Welfare reform isn't a 'buzzword'
Your editorial "The reform buzzword" (Dec. 20) took exception to the words "responsibility" and "reform" in regard to the Maryland Department of Human Resource's proposed restructuring of AFDC benefits. The editorial cites a report of the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities stating that Maryland is one of seven states that have imposed the "harshest" budget cuts on the poor.
What the editorial fails to note,however, is that Maryland's AFDC grants have been well above the national low, and that demands for benefits have been increasing explosively.
Nor does it note that the report reflects only changes made in 1991. From 1985 through 1989, AFDC benefits in Maryland increased at a rate of almost 5 percent each year. Many states had already frozen or reduced benefits in recent years.
Maryland is one of only half the states that ever offered state-financed general public assistance. Your editorial also fails note this.
Blame this critical situation on the economy, not the department nor lack of compassion by the general public!
Our restructuring is aimed at preventing emergencies before they happen. Only by assuring that welfare clients and their children have a roof over their heads, good health and a decent education can we hope to break the deadly cycle of poverty.
! Carolyn W. Colvin
The writer is secretary of Maryland's Department of Human Resources.
Cruelty to fish
The National Aquarium contends that it nurtures respect for the environment and the ecological balance of life.
Unfortunately, another beluga whale recently died at the aquarium. Four marine mammals have died since 1981. Captivity of any species affects its health and life span. These animals are merely used as a gimmick to draw tourists.
We are becoming more conscious of our environment and of nature. Unfortunately, we are desensitized to the plight of marine mammals at the aquarium. While our tuna may be "dolphin free," our National Aquarium is not.
The aquarium's life-size replicas, animal care complex and learning center are worthwhile educational features. Observing an animal in its natural habitat, however, and respecting that relationship will teach us more than watching a performing dolphin or trained whale leap through a plastic ring.
The costly marine pavilion is not, and never will be, an ark. It is not protecting or sheltering the wild populations of marine mammals. Only when we admit our arrogance in relation to nature can we truly educate society on respect and dignity and ecological balance. These wild animals should remain free to reproduce, live, nurture and die with dignity in a well-protected .. world.
Wendy Haw Warren
How many more large marine mammal deaths must there be at the National Aquarium before the "experts" come to grips with the fact that whales, dolphins, seals, etc. ought to be left in their natural habitat?
I. H. Desser.
Eye to eye
Mark Bomster's Jan. 14 article about Mayor Schmoke changing his decision to close the Baltimore city schools for one week contains the sentence, "In the end, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke blinked."
The metaphor conjures up the image of two enemies eye to eye in battle. The one who blinks first loses; the other wins.
Such a metaphor implies all the wrong things about a situation as complex as that facing Baltimore and its schools. It suggests that the only thing that's important is who wins, who loses, who scores points. In reality, the mayor, the teachers, the parents and the students all want the same thing: quality schools. And they all face the same enemy: lack of resources to achieve their goal.
Perhaps if all of us, and especially the press, would give up the automatic reference to war and sports win/lose metaphors, we would be more likely to think about how to actually solve problems instead of worrying about how many points we stand to gain or lose in some phantom game of one-upsmanship.
If our legislators in Annapolis refuse to commit themselves to facing the issues, let's ask them (or force them) to step aside for a one-term, interim slate.
After everything is straightened out, we can return these yahoos to office. They can then re-cultivate their special interest relationships and resume packing away the usual gifts.
Give me just one perk - an ax - and I'll run.