Fuel Tax HikeWhile we can pardon President Clinton, in the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 21, 1993

Fuel Tax Hike

While we can pardon President Clinton, in the light of the federal deficit, for back-stepping on his commitment to a middle class tax cut, it is imperative that his administration understand the regressive nature of a fuel tax increase.

For example, the Congressional Budget Office has reported that families in the bottom fifth of income distribution spent nearly five times as high a share of their income on motor fuel as families in the top fifth.

Other CBO figures indicate that rural families spend 40 percent more on fuel than families nationally.

I also need to point out that a government cannot raise revenues by forcing companies out of business. A record 2,000 trucking companies across the nation closed their doors in 1991, and the profit margin for the industry has remained a mere 2 percent for two years.

A fuel tax hike would be detrimental to an industry still struggling to recover, and which employs one out of every 12 residents of Maryland. A sharp tax increase may cost many of them their jobs.

On a local level, Marylanders need to think of what a fuel tax increase would do to our still-fragile state economy. Tourism and resort businesses are dependent on consumers who drive to get there. The proposed increase would deter them from spending as much time on the road.

Federal gasoline taxes have risen 253 percent in the last decade -- and federal diesel taxes have increased 403 percent.

I wish President Clinton the best in his efforts to revitalize our economy, but I hope he realizes what harm would be done by raising fuel taxes yet again.

James R. Jones

Baltimore

PD The writer is president of the Maryland Motor Truck Association.

Writer's ID

A letter in the Feb. 6 edition of The Sun has confused a number of people about its authorship.

There is more than one person in Bel Air with the name George Harrison. This particular George Harrison did not write the Feb. 6 letter.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify this matter.

George F. Harrison Jr.

Bel Air

L The writer is public information officer for Harford County.

Helping Others

Patrick Ercolano's column, "For Students to Find Their Strengths" (Feb. 6), skillfully points out the myriad reasons why the community-service requirement for public-school students should, at the very least, be given a trial run.

Surely 75 hours of service spread out over a four-year period from 9th to 12th grade should not prove an undue burden for anyone. Devoting a mere 30 minutes a week to a worthy cause, of one's own choosing, is hardly unreasonable.

And the argument that this requirement amounts to "involuntary servitude" is unfounded. In order to graduate, students are required to do all sorts of things they may not want to do, such as take a certain number of English and math classes and pass proficiency tests.

But these things are for their benefit, namely, to ensure that they receive an adequate education before leaving the school system.

The value of community service cannot be taught in a classroom. I am fortunate to have parents who believe in giving of themselves to the community, and so I learned the lesson of charity at home, but not everyone is as lucky as I.

Therefore, the community-service requirement is an appropriate way to ensure that all students supplement their academic knowledge with a measure of social concern.

If approached with an open attitude, the benefits that students will receive from this program are innumerable. As Mr. Ercolano stated, students may discover new strengths: They may gain insights into future careers; they may develop a true understanding of those less fortunate than themselves.

Most important, students will experience firsthand a critical lesson: that they have the power to make a real difference in the lives of others.

Susan Hughes Gray

Towson

Changing Times

My, how things change. A former student of mine sent me a clipping from the The Sun of Feb. 1. It included information about people and places I knew, once. . .

In 1977, when Bishop Kallistos Ware (mentioned in the article) was telling Anglicans to stay with the Anglican Church, I left it. Now according to you, he is saying: "Orthodoxy will only survive in the 21st century, if we choose to be Orthodox . . . by inner conversion. . ."

The Orthodox Church, notwithstanding your extraordinarily positive article, is in danger of dying in this country.

It loses more members than the Episcopal Church, which lost one member every 5 minutes, during the last 20 years I was with it. (My presence had nothing to do with it!)

Perhaps all those Episcopalians who want to keep the ancient faith and practice of the Orthodox Catholic Church should convert, en masse.

The "Orthodox" who hang on only because Yaiya (Greek for "Grandma") was actually Orthodox could go over to the Episcopalians and raise the religious quotient of both churches.

If we are going to wait for some "inner conversion," the Orthodox Church is doomed.

Rev. Andrew L. J. James

Columbus, Ohio

No Danger

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