Time to Help Ourselves
Editor: General Motors has announced layoffs of 74,000 people. By the time all the fallout has settled there will be over one million American jobs lost from this one layoff.
IBM, Westinghouse and other large employers are having layoffs. Even McDonald's is laying off.
The retailers are complaining about poor sales. What is happening to our economy and our country?
While we are waiting for our leaders to wake up and smell the roses, is there anything that we as citizens can do?
Of course there is. The next time you go into a store to buy something, stop and think: ''Where does the money that I am spending on this product go?''
When I buy something, part of the money I'm spending goes to the people who actually made the product.
Where do these people pay their rent? Where do these people buy their clothes? To whom do these people pay their taxes?
When we buy a product that's made locally, we are helping to support our friends and neighbors. When we buy a product that is made within our state, we are helping other people to pay taxes to our state.
But when we buy a product that is imported from a foreign country, who are we helping?
It is time for us to start buying American products and helping ourselves.
Editor: The overcrowding in our prisons needs to be curbed substantially.
Home imprisonment, community service and a stronger probation system are all solutions.
Home imprisonment allows lesser offenders to operate in the outside world while still being imprisoned. This would lower overcrowding by keeping lesser offenders out of jail.
Community service can be used to shorten long sentences and obliterate short ones. It would also benefit the offender by giving him the opportunity to help the community. It also aids the community by providing free help.
With a stronger probation system we can keep a keen eye on the people on probation by assigning more officers to each prisoner. This would lower rates of recidivism.
Together, these options might well eliminate the need for new prisons.
Editor: Sometimes I feel the public is completely oblivious to what is going on in this country.
When it comes to presidential election years, people focus their anger on the president. I feel our Congress is the more appropriate target.
If, for once, we would give our Republican president a Republican House or Senate, maybe we could finally get some proposals through that would help heal our country's problems. As it is now we have a Democratic Congress holding our president back. Until we change that our country will continue to decline.
As for the American automobile manufacturers whining about their trip to Tokyo, they expect President Bush to fix the mess they got themselves into.
I would suggest they look in the mirror before trashing our president next time.
Jennifer S. Czawlytko.
Just Say No to Taxes
Editor: In your article, ''New Taxes -- Will They Help or Hurt?'', Senator Laurence Levitan, D-Montgomery, said he does not believe an increase in the sales tax would have any adverse effect on the economy.
This is just wishful thinking. A tax increase of any kind will only further burden those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Senator Levitan believes that consumers will continue to spend in spite of his proposed 1 percent hike in the sales tax because an extra penny isn't going to stop anybody from buying anything.
He is correct in assuming that people will continue to make purchases that are important to them, but they will not make marginal purchases because their income will be reduced. It is minimum-wage employees who are most affected by marginal decreases in consumer spending.
Anyone who does not believe this should take a look at their own household budget and spending habits.
If you had $100 to $200 less to spend next year because of the sales tax increase, where would you cut back?
You would probably take your regular Ocean City vacation, but perhaps forgo the amusement park trip with the kids.
You might not want to give up hard crabs for the summer, but maybe you will steam them yourself instead of going to a restaurant.
If you need new shoes you will buy them, but instead of stopping by the shoe shine stand every week, you will pick up a can of polish.
None of these cutbacks are a hardship for you, but one individual's marginal purchase is another person's livelihood.
A penny on the dollar will not stop a state senator from buying say, a new television, but it will send waitresses, shoe shine men and amusement park workers to the unemployment line. If Marylanders want a healthy economy in which people at all income levels can work and prosper, it is time to ''just say no'' to any tax increase.
Donald O. Harrison.
Editor: I applaud your Jan. 5 article on the Enoch Pratt Library.
It reminded all of us that this gem, so important to sustaining knowledge, is slipping away and can only be saved by our caring and action.