Silencing the Productive OnesEditor: Your Jan. 10...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 23, 1991

Silencing the Productive Ones

Editor: Your Jan. 10 editorial, "Silent Spring," was very much to the point, but did not mention the widely accepted reason for this unfortunate action by the Congress.

Many feel that the banning of any kind of payment for articles, books, participation in seminars and speeches by federal employees is an attempt by the House to create such a strong public reaction that the ban on honorariums will be repealed. It seems to be a move by the House to tell the public that, if you won't let us have the honorariums, no one else in the federal government will get any kind of reimbursement either.

The result has been most unfortunate. Numerous articles and participation in industry seminars by federal employees have been canceled. Communication of the results of the work being done at federal research facilities and government agencies has been prohibited if compensation of any sort is involved. No longer can the results of research programs at such installations as the Navy or Army construction research laboratories be made known to the industry concerned by writing or other communication, unless the person involved is willing to bear the costs involved personally, without compensation of any sort.

What, in effect, is happening is that the private sector is no longer being made aware of the work being done under federally sponsored research, paid for with taxpayer dollars. A bad law, passed in a fit of pique by the Congress. Its members should be ashamed of themselves and reverse the action.

Charles R. Carroll Jr.

Baltimore.

Do without Oil

Editor: I know we are all caught up in the patriotic fervor of saving the shallow and repressive Kuwaiti and Saudi regimes from the shallow and repressive Iraqi regime. But now is a good time to reflect on a lesson unlearned. If over the last decade we had invested resources commensurate with just our present military build-up, we would have had sufficient alternative energy resources to thumb our noses at the whole Mideast affair and let the region stew in the juices of its ancestral enmity.

We cannot look to the government to lead alternative energy development. It is clearly beyond the capability of our federal bureaucracy to guide us into the energy future, and a short spectacular war brings many more political rewards than a lengthy venture in technology research and development. Rather, the big petroleum companies should seize this opportunity.

Within the lifetime of the young executives beginning their ascent of the corporate ladders at Exxon, Shell, Texaco, Mobil, BP and Conoco, oil will become a very scarce commodity. We will not burn it for fuel or mold it into milk bottles. Instead, the little remaining petroleum will be shunted to the pharmaceutical and chemical specialty conglomerates.

So it is time now for the "petroleum" companies to become "energy" companies, investing in ocean thermal conversion, conventional solar, wind and other innovative technologies. How to profit from less centralized energy source? Owning the initial patents and royalty rights on the hardware and software is a good start, and other opportunities will arise as the R&D process unfolds.

Events of the last few days illustrate the cruelly short-sighted leadership Washington has provided in the last 15 years. In an inversion worthy of the best science fiction, perhaps "big business" now has the imperative to save us from our own government.

David Ludwig.

Columbia.

Real Face

Editor: The Soviet crackdown in Lithuania would be no surprise to the people of Afghanistan.

When will the U.S. media start paying attention to the real face of the U.S.S.R?

Kaukab Siddique.

Baltimore.

Good Company

Editor: The English governor of Virginia and the English loyalists branded Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington ''anarchists.''

Councilmen Douglas Riley, Donald Mason and William Howard IV are in good company as depicted in your tax assessment protest editorial, ''Dundalk Anarchists.''

E. C. Chavatel Jr.

Timonium.

Model School

Editor: Gov. William Donald Schaefer says he recognizes that an effective educational system is essential to the state's economy. To achieve that, he and state Superintendent of Education Joseph Shilling have embarked on a grand plan to re-energize the state's flagging public schools by the year 2000.

Yet in the midst of this promising change, the ''education governor'' has decided to close the state's only model research elementary school, the Lida Lee Tall Learning Resources Center. The decision is short-sighted and promises to work against the very changes the governor has planned for Maryland education.

Lida Lee Tall is not just a good school for its 160 students, although it is certainly that. Throughout its 125-year history it has served as a testing ground for new teachers and for new ways to improve schooling.

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