Too many incentives to have childrenNicholas Demerath's...

the Forum

December 02, 1991

Too many incentives to have children

Nicholas Demerath's column ("If the planet's to survive, we must control population," Other Voices, Nov. 20), which addresses the critical need to control population growth, was excellent. Responsible media such as The Evening Sun mus take the lead on this issue because individuals have a natural desire to have children and to ignore the consequences.

One of the ways that we encourage population growth in the U.S. aside from religious preaching and insufficient availability of birth control is through the unlimited financial subsidy of families.

It's easy to find taxpayers who will complain that unemployed people should not receive extra benefits for each child, theorizing that the benefits encourage reproduction.

However, we must examine the tax breaks "the rest of us" get a dependent deduction or tax "exemption" for each child. This is also a cash incentive for increasing family size. Let's be reasonable. Effective 18 years from now, let's terminate the tax exemption for the third child; effective the year before that, let's eliminate the tax break for the fourth child, and so on. We must begin now to discourage wanton family growth, or our children will find themselves packed like sardines in a world more like hell than heaven.

Let's keep up the debate. It is the critical issue; we're talkin about the survival of life on Earth, nothing less. Holding the U.S. population at 250 million is the least we can do.

Louis Brendan Curran

Owings Mills


If there were an award for the most misleading, ill-conceived, and downright ludicrous letter to the editor, Charles A. Frainie's recent letter (Forum, Nov. 19) would be in the running. It is unfortunately another example of why The Evening Sun shoul screen its letters for gross factual errors. Sen. John Pica's legislation to tighten automobile pollution controls is an important and necessary step for Maryland, and hysterical letters like Mr. Frainie's serve no one.

Contrary to Mr. Frainie's implications, the Baltimore area has some of the worst air quality in the U.S. And yes, on some days the pollution here does in fact rival that of the notorious Los Angeles basin, weather and traffic problems notwithstanding. Indeed, studies show a healthy adult's 30-minute workout in Baltimore's air can be as bad for the lungs as smoking a pack of cigarettes. Senator Pica's legislation goes at the biggest single contributor to the problem, automobiles.

Also unfortunately, Mr. Frainie seems to have misplaced a decimal point in describing the costs per automobile for the tighter pollution controls. Unless automobile dealers plan to mark up the price on the equipment 1,000 percent, the cost per new car is more like $100. These cleaner cars are already for sale in California and several other states; their costs are well known.

If Baltimore wants to come into compliance with federal health standards any time soon (and wants to avoid federal sanctions), the state may have no choice but to go to the clean car standard. And given the severity of our air quality problem and the associated health impacts, sooner is better than later.

Terry J. Harris

The writer is chair of the Sierra Club, Baltimore Group.


Voting equity

We were distressed to read Sen. Thomas Bromwell's comment that complying with the Voting Rights Act is "accommodating" minorities "at the cost of everyone else" (Nov. 21).

It may be the legislative reapportionment process will result in the creation of districts not particularly acceptable to Senator Bromwell. But he should remember that the process does not exist for him its purpose is to guarantee an equal distribution of representatives under the principle of "one person, one vote."

By applying that principle, as enunciated in the Voting Rights Act, we must create "minority districts" in which the factors enumerated by the act exist. This is not "accommodating." This is being fair. This is acting within the law.

The right to vote and the accompanying right to hold office has been achieved only after a long struggle that has stretched over a large part of our country's history.

Senator Bromwell's remarks reflect an attitude that we assumed was rooted in our past and well behind us. We are sorry that it is not.

Jim Kraft

Ellicott City

The writer is chairman of the Democratic Forum Inc.


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