Defining LiberalFrom radio, to The Sun, to the television...


September 08, 1992

Defining Liberal

From radio, to The Sun, to the television networks, we are constantly being exposed to the terms liberal and conservative. It seems to me that if we are to continue using these terms in our discussions of what America should be, we need to agree on their definitions.

Webster's Dictionary defines liberalism as that political system which promotes "the autonomy of the individual" and "protects civil liberties."

Notice, liberalism is a system involving definite economic and social goals. It may be impossible to be economically conservative and socially liberal.

Traditionally, liberals have advocated the transfer of power from a ruling class to a repressed group.

Kings who shared their power with the landed gentry were considered liberal kings. Our founding fathers, who broke away from the monarchies of Europe, were liberals. Those who argued for giving black men the right to vote were expressing liberal ideas, as were the suffragettes who supported women's rights.

Our confusion regarding the terms liberal and conservative has allowed the media to label dictators as liberal and freedom fighters conservative. How can this be? It can even be argued that it is liberals who would free the repressed fetus from a ruling class of expectant mothers!

Perhaps a good definition of a liberal is one who would extend rights, freedom and power to the most people. The "L" word may even be a good word.

Whatever the definition, we need to define our terms in order to talk with each other with understanding.

R. Thomas Holder


Population Control

The tiny article, "500 million women lack contraceptive access, report says" which was tucked away in the lower left-hand corner of page 6A (Sept. 1) did not get the attention it deserved.

In my opinion, unrestricted population growth represents the largest environmental threat to this planet.

Politicians and religious groups can argue all they want about family values and right to life, but if the population is permitted to grow without controls the magnitude of the human disasters we have seen in our lifetimes will only increase.

Why does a common sense approach to population control have to be at odds with religious doctrine and supply-side economists?

Isn't it obvious to all that there are too many people on Earth (including the United States) who simply cannot support themselves, let alone their children?

Whom would it hurt if we told these women that they don't have to get pregnant if they don't want to, and provide the simple means required to make that choice possible?

Elliott M. Simons


Amoral Pay

Is it only me, but doesn't it seem somewhat amoral for baseball players like Cal Ripken, Jr., to be earning a salary of $30.5 million in a day and age when there is so much angst going on around the world?

I mean, all he really does is hit a homer once in a while. For that, someone pays him millions of dollars while children in Somalia starve to death, and America's homeless eat out of garbage dumps.

Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear on the news that Cal turned around and pledged all but $100,000 of that annual salary to charity? It would be a nice turn of events if some of our politicians, entertainers and other sports stars did the same.

Meredith Harrington


Enough Sacrifices in Govans

Enoch Pratt Library has had prominent press coverage of late, most recently in an Aug. 23 editorial commenting on the Mayor Schmoke's controversial plan to move librarians from the city's school libraries to the understaffed Enoch Pratt system. Caught in the political and fiscal crossfire are the Pratt's branch libraries, particularly the Govans branch located in north-central Baltimore.

This branch, the fourth-busiest of 28 branches just prior to its closing for renovations in March, 1990, has remained closed for almost two and a half years. During this time, the 25,000 citizens served by Govans have been denied local library services as well as the enriching effect that a branch library has on city neighborhoods.

Your comment that ''the Pratt [should] close a few of its under-used branches and send those librarians to the school system . . .,'' coupled with additional budget cuts announced by Governor Schaefer, may seriously undermine concerned citizens' ongoing efforts to secure the swift reopening of the Govans branch library.

Why should this local library be reopened during a time of budget cuts and fiscal crisis?

For one thing, many citizens in the Govans area feel that we have already made extensive sacrifices in order for Pratt services to be maintained elsewhere. By remaining closed long after the planned reopening date, the Govans branch has saved the library (and hence city and state governments) $200,000 a year -- or almost a total of $500,000 by now -- in operation costs.

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