Smoke's Not GreenI am writing regarding the editorial...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 19, 1992

Smoke's Not Green

I am writing regarding the editorial, "The Green, Green Grass of Home," which appeared June 27. RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment) represents suppliers of pesticide products used in the urban market, especially lawn care.

The effort in your editorial to link lawn-care pesticides and cigarette smoke is inappropriate and misleading. It may be correct that secondary inhalation of smoke has been associated scientifically with elevated health risks.

However, there is absolutely no indication that pesticide run-off from urban lawns is a problem nor that there is any linkage between pesticide run-off and increased health risks. The comparison between cigarette risks and pesticides in your editorial is without basis or merit.

The ordinance requiring the posting of different signs before and after pesticide usage in Prince George's County is for more than just information, as you contend.

The ordinance establishes financial penalties for homeowner and professional applicator violations, will require increased taxpayer support for enforcement and will add an unnecessary burden to local businesses, already hard-pressed by the current economic environment.

As important, the state already has a statute which addresses the pesticide issue. Why add another level of government bureaucracy?

We urge you to offer your readers a more balanced editorial viewpoint and to avoid unnecessary and misleading comparisons.

Allen James

Washington

The writer is executive director of RISE.

Stereotyped Roles

It seems that we have not come so far from the days when "women's issues" were relegated to the women's pages of the newspaper.

Soon after a presidential hopeful announced his running mate, I opened the Today section to find an article on these male politicians' wives with the headline, "Consider the Ladies."

The article appears to pit the two women against each other, assuming that because of the differences in their chosen careers, they cannot possibly be friends.

This furthers a number of myths about women, some being that feminists are anti-home and anti-children and that women's friendships are hollow.

In fact, it seems to me that the common interests that Hillary Clinton and Tipper Gore have in children and education could contribute to a strong bond between them.

As a feminist, I believe that women should have every opportunity to realize their full potential, whether it be in the home or the workplace or, as is true for most of us, in both.

Most of what we learn about our social roles comes from the language and culture that surround us. This article indicates in many subtle ways that we still have a long way to go in changing the images of women in our culture.

Stephanie M. Lyon

Columbia

No Mystery

I am commenting on Thomas Easton's July 7 article concerning the continuing decline in levels of consumer debt.

Although the fact of the contraction in debt levels is presented as puzzling, neither Mr. Easton nor any of the sources he cites even alludes to the obvious, plain-as-the-nose-on-your face reason for the decline: the changes in the tax code eliminated interest on consumer debts (other than mortgage interest) as an allowable deduction.

When such interest on car loans, on charge accounts, on credit cards and on other consumer loans was deductible, consumers were more willing to incur the debt, knowing that their tax liability could be reduced.

Mr. Easton points out that mortgage and home equity loans have bucked the trend and continue to increase. That shouldn't be surprising to anyone. The interest on such loans is still deductible for income tax purposes.

If economists believe that a healthy economy requires higher levels of consumer debt (a strange belief), then the solution is simple: restore the deductibility of all consumer interest for income tax purposes.

Harris Factor

Columbia

Time to Examine Catholic Schools

Catholic School Superintendent Ronald J. Valenti's remarks touch on two issues which need much more study than they are getting.

Mr. Valenti is right. We need to "sit down and look at where we are, where we want to go." If we do, we may find that present policies have had far-reaching, unanticipated, negative effects.

New ones may be disastrous.

Several years ago the archdiocesan schools established a policy of charging tuition at cost. Subsidies provided by a parish to its school, which were reflected in tuition, were to be withdrawn from those able to pay the cost of their children's education and redirected as tuition assistance to those who needed it.

In their idealism, planners may not have foreseen that at least some of those deemed able to pay would see rising tuition as one more reason to abandon the city. Imperfect though these departing families may be, their flight is a loss not only to the schools but to the churches which support them, and to the city as well.

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