Female-Headed HouseholdBen Wattenberg (Opinion...


October 03, 1994

Female-Headed Household

Ben Wattenberg (Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 23) refers to ''the rise of the FHH (female-headed household) that plagues us today.'' Having raised two children on my own to be college-educated, tax-paying, productive adults, I took exception to this phrase. I know many women who have successfully managed households and raised fine children on their own. No plague here.

Rather than lump all FHHs together and refer to them in a pejorative manner, one needs to pay attention to the educational and socioeconomic level of the mother. An educated woman with a good job or profession is well-equipped to provide a nurturing and stimulating environment for her children.

On the other hand, both single mothers and two-parent families who are poor, uneducated, uninterested in education or cultural activities will produce children who are like themselves.

Let's be fair to hard-working women raising children and not compare apples to oranges. Judgments should be made based on socioeconomic factors, not automatically along gender lines.

Carol Calvert


Ashamed of City

The front page story Sept. 22 reporting on the HUD audit of the Baltimore City Housing Department evokes an extraordinary sense of tragedy and loss in those of us who have worked with many dedicated city and state employees to identify and solve the difficult problems of lead-based paint poisoning.

That Baltimore, the city where childhood lead poisoning was first clearly defined and where the first effective programs of prevention were instituted 50 years ago by Huntington Williams, should come to this terrible pass is one of the saddest events imaginable in public health.

Too often we are tempted to consider problems like lead poisoning insoluble. This is understandable, although never a rationale for paralysis. But when we knowingly contribute to such problems, through neglect, oversight or malfeasance, this is unforgivable. The irreversible damage that may have been done to children through the failure to prevent their exposure to lead paint in city housing will rest heavy on all of us as we bear the burden of their lost potential for the rest of their lives.

This news made me for the first time ashamed to come from Baltimore.

Ellen Silbergeld


Yeltsin's Vision

The steps which Russian President Boris Yeltsin proposed in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly read like a blue print for progress in the world on a number of fronts and make obvious good sense. He has linked together measures to deal with several of the most destabilizing issues we face today. His vision for the future is like a breath of fresh air in stark contrast to the stale atmosphere of the Clinton Defense Department which seems still stuck in the Cold War mentality.

Included in Mr. Yeltsin's outline were further reductions in the number of existing nuclear weapons, ending production of nuclear munitions and nuclear weapons materials, a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty by 1996, extending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, regulating weapons sales, initiating a treaty on nuclear security and holding a conference on converting military factories to civilian use.

The period since the first nuclear weapons were used has been one of the most, if not the most, tense and unstable eras human civilization has known. There has been peace only in the very limited sense that nuclear weapons have been used only as threats. There have been continual wars using conventional weapons -- indeed, armed conflicts continue to rage today and seem to be proliferating.

Nuclear weapons are one of the most destabilizing influences in the world today. The recent Persian Gulf war was fought at least partially to counter the perceived threat of Iraqi nuclear weapons development. The arms race in the Middle East and the associated tension in that region are at least partially due to Israel's possession of nuclear weapons. Thinly veiled threats by the United States to resort to military measures to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program clearly demonstrated how de-stabilizing nuclear weapons really are.

It is time for the Clinton administration to wake up and realize that, contrary to the popular wisdom, nuclear weapons are not, and never were, a stabilizing influence in the world. It is just plain foolish in today's world to hold on to the tattered security blanket of nuclear weapons.

J. Wayne Ruddock


Carter Deal

The column by Roger Simon, Sept. 21, headlined ''Haiti accord makes Jimmy Carter look good; GOP ticked off," suggests that Simon says things only a true Democrat wants to hear.

If the Haiti fiasco leaving Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras in power makes Carter look good, some of us lost our rose-colored glasses. The same goes for the Korea deal.

Nothing is really settled in either place, and both will cost us billions as we try to buy our way out one way or another.

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