Relative PovertyEditor: Margaret Orman's letter asks why...


May 28, 1991

Relative Poverty

Editor: Margaret Orman's letter asks why we don't care for our own American poor before allocating money to aid foreign people. America is not an island needing nothing from other nations. The aid is part of the return. America is also the No. 1 power in the world, which, in an intercooperative family of nations, has a responsibility attached to it.

Additionally, the plight of the Kurds is a situation in which America has had a playing hand, therefore obligating us in the healing process. And Bangladesh certainly has not cornered the market on natural disasters; it could even happen here, it just hasn't yet.

The poor right here in Baltimore are much better off than the poor in other countries. While our poor may live in blankets on steam grates, or in rundown, filthy apartments, eating out of shelters and soup kitchens, human beings in foreign lands sleep in the disease infested muck and search desperately for a cup of drinkable water.

A blanket and a cup of rice are all they need. You won't find them wondering how to live on $400 a month in welfare benefits.

Not to discount the plight of the poor here in America, for surely it is no picnic, but poverty is a very relative thing. There is a saying, "I complained I had no shoes, until I met a man with no feet."

` Georgia Corso. Baltimore.

Health of Elderly

Editor: It is a fact that most seniors have numerous health problems -- heart, arthritis, high blood pressure, stress, etc.

It is a fact that most seniors have financial difficulties and spend from $200 to $300 a month for prescriptions which are needed to exist and which are greatly overpriced.

Dr. William H. M. Finney, in a letter May 21, stated that the repeal of the catastrophic health bill, several years ago, was ill advised.

This bill would have paid seniors:

(1) A six-month stay in a nursing home.

(2) 50 percent coverage of prescriptions costing over $600 a year.

(3) Prevention of a 25 percent estimated rise in Blue Cross-Blue Shield premiums.

It is not too late to pass the repealed catastrophic health bill of two years ago.

avid Chupnick. Baltimore.

Real Solutions

Editor: In his column of May 16, Michael Olesker cites the grand jury report on the Charles H. Hickey, Jr. School for delinquent youth as an example of government's failure to perform its legal duty at a reasonable cost.

In another Sun article by Mark K. Shriver on May 14, we are told that the state plans to transfer management of the Hickey School from the state to a private contractor.

Shriver cautioned that private management, without a fundamental shift in the way we remove youth from the community, will not be a panacea.

In my judgment, both columnists place an unrealistic expectation on the possibility for constructive change through institutionalization, regardless of management strategies or efforts.

Alex Kotlowitz's book, ''There Are No Children Here,'' tells us why no program can work so long as children are exposed on a daily basis to the street culture: violence, early death or serious injury, the lure of easy money from selling drugs, no realistic alternative for making it, pervasive criminal and anti-social behavior, and the pains of alienation engendered in trying to be different.

Unless we do something about the street culture, nothing will change. Ghettos or concentrations of the poor, the unemployed and unemployable, the misfits and failures, will always be breeding grounds for rage, hatred, despair, violence, and lawlessness.

When will we come to realize that containment is not a viable option? We can run, but we cannot hide from the pain we inflict, from the reaction to that pain, from the overwhelming cost of protection and safety, from the ever-increasing litters of abused and neglected children.

We must make the streets safe again for children and families by adequate policing. We must offer effective job training and the opportunity to earn a livelihood, affordable housing, schools and homes that truly educate and prepare our children for financially-secure adulthood, healthy recreation, and goals that challenge the best within them.

We must not allow pockets of sub-standard living to exist and contaminate healthy surroundings. We have the power and resources to accomplish these things. Do we have the will?

$Lawrence B. Coshnear. Baltimore.

Helping Mother Earth

Editor: What a great headline and picture on the front page! The dedicated volunteer groups cleaning up the thoughtless deluge of trash which followed the Preakness at Pimlico were indeed an inspiring sight. Perhaps it may encourage other groups to do likewise -- school groups especially -- to help them learn the great lesson of caring for the Earth.

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