Double StandardWe are being barraged with double talk...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 10, 1993

Double Standard

We are being barraged with double talk about double standards.

Apologists for Saddam Hussein are crying that if the United Nations is enforcing resolutions against Iraq, why not also against Israel?

The argument is specious. Unlike its neighbors, Israel is a democracy governed by the rule of law. And the country is under constant threat for its very existence from Hamas, an Islamic fundamentalist organization.

If apologists want to talk about double standards, how about their own?

Why was no complaint raised after the Gulf War when Kuwait unceremoniously deported 300,000 Palestinians?

Why silence when the Saudis expelled hundreds of thousands of Yemeni men, women and children during the Gulf crisis? Where was the world's outcry? Where was the United Nations? And, for that matter, where were fellow Arab and Muslim states?

The real double standard is the expectation that democratic Israel play by the Marquis of Queensbury rules while Israel's dictatorship enemies play with seeming impunity by the rule of the gun.

Alfred R. Himmelrich Jr.

Baltimore

New Paradigm

Peter Jay's column of Jan. 17 reiterates the struggle that has confronted the Maryland legislature over the last several years: increased taxes versus program reductions. Both alternatives, either separate or in combination, can provide only short-term, palliative relief which tends to treat the symptoms of our fiscal illness, not provide a cure.

We need to reject the either/or alternative of more taxes or less services and challenge our political leadership to offer a third alternative of tax stability and even reduction, as well as expanded services of higher quality. Such a radical proposal will require a fundamental change in the way the business of government is to be conducted.

Our public institutions, the implementers of public policy and dispensers of goods and services produced by government, remain the villain of waste and ineptness to liberals and conservatives alike.

These institutions operate as virtual monopolies, often without regard for cost and quality of service, and with concern only for politically influential special interests.

Our government bureaucracy of blind obedience to voluminous rules and regulations with little concern for results; life tenure for public employees regardless of performance; and the emphasis on avoiding failure even at the risk of success have rendered the old means of government counterproductive and obsolete.

It has become necessary to reinvent the bureaucracy; to transform it to what has been described as an entrepreneurial form of government that will embrace market mechanisms in service delivery.

Injecting competition into service delivery focuses attention away from special interests to areas of consumer concern, whether in education, public safety or health care.

Forcing public institutions to compete with private interests sensitizes the bureaucracy to issues of cost-effectiveness, accountability and responsiveness.

For this to happen, however, public managers must be unshackled from political and bureaucratic constraints.

This effort must be much more than simply privatizing several facets of government service delivery.

It must create a new paradigm for how government must work to survive the challenges of the final decade of the 20th century.

It will require bold and creative leadership if we are to succeed.

Frank Broccolina

Towson

Visiting Rites

Melody Simmons' Jan. 28 stories on the public housing project high rises raise the question: "When are we going to get it?"

The one-night stands, instant clean-ups and violations in the use of funds for last-ditch, stop-gap measures will not resolve the many issues.

The Housing Authority and its leadership for years failed miserably to alleviate the long standing problems and conditions of human misery. The mayor's comments on the problems again translate into his action-less approach to government, called "people switch."

Let's consider a new approach and turn public housing high rises over to the private ownership/management sector. Given the monies received from Housing and Urban Development, they can do no worse.

And the antithesis would be no more bureaucracy-faulting or expert "trouble shooters," with no housing experiences but declared "managerial experiences," gliding into place.

The new Baltimore political slogan: "A place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there."

Edward R. Colbert

Baltimore

Beware of 'Alternative Grading' Schemes

I am the mother of six boys. Two attend Seven Oaks Elementary School, one attends Pine Grove Middle and one is a sophomore at Perry Hall High School. My two youngest are not yet in school.

Our elementary school is currently participating in a pilot alternative grading system in Baltimore County. Without any prior notification or information, the school informed parents (after school was under way in September) that our children would not receive report cards for this school year.

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