Bowring.