Highway SpeedTraffic generally flows on Maryland's...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

January 19, 1995

Highway Speed

Traffic generally flows on Maryland's highways at an average speed of 65 to 70 mph. Often I am even passed on the left by patrol cars cruising along at more than 75 mph.

A couple times a month, however, the police seem to come out in droves to enforce the 55 mph limit. It can be questioned if the police timing of enforcement coincides with their monthly performance evaluations.

Let's put an end to this cat-and-mouse game by raising the limit to 65 mph on Maryland's highways.

Perhaps the sound logic of Parris N. Glendening's proposal to raise the limits on highways in Western Maryland will be extended throughout the state.

Kent Gomm

Burtonsville

Monarch's Art

George H. Callcott's heartfelt and well-reasoned plea for the Maryland Humanities Council ("Louis XIV's Pet Government Handout," Opinion * Commentary, Jan. 9) is only marred by its title, and the article's statement that "Louis XIV would have loved the National Endowment for the Humanities."

The appeal to historical examples to justify modern-day funding of the arts by governments, which is frequently made in such discussions, betrays a lack of historical understanding which surprises in the case of a history professor at the University of Maryland.

Louis XIV did not payroll artists to "cultivate ancient truths," but rather to cultivate the cult of himself. He was not interested in uplifting his fellow human beings' lives, but in promoting a glorious image of himself as king.

He bought art by the yard, just as he bought silk tapestries and gilded doorknobs. He did not open Versailles on Sundays for peasants to take their kids through the royal apartments, not did he pay for musicians to give outdoor concerts for the populace.

A monarch's reasons for buying the services of artists had little to do with our own motivations for supporting artistic creation. Louis XIV had strong artistic opinions, and was not interested in fostering freedom of thought and diversity.

He appointed his favorite composer as minister of music, with a veto on all music published in the kingdom. In exchange, Lully and his successors wrote music for his chapel and his dinners. Any outside ventures, like the Opera in Paris, were operated as a business venture.

Whenever today's politicians presume to express opinions on art, or even (shudder!) threaten to cut funds for artistic endeavors they dislike, we shriek and denounce "censorship." Louis XIV had no qualms firing anyone whose work was not to his liking.

Here is the modern-day equivalent to Louis XIV's "government handout": Bill Clinton appoints Fleetwood Mac minister of music, increases the National Endowment for the Art's budget tenfold but devotes it all to redecorating the White House (now closed to visitors) and throws in jail anyone who complains.

I don't think we need to appeal to 17th century concepts of "government handouts" to justify our policies.

Francois R. Velde

Baltimore

Tax Cut Pain

The Republicans are promising tax cuts of $1.2 trillion by the year 2002. Rep. Gerald Solomon, R-N.Y., says that "cuts are [to be] painful as hell."

Well, yes and absolutely! These cuts will be inordinately hard on the poor and the middle class. But most assuredly, there will be a capital gains tax reduction for the rich.

There will be no money for natural disasters such as the current floods in California, probably no Federal Emergency Management Agency; 20 percent cuts in Medicare and in Medicaid; cuts in welfare for people who need it; cuts in infant care, environmental protection, occupational safety, the Food and Drug Administration, foreign aid, research in energy, Head Start, student loans, etc. Baltimore City will not get $100 million for empowerment zones.

There are virtually no programs that cannot be cut. There will be cuts in the clinics for the Baltimore medical systems for the poor and destitute, cuts in the nearly non-existent programs for the 39 million Americans who have no health coverage.

We are being told that the government is not the solution. It is the problem. And yet in a very real sense we are the government.

Rep. Dick Armey, D-Tex., says once Congress knows exactly the pain that goes with a balanced budget, "their knees will buckle."

Well, so much for smoke and mirrors. We must elect representatives who have the guts to lead and can be

depended on to manage our government so that it lives within its means.

But we have elected a bunch who are gutless and cannot be fiscally responsible unless they are forced to be by an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

They don't trust themselves, and they don't trust us. We don't really need 535 care-takers. Let's privatize Congress.

David Armacost

Baltimore

Abusing Sheep

Shearling coats, made of skin and wool ripped from sheep, are not more acceptable than fur, as your fashion editor reports (Jan. 5).

If they are "showing up in places where the mink pack fears to tread," it is only because people know more about the cruelties of fur ranching and trapping then they do about the sheep industry.

Most people have seen videotaped footage of foxes frantically pacing in tiny cages and coyotes bludgeoned to death in leghold traps, but few have visited the slaughterhouses where sheep hang suspended by one leg while workers slit their throats.

When the public learns about the abuses of the meat and leather industries, shearling will go the way of fur.

Kathy Guillermo

Washington

The writer is a staff writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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