Who says state workers have 'Cadillac' plan?The next time...

the Forum

March 22, 1994

Who says state workers have 'Cadillac' plan?

The next time someone tells me that Canadian-style national health care would limit my wonderful freedom of choice and access to quality medical care, I'm going to laugh.

I'm a state employee with the Blue Cross-Blue Shield plan that The Baltimore Sun has dubbed "the Cadillac of health insurance."

Now I need surgery on my inner ear that will leave me unbelievably nauseous and dizzy for at least 24 hours. I know, because that's what happened to me last time I had this procedure, 16 years ago. Then I was hospitalized for three days.

But Blue Cross-Blue Shield has denied my doctor's judgment and my wish for inpatient treatment. They want me in and out on the same day -- no muss, no fuss.

I could be home in time to fix dinner for my family: one dog, two cats and a 10-year-old boy. They sure won't be fixing dinner for me.

I guess my "Cadillac" is running out of gas.

Lizbeth T. Binks


History of pledge

The young high school women who were embarrassed to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Loyalty Day contest (March 10) perhaps were not disinterested in their country.

Educational studies have shown that elementary school children do not understand the words in the pledge and that older students are bored by its daily recitation. The present pledge ceremony is not a sign of intelligent citizenship.

For example, do any of the VFW's contest judges know who wrote the pledge? Answer: Francis Bellamy, 1855-1931. The time and place? He wrote it for the Public School Celebration for Columbus Day and it appeared in the September 8, 1892, issue of the Youth's Companion in Boston. Why did he keep the word "equality" out of the pledge? He wrote it for the nation's state superintendents of education, who did not believe in equality for the segregated blacks and disfranchised women of 1892.

Other pledge questions include why he resented the addition of "of the United States of America" to his pledge in the early 1920s and why his grandchildren said he would have resented the addition to his pledge of "under God" in 1954.

Hint -- Francis was active in his cousin Edward Bellamy's socialist campaign to nationalize the American economy, from 1888 to 1896.

The pledge is a living American creed like the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Like our Constitution, it has responded to our nation's domestic conflicts. The public has changed it about every 30 years.

Perhaps next year the VFW could incorporate critical thinking about the pledge and the other Bellamy writings into the loyalty contest and discover if the students would respond more to a living, historical pledge than a ritualistic flag salute.

John W. Baer


Hall's integrity

Regarding Wiley A. Hall's Feb. 24 column titled "Let's let sensible people settle gun-control issues," I would like to offer my highest praise and commendation to Mr. Hall, for his integrity and accuracy.

I was interviewed by Mr. Hall and quoted practically verbatim.

Continue the excellent work!

Steven F. Manekin


Shell game

The federal government isn't just talking about cutting entitlements, they already are doing it.

The lead article in the January-March issue of Army Echoes, the official bulletin for army retirees, concludes that "the [cost of living adjustment] for fiscal years 1995 through 1998 will be delayed for non-disability retirements until September of each following year."

The operative word, "delayed," is misleading: the true meaning is that there will be no COLA rise in 1995.

Last year retirees were notified by letter that the COLA rise scheduled to take effect Jan. 1 would be "delayed" for three months.

What this meant was that the great majority of retirees would lose the amount of their COLA rise for the first three months of this year.

What the Army authorities now have chosen to do is freeze military retirement pay after the modest 2.6 percent "delayed" COLA increase of March 1.

I feel that there will be more of this fiscal shell game to come.

P. R. Politano


Safe-sex methods must be taught to all

The age-old conflict between science and religion has never manifested itself more clearly nor cost more lives, both potentially and actually, than in the debate over the advocacy of condom use and education.

Conservative extremists and religious leaders continue to reject scientific fact. Condoms are no longer simply a means of birth control, but rather have become a means to guard oneself and others against sexually transmitted diseases.

Would those who approve the education of our youth concerning the use of condoms also condemn the mandatory screening of blood? I think not. And yet, each is equally a means of preventing the spread of potentially fatal diseases among young and old alike.

Knowledge is like any other tool. We hope that scientific facts and discoveries will be used both morally and ethically.

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