Editor: What a sick, mean world we live in!
How could any human being look at the picture of once-beautiful Kimberly Bergales and read her pitiful speech and not be moved to tears?
Why should a person in her condition have to come before Congress to plead for a bill to be passed for mandated testing for health care workers and patients?
The older I become, the less I comprehend what life and human dignity are all about.
My heart breaks for Kimberly and her family, but that does them no good at all. It's late, far too late.
' Rae Miller Heneson. Baltimore.
Editor: Well, I think the good times are over for Congress. It was bound to happen. The gravy train has made its last stop, or at least it has bounced into the station.
For some reason, we Americans tend to equate rich with smart. We have a system of government that, no matter how you look at it, elects rich people to office. We look at the commercial appeal of candidates, not their quality, their billboards and bumper stickers, not their brains. And we re-elect them again and again, because we think they must really be smart to have gotten their jobs in the first place.
Most of us don't read the Congressional Record, and we forgive them for not being able to balance the budget. We all thought, well, we common folk have trouble balancing our own checkbooks, so the federal deficit must really be impossible if our rich/smart representatives can't balance it.
And then we all learned something -- that these people can't balance their own checkbooks either. And when we realized that Congress was bouncing checks off the walls we stopped forgiving. At some point we have all had that horrible feeling when a check bounces. You want to curl up in a hole. You will do anything to make it better. You feel poor and you feel stupid.
But the people in Washington didn't react that way. They didn't feel guilty, they didn't atone and it was almost as if they were sneering at the rest of us for being mundane enough to worry about balancing our checkbooks. There was just something so fundamentally wrong about their attitude that it woke us up.
But we also learned a great lesson -- that you could look good and still be stupid, that you could have good P.R. and still be stupid, and that, yes, you could even be rich and be stupid -- but by heaven you will never get re-elected again.
Rhona R. Beitler-Akman.
Editor: The state is broke. Since it is desperate for money we have to respond by paying more taxes. It's as simple as that. It is imperative upon the legislature to stop procrastinating, worrying about their jobs and do the right thing. We have ''high noon'' on our city streets and 104 police positions remain unfilled. This is unconscionable and unacceptable.
The money is out there. If there is a big pay-off in the lottery, look how people line up for blocks to buy tickets. Gambling is popular. Taxes anathema. How can one afford to be autonomous when there is so much misery among those being hit by lay-offs and drastic cuts in human services? We have to band together, stop blaming each other for this predicament and work through this crisis together. It is up to our legislature in Annapolis to act now.
! Miriam Topel. Baltimore.
Editor: The state's budget crisis is the result of nothing more than poor management. The governor and legislature would have you believe that they are good managers who are innocent victims of a recession.
Nonsense. Recessions have occurred routinely throughout this century. They should have been smart enough to know that, and responsible enough to plan for it. Now, during a recession which we all knew would eventually come, our state budget is not in a position to cope.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer has selected the highest impact areas for budget cuts -- school lunch programs, Medevac helicopters -- in hopes that the people will capitulate and accept higher taxes. We are already one of the highest-taxed states in the Union. Enough is enough.
While Governor Schaefer cuts the school lunch program, he fights for a new bridge over the Severn River that the public does not want. The governor and legislators who have gotten us into this mess should forfeit their salaries; they have failed the public trust. Governor Schaefer should personally reimburse the state for all the money spent on painting his name all over the place. He should also personally pay to have those signs removed.
For decades our state government has encouraged businesses and people to move into the state under the guise of an increased tax base. But the population of the state has reached a level where providing public services increases exponentially with each new family. After decades of marketing Maryland and paying companies to move here, a few landowners and developers have prospered nicely; but the rest of us have had to pay higher taxes and suffer a lower standard of living.
& Brian C. Zeichner.