Family CapI must confess to disbelief when I read your...


March 01, 1994

Family Cap

I must confess to disbelief when I read your editorial, "Schaefer's Family Cap" (Feb. 14).

You state that advocates for the poor who object to the family cap -- a policy recommendation to deny a welfare grant increment of about $80 to a child born into a welfare family -- should go along with the recommendation, simply because the political reality of the issue gives it widespread public support.

You also state the family cap policy is symbolic.

While most of us expect elected officials to reflect their constituents' beliefs, we also should expect that they will do their best to educate us about the effects of their policy decisions.

The facts are that women on welfare do not have children to earn money and that families on welfare are on average small. In 1969, the typical welfare family had three children; today, the typical family has only one child.

Where is the justification for denying a poor woman needed support for an additional child? Should we hurt mothers and children just to feel better?

Meanwhile, the rest of society fully expects increased tax deductions and increased take home pay after filing a new W-2 form to support their new family member.

When elected officials adopt policies in response to the views of their constituents, without attempting to educate them on the effects of that policy, they are doing only half their jobs.

Symbolism, as you characterize the family cap, is useful only when its effects are symbolic.

A welfare family which already lives below the state's declared minimum living level does not consider another reduction in their grant, by any name, symbolic.

The reality for that family is further deprivation and deeper poverty.

Rev. Ed Heim


The writer is director of the Lutheran Office on Public Policy.

Wrong Patronage

Each year, millions of dollars of state money are given out by Maryland legislators as scholarship awards to students.

In 1994, these awards will total over $7 million. By law, students must have financial need to qualify for a scholarship, but it is up to the state senators and delegates ultimately to decide who will receive the funds.

Each of the 47 senators has $123,000 per year, and each of the 140 delegates has $10,600 per year available to give out in the Legislative Scholarship Program.

Legislators receive political benefits from distributing scholarship funds to constituents. Small awards to many constituents help incumbents get reelected. On average, the amount of a scholarship is about $300.

In recent years, Common Cause of Maryland has led the efforts to inform the voters of what The Sun of Jan. 30 correctly called the "Scholarship Scam." United We Stand, America-MD applauds Common Cause and joins with it and many other organizations in support of Senate Bill 145.

Passage of S.B. 145 would abolish the legislative scholarship program and transfer the funds to the general state scholarship program.

Most delegates realize their $10,600 perk is not worth the increasing public scorn. We hope the senators will also decide that their perk, though much larger, no longer is in their best interest.

Daniel R. Tewell


The writer is Anne Arundel County coordinator of United We Stand, America-MD.

Tax Break for All

We note with dismay the proposal of a graduated property tax bill designed only for owners of luxury condominiums at Baltimore's HarborView development.

The reluctance of the Baltimore delegation to endorse enabling legislation to benefit such a narrow constituency is justified.

The idea of graduated property taxes, particularly for first-time buyers or those making significant investments in property rehabilitation, is a good one.

At the first meeting of the Citizens United for the Revitalization of Baltimore (CURB) on Feb. 17, this idea was specifically cited by one speaker as an excellent means of promoting home ownership and returning vacant properties to the tax rolls.

After being outlined by a mayoral task force last year, however, it apparently was not embraced at City Hall as a strategy to attract residents of moderate income.

Sales at this particular development may well be disappointing. For those neighborhoods beyond the Inner Harbor, without a picture postcard view, a strategy that would promote investment and renewal would be welcome news.

The mayor and state legislators should strongly consider a graduated property tax incentive which would serve a broader population.

Townes C. Coates


The writer is organization coordinator of Citizens United for the Revitalization of Baltimore.

Islamic Feminism

After reading the article "Muslim women claim faith offers a better feminism" (Feb. 15), I was concerned with the group's attitude toward feminism.

Zainab Asad obviously doesn't understand feminism when she said, "Feminists want their rights, but don't they want protection? . . . They want to go into the workplace, and yet they don't want to be abused."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.