James Bock's "disquieting portrait" of Baltimore (July 10) represents a statistical juggling of conclusions. Does poverty really breed such social ills as poor students, crime and amorality? Or is it the reverse?
I recall my immigrant grandparents came to this country only to live in wretched conditions on the lower East Side of New York with precious little food, with public bathrooms, with children sleeping three in a bed, and with young boys having to wear their sister's dresses.
And you know what? Many of the products of this generation grew to adulthood self-reliant and left their slums because they could afford to.
They didn't have the "luxury" of welfare programs or social security. They had to work, and were required to go to school. Necessity spawns imagination.
Angry Notch Baby
Your July 8 editorial "Pandering to the Notch Babies" entitles you to read a few words from this normally contented male born just 6 weeks into the year 1917.
When I applied for my first check on reaching 65, I questioned the smaller amount of my Social Security total compared to a dear friend born in 1916.
I was politely told that this difference was no problem because Congress had plans formulating to equalize our check retroactively within the next six months. A true government fairy tale.
If Rep. Barney Frank from Massachusetts and a few members of Congress purpose to correct the problem by increasing the benefits to the "notch babies," I say more power to them. They are not giving us anything that we don't deserve.
You were right when you called us a small group, to which you should have added we are also shrinking fast since most of us "notchers" could very well be removed from the Social Security rolls within a few years by our creator, thereby making the entire subject moot. After all, our average age is close to 75.
Victor J. Levenson
As predicted, the Democratic Party is promoting itself as the party of "change." Bill Clinton and Al Gore are correct that the country needs change.
But it is amusing and sad to watch them try to substitute youthful good looks for the fact that they offer the same stale approach to government that both parties have endorsed -- in varying degrees -- for decades.
For the past 12 years, the Reagan and Bush administrations have been timid proponents of free market economic policies. Now, we are paying the price for the reality that Republican policies did not go far enough.
Both the Reagan and Bush administrations -- based on their actual budget proposals rather than their lip service to capitalism and freedom -- have essentially favored a continuation of massive government intervention of the past 75 years. Under these administrations, government authorities continued to seize private, earned income so it could be redistributed to the unearned.
The country is at a legitimate turning point in asking itself: Where do we go from here?
It is tragic that the failures of Mr. Reagan and Mr. Bush -- like those of Herbert Hoover -- are to be blamed on too much capitalism, when the reality is that their failures were due to too little capitalism.
Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore have an unprecedented opportunity to exploit our latest national malaise. If they are successful, they will be able to impose the completion of the socialist nightmare begun by Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. This, at a time when big governments throughout the rest of the world are being forced to shut their doors for good.
America does not need to change administrations so much as its attitude toward individual rights and capitalism. Our founders understood that the individual is the smallest minority of all -- and that the individual's greatest enemy is big government.
Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore are the embodiment of bigger and more repressive government. Genuine change is the last thing on their minds.
Michael J. Hurd
The Sun recently reported that "Maryland's insurance commissioner accused the state's largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maryland, of poor management."
Among the excesses noted were high executive salaries and the purchase of a skybox at Oriole Park.
Several weeks earlier I had received my quarterly bill from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The bill notified me that "the state insurance division has approved new rates for your Blue Cross and Blue Shield program. This adjustment is reflected in your bill."
Well, it sure is nice to know that the state insurance division is on top of things.
I note with sorrow the passing of Leon Sachs. I had the privilege of appearing before Mr. Sachs as counsel to the mayor and city council of Baltimore on more than 100 occasions when he served as a hearing officer for the Baltimore City Civil Service Commission in the early 1980s during the latter part of his illustrious career.