State ComparisonsIn his Nov. 29 column, Barry Rascovar...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 28, 1992

State Comparisons

In his Nov. 29 column, Barry Rascovar discussed the state's budget situation but ignored actions taken by the state to downsize government and made several dubious comparisons with other states.

He suggested the state merge overlapping departments and stop "nipping a bit" at agency budgets. Unfortunately, the "overlapping" agencies were not identified and "nipping" was not defined.

Several agencies have been split up recently: Juvenile Services from Health and Housing from Economic Development. But it is hard to argue these are overlapping functions. As to nipping at the budget, many state agencies were cut by 25 percent in two years and the state eliminated 4,500 non-public-safety positions.

Comparisons were made in the article that just don't make sense.

For example, it was said that Pennsylvania and Virginia dealt more appropriately with the recession than Maryland. Virginia solved its shortfall by slashing local aid below prior year levels and reducing pension contributions, without reducing benefits. This merely passed the problem to another level of government and another generation of taxpayers.

By comparison, cuts to local aid in Maryland were reductions to mandated increases. Local aid in fiscal year 1993 is still above 1992 levels. Maryland has also continued to meet its financial obligations to the pension system.

Despite the comparison in the article, Pennsylvania was not impacted by the recession as much as Maryland. For example, Maryland's job loss was almost four times that of Pennsylvania, and personal income grew at a slower rate in Maryland.

In summary, the column ignored the progress made to downsize state government and made inconsistent comparisons to neighboring states.

!Frederick W. Puddester

Annapolis

The writer is deputy secretary, state Department of Budget and Fiscal Planning.

Dust Bowls

The Horn of Africa has seen more drought, famine, civil war and the upheaval of the little governments there than most places in Africa. These little countries turned dust bowls owe this reality to missionaries who unwisely had nomadic herds-people turn to an agrarian life and resulting desertification.

If the region needs anything, it isn't a military presence but foodstuffs from the Western Horn of Good and Plenty, coupled with agrarian experts. The Persian Gulf model of desalinization would lend to irrigation. Starvation does exist. To have a military force doling out care packages doesn't seem like any long- term solution.

I hope the Somalis aren't frightened by the troops and the insurgency into thinking they are in the middle or dead center of a conflict. Would either side shoot over their starving heads?

George M. Melvich

Dundalk

Gays in Military

Once again the press reported inaccurate information in order to support its agenda. Your Dec. 6 editorial, "The Best People, Gay or Straight," tries to prove the acceptability of homosexuals in other countries' militaries by stating, "Every other NATO force but Britain's has stopped banning homosexuals." This is, in fact, not true.

There are ten of 15 European/North American countries that have restrictions on homosexuals. They are Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries limit homosexuals in various ways, including terminating enlistments, preventing promotions or denying duty aboard warships. Of the NATO countries with no restrictions, Canada just changed its policy and the consequences are uncertain. In the Royal Dutch Navy, an official 1990 study found that 18 years after ending the ban on homosexuals in the service there still are serious related problems affecting morale and combat readiness.

Bill McCamy

Arlington, Va.

Face Reality on Murder Rate

As Marylanders continue to murder each other at an alarming rate, once again The Sun focuses the entire blame on guns.

You ignore the drugs, the broken homes, the poverty. You ignore the fact that banning drugs, banning alcohol, banning anything only raises the cost as long as people still want the item.

You ignore the fact that there is no evidence in the U.S. that restricting gun sales has any effect on the murder rate. Amazingly, the cities with the most restrictive firearms regulations (Washington or New York) also have the highest murder rates.

Why does The Sun continue to promote simplistic red herring "solutions" to our problems of domestic violence?

The answers to our difficulties are multifaceted and complex, and the sooner we face reality, the better off we'll be.

Gordon Shelton

Towson

The Essence of Hinduism

Tragic events of this month should compel every Hindu to ponder over the meaning of being a Hindu.

Does Hinduism teach its followers to destroy places of worship of others, especially when it is known that such an act will instantaneously create an atmosphere of utter chaos, violence, death and destruction all over the Indian subcontinent?

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