50+ for WomenEditor: On June 19 The Sun published a very...


July 11, 1991

50+ for Women

Editor: On June 19 The Sun published a very well-written article by Jean Marbella on how older men laid off from their jobs were being helped by 50+, a support group formed to network and create new opportunities for older workers.

Since then, numbers of women have called to ask if 50+ also helps women. Some demanded to know why 50+ doesn't help women.

Of course 50+ does help women as well as men, and many women as well as men have called to offer help to 50+. The focus on men was unfortunate. It is true that more men than women have been affected by middle-management layoffs, because in the past more men than women have filled the ranks of middle-management. But 50+ is absolutely non-discriminatory, and although we began by focusing on managers and professionals, we hope soon to be able to help all older employees who have lost their jobs -- not only to find employment, but also to go into business for themselves. We are also attracting a large number of those who have elected early retirement, but are eager to find other jobs or opportunities.

50+ is not a charity which offers ''help'' in the usual one-way sense of helping the sick and the poor. We plan to be a self-help group that mobilizes our mutual resources to network, brainstorm, jawbone, incorporate, negotiate and vote. We understand that America respects those who help themselves and succeed, and we intend to do both -- women as well as men.

John Brain.


The writer is founder of 50+.

Painful Apathy

Editor: Where is the show of pride in country when four out of ten eligible Marylanders are not registered to vote? Where is civic pride when 67.6 percent of eligible Marylanders did not bother to participate in the 1990 general election? Real pride in country comes from being committed and engaged in actualizing the principles upon which this nation was founded, not empty rhetoric.

A recent analysis of voter registration and population data showed that none of the state's subdivisions had a growth of its electorate in keeping with its growth of voting-age population between November 1988 and March 1991.

In fact, the state's net total of registered voters decreased 186,794, or 8.1 percent, between the two time-periods. Except Carroll, Calvert and Charles counties, 21 subdivisions had net losses of registered voters. The greatest erosion occurred in Baltimore City, where the electorate declined 19.2 percent. Montgomery County's electorate eroded by 8.3 percent, Howard's by 7.9 percent.

It is not enough to feel angry and helpless. Many individuals do feel political alienation in the American mass society, but the abdication of the right to vote makes them even more powerless. There is power in the vote. There is even more power when citizens organize into groups and get behind particular issues and candidates who articulate and advocate their interests.

The shifting of many fiscal responsibilities and policy decisions from federal to state and local governments under the "new federalism" of the Reagan-Bush administrations and the establishment of a conservative-dominated U.S. Supreme Court lend added impetus for a new brand of political activism in Maryland. Citizens are urged to take more personal responsibility for shaping the destiny of the polity. Real pride in country, and in community, comes about when citizens roll up their sleeves and become involved in dealing with common problems.

Herbert H. Lindsey.


Helper Dogs

Editor: An otherwise fine article on helper dogs for the disabled (June 21) was marred by use of the pejorative and largely discredited phrase, ''confined to wheelchairs,'' to describe some of the participants.

Such expressions as ''confined to a wheelchair'' and ''wheelchair bound'' -- in addition to being trite and literally inaccurate -- are considered by a great many disabled persons to be extremely insulting. It is for these reasons that the AP Style Manual, for example, cautions against their use.

Of greater utility and more neutral effect are the expressions, ''wheelchair-user,'' and ''uses a wheelchair'' -- as in ''Mr. Smith, a wheelchair-user since an accident left him paralyzed . . .'' or ''Mr. Smith, who uses a wheelchair . . .''

In addition to being more literally accurate, these constructions emphasize that a wheelchair is no different than many other things which simply compensate for a physical disability. We would never refer to someone as ''eyeglass-confined'' of course; we speak instead of him or her ''wearing glasses." Similarly, one is ''using'' a wheelchair.

ndrew D. Levy.


A Hare Replies

Editor: Your editorial, "Harebrained Policy in Carroll," was aptly named. Since I am one of the "hares," allow me to apologize for being so naive where legal process is involved and also offer a few words for clarification.

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