Level the Transportation Playing FieldNow that the...


October 31, 1994

Level the Transportation Playing Field

Now that the baseball strike has slowed the hoopla around Camden Yards, and the Redskin stadium proposal has collapsed over the prospects of an avalanche of automobiles, perhaps it is time for some sober reflection on transportation in general, and specifically on the role of Camden Station.

As everyone knows, Camden Station, built to serve train passengers, has been made into a baseball trophy display.

In fact, thousands of train riders embark and debark at Camden daily and need both shelter and services, which should be provided in the building that was built for that purpose -- Camden Station.

Passengers transferring from or to the adjacent trolley line also need shelter and services in Camden Station.

Surely such daily human needs vastly outweigh baseball trophies, which could be housed elsewhere in the former warehouse complex next door.

As Herbert Harwood and James Dilts have amply shown in their respective books on the building of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, this was a great public undertaking in the truest sense.

Yet, thanks to a century of distorted government policies, we have seen the massive aggrandizement of government, the growth of massive public subsidies, all of which have suppressed the effectiveness and efficiency of the rail

road the people themselves built and financed.

Government does not run airlines, or car companies, so why should it be running passenger trains? Obviously, the railroad companies can do it better and cheaper, if the subsidies for competing modes end.

The true cost to operate an automobile is $1 a mile per car; of this, the owner pays about 40 cents per mile and public subsidy pays the remaining 60 cents per mile.

No wonder government is always broke. As Stephen Goddard demonstrates in his recent book, "Getting There," gasoline should be $2.25 more per gallon to cover all the true costs of driving.

No wonder the railroads are hobbled, and citizens are angry over excessive taxes. The time has come to level the transportation playing field and return to allowing the railroads to do what they can do most effectively and efficiently.

Joseph J. Snyder

Shepherdstown, W. Va.

Intrusive Ban

I am really astonished by the federal government's latest intrusion into the lives of its citizens. The attempt by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to ban smoking in all restaurants is a new low, among many recent lows, in government officiousness.

Has the idea of private property really become so meaningless that one can no longer set the policies in his own establishment?

Sadly, the answer seems pretty clear. The government wants to dictate every decision, down to whether you can put ashtrays on the tables of your restaurant.

Surely OSHA is one candidate, among many, for sizable budget cuts, if it really has come to believe that its mission is to root out any remaining pockets of individual choice.

Lee Gable


Save the Tapes

Alysa Moores (letter, Oct. 14) is right on target. The grocery stores' "Tapes for Schools" programs can widen the opportunity gap between low-income and upper-income children. But it need not necessarily work out that way.

The Renaissance Institute at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland is also concerned about the unequal educational opportunities of Baltimore's inner city kids.

As a remedy they have started a Save the Tapes program. We urge all people who shop at Safeway, Giant or Metro to send their grocery tapes to this constructive, innovative program.

In the spring, the proceeds will go to the neediest Baltimore inner-city school(s) with the highest attendance record(s).

Washington has such a program and has been able to equip several schools with computer labs. Why not Baltimore?

Send your grocery tapes to: Save the Tapes, Renaissance Institute, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, 4701 North Charles Street, 21210-2476. Tapes can be mailed weekly or monthly.

Susan P. Tippett


Vietnam Veterans

I am writing not to excuse, just to explain, the Oct. 19 Associated Press article on the use of drugs, addiction and mortality rate of Vietnam veterans.

The average age of the soldiers in Vietnam was 19, compared to 26 for those who fought in World War II.

For the greater majority, after six months of training, cast into the harsh environment of war, death, prostitution and drugs, this was probably the first time they had been away from home.

The constant fear of death makes it easy to look for a release, and it was there. In every way, shape and form. Buying drugs tTC was as easy as getting a candy bar in the corner store, and the consensus was, "If you get it today (killed or wounded), you won't feel it."

For those who don't know, war isn't pleasant. The sight and smell of death and mutilation is not a pretty sight.

Maybe if there was more understanding and concern when we came home 26 years ago, these men wouldn't be such a statistic in a newspaper.

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