Welfare ImagesUsually I read Ben Wattenberg's column with...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 18, 1993

Welfare Images

Usually I read Ben Wattenberg's column with the expectation of encountering a fresh, informed and reasoned view of issues. Sadly, in the Aug. 12 column dealing with the Clinton budget he did not disappoint me until the end when he dealt with "counterproductive entitlements."

We have created a growing dependency class. It is destroying families, blighting communities and souring the county, he said.

The fact is that during 50 years of getting to know and serve people receiving public welfare, I have never heard one admit to satisfaction with their status. To the contrary, the expression most often heard was, "I want to get a job and get off welfare."

The fault, dear Ben, is not in the recipient but in our national attitude toward these entitlements. We say to the recipients they are worthless; thus, they begin to feel worthless and slide into the image which he correctly says is souring the country.

There is no difference in the diverse quality of humanity based on the product of man-made achievement symbols. Welfare reform is needed mainly in our national mind-set.

Where is my proof?

All die, whether on or off welfare.

David E. Sloan

Baltimore

Armenia's Plight

I fully agree with your Aug. 7 editorial addressing the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Hostilities must stop and peace given a chance.

It was Stalin's diabolic scheme of divide and rule that handed over Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh, part of historic Armenia, to Azerbaijan and subjected its people to 70 years of repression and discriminatory treatment.

When Gorbachev opened up Soviet society, Armenia and Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh petitioned Moscow for reunification, citing the principle of self-determination of peoples.

Azerbaijan's response following the collapse of the Soviet Union was pogroms, massacres, the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.

As further punishment, it blockaded landlocked Armenia, making it virtually impossible for Armenia to have a chance to recover from the devastating earthquake of 1988.

It has now been five years of escalating hostilities, death and destruction. Unless peace is espoused no one can start rebuilding their lives.

S. Kurkjian Smith

Baltimore

Gun as Enemy

With the hundreds of letters published pro and con gun control, one vital component has not been sufficiently addressed. That is the element of surprise.

Unless you remain at home with your gun at the ready, your gun will not protect you from anything. Your home could be robbed while you're on vacation, your car could be stolen or car-jacked, your daughter could be raped, you or your wife mugged.

The element of surprise has victimized many a well-trained, experienced policeman who has paid with his life or been seriously maimed.

As we go about our daily activities our minds filled with all the things we have to do, with life's stresses and problems, in a moment we could feel a gun in our ribs. The criminal is stealthy, savvy and cunning; we are naive. His mind and focus are solely on entrapping us and catching us off guard for his own personal gain.

Guns are not his enemy, they are ours.

Miriam Topel

Baltimore

Depression

Your editorial of Aug. 12 ("Vincent Foster's Legacy") reflects the continued ignorance that so many well-intentioned people still share about mental illness.

If Mr. Foster could speak from the grave, I am quite sure that he would not want to be remembered for the incoherent ramblings found in a shredded "suicide note." More aptly, he would probably want his greatest legacy to include a public awareness of the illness that so clearly led to his death -- clinical depression.

Trying to make some sense out of the jottings in his brief case is analogous to attempting to read a fine-print book by the light of a firefly.

The darkness that enveloped Vincent Foster in his last, troubled days surely precluded much rational thought and surely included strong feelings of paranoia and delusional thinking.

There is little point in performing a psychological autopsy based on the ruminations of a man whose thought-processes were completely out of sync.

While many Americans today have some limited knowledge of the physical symptoms of depression (sadness, sleep disturbances, weight loss/gain) and perhaps even the psychological signs, few understand the effect that this illness has on the intellect.

In the throes of a clinical depression, it is extremely difficult for a patient to concentrate or think clearly. Often a very bright person becomes totally numb, unable to formulate simple sentences or master the most basic intellectual tasks.

Reading a paragraph and grasping its contents becomes as difficult as understanding the Pythagorean theory. Writing down simple thoughts becomes a Herculean task. If you administer an I.Q. test to a Mensa member suffering from this illness, he will most likely be categorized in the "dull-normal" range.

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