Punishment is not the way to fix welfareYour editorial...

the Forum

December 10, 1991

Punishment is not the way to fix welfare

Your editorial, "The welfare morass" (Nov. 29), about proposed reforms is right on target. Encouraging responsible behavior such as obtaining appropriate health care, paying rent on time and having children attend school are laudable goals, but you do not teach responsible behavior by punishing people.

Yet this is the scheme being advanced by the Department of Human Resources. First the department plans to shred the already severed monthly income benefit of $377 to $264 for a mother and two children. Then, if proof of good behavior can be obtained and processed by an already overworked staff, just maybe the family's benefit will return to $377.

It's tough to pay rent on time plus utilities, non-food grocery items, transportation, clothing, medical costs and other basic necessities on $377 a month. The proposed welfare reform plan is like expecting the Orioles to finish in first place while playing every game without bats and gloves. Only if they finish on top of the league can the team have their equipment back.

The suggested changes for disabled adults on General Public Assistance is clearly for cost-saving purposes. Why else would the state now say these adults, with virtually no income or assets, should seek other options? These ill men and women now try to eke out an existence on only $181 per month and have already lost all but the most rudimentary community-based medical care. They no longer even have coverage for in-hospital stays.

We need responsible behavior from all citizens ` those who promote public policy as well as those who are affected by public policy. This plan is a step in the wrong direction.

Lynda E. Meade

The writer is director of social concerns and vice president of welfare advocates for Associated Catholic Charities. 5

Tax bust

Somewhere along the line, the public generally and the press in particular have forgotten history when it comes to taxes. Overlooked is the fact that while taxes have been cut during the last decade, the cost of living and of government has soared. The result is the ever widening federal deficit.

In 1966, a married taxpayer paid a tax of only $160 for the first $1,000 of taxable income. After that, there were incremental increases for tax brackets up to $36,000, when the tax was $11,000 plus 47.5 percent of the excess. At the same time, the standard deduction and exemption were lower. There were then 12 tax brackets.

In 1990, the tax for the first $32,450 was 15 percent and the maximum was 33 percent of the amount over $47,050. There were only three tax brackets. At the same time, both standard deduction and exemption rates were substantially increased.

To put this in another context: If one were to take his tax return for 1990 but use his 1966 tax rate schedule, he would see that he would have paid a much higher tax in 1990.

The balloon is about to burst. Whether we like it or not, we are technically bankrupt. We won't solve the problem by printing money for the sake of covering our debts and floating loans every other Monday with T-bills. The deficit is only going to increase further, leaving not only our children but our great-great grandchildren one hell of a burden to shoulder.

Richard L. Lelonek

Baltimore

Animal protection

The USDA's proposal to protect dogs and cats destined for research laboratories (The Evening Sun, Nov. 19) is certainly step in the right direction. However, the thought of selling these animals for research purposes offends me.

Haven't these animals in pounds and shelters (what a misnomer!) suffered enough? They have been lost, neglected and abused, wandering the streets filled with perils of all sorts. Then, when they are finally picked up, many are sold to suffer out their days as experiments in research laboratories. Only the cruel and greedy could sell animals for this purpose.

What kind of people are we to tolerate this cruelty? Stray animals not claimed by their owners after a period of time should be humanely put to sleep and not sentenced to further suffering.

Jane R. Lang

Baltimore

Military pay

Upon picking up the paper Nov. 29 and turning to the editorial section, I was flabbergasted to see Arthur Milholland's letter.

I am a military member. Yes, teachers and firefighters have hardships visited upon them, but the military has it no better and perhaps worse. I make just over $11,000 per year. That is poverty level in most states. One of my paychecks barely covers rent, electricity and phone. My other paycheck must pay for insurance, a car, food and any other bills I may have. I have not been out to dinner, seen a movie or even rented a VCR tape because I can't afford it. I don't even have furniture beyond a bed I bought years ago and a table and chairs I bought on sale only a few months ago.

My pay raises are seldom over 4 percent per year. Congress will only give me 3.5 percent next year. I spent months floating on a ship off the Saudi coast and I can't even buy furniture here. Don't complain about me. I've had six years in the military and I don't make half your money.

Please, any of you who think people in the military are rich, join. You'll soon see who is rich. It isn't the military.

Lori A. Turpin

Glen Burnie

Best of TV

In my opinion, television has come up with three of the finest shows this season, which will be with us for many years to come: "The Civil War," "Homefront" and "Brooklyn Bridge."

David Chupnick

Baltimore

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