More ChoiceMaryland ranks 49th out of 50 states in having...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 31, 1995

More Choice

Maryland ranks 49th out of 50 states in having the least democratic, most restrictive ballot access laws. So why did the state Senate vote against ballot reform?

Because opponents feared the measure "would harm the two-party system by making it easier for fringe candidates to get on the ballot."

Really? Was the two-party system at risk prior to 1967, when Maryland's tough ballot access laws were enacted?

Do other states with more democratic ballot access laws report the difficulty that the senators feared? Certainly voters would like more choice on election day.

It is unfortunate that the entrance requirements for independent and third party candidates are set by politicians who have a vested interest in limiting the number of candidates on the ballot.

John Clapp

Bethesda

Information Age

"A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both . . .

"A people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." -- James Madison, from a letter to W. T. Barry, 1822.

The belief that an informed citizenry is the bedrock of our government is as true as it was in the first part of the 19th century. Yet Congress, at the end of the 20th century, would have us believe otherwise.

Operating under the assumption that they have a "mandate from the people," Congress has been hurriedly cutting federal expenditures without fully examining the long-term impact of these cuts.

The members of the 104th Congress are considering drastic cuts in the programs of the Government Printing Office. This includes dramatic reduction in the Federal Depository Library Program (H.R. 1024).

GPO and the Federal Depository Library Program are responsible for gathering and distributing thousands of documents, produced with our tax dollars, to public, academic and special libraries all over the United States and its territories.

Many of these documents: public laws, transcripts of committee hearings, House and Senate reports, and the Congressional Record, help to create the informed citizens whom Madison referred to.

The would-be technical wizards on Capitol Hill insist that all this information is available in electronic form, so that paper versions are duplicative and no longer needed. This is simply not true.

Programs providing free public access to select government information, like Maryland's own SAILOR or Congress' THOMAS, are the exceptions not the norm. Much of the information that the federal government produces is still available only on paper and only through the Federal Depository Library Programs.

If this is indeed the information age, as political and business leaders claim, and if information is power, why does Congress want to limit the public's access to government-produced information?

Bill Sleeman

Baltimore

Infinity

Allow me to disagree with Cape Canaveral astronomers who, when the ultraviolet telescope aboard space ship Endeavour zoomed in on a quasar, cheered and said the quasar was near the "edge" of the universe, 60 sextillion miles away.

Our universe, as we know it, is part of the Milky Way, made up of planets, their moons and billions of stars, best explained in the Bible as "more than all the sand upon the seashore."

Beyond the Milky Way is the Andromeda galaxy, even greater than our Milky Way. And beyond Andromeda, who knows?

Between here and there, not above or below, right or left, or front or back, only "beyond," there are no edges and no corners. Not even beyond 60 sextillion miles away.

Frank Novak

Baltimore

Disinformation

I thought the dispute regarding the subsidized school lunch program was settled when the Republicans stated their support for increasing funding for this program.

But here is Rep. Benjamin Cardin at Owings Mills Elementary School, following similar forays by President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton attacking Republican plans to reduce funding. "It's clear the Republicans are trying to abolish these programs," said Mr. Cardin.

Shame on Mr. Cardin for misrepresenting the facts of this argument and shame on The Sun for perpetuating this campaign of disinformation. Very simply, the Republicans want to slow the annual rate of increase and the Democrats want to increase the annual rate of increase.

Stephen A. Hall

Baltimore

Feeling Better

Recently, The Sun reported that Baltimore's population will probably drop to fewer than 700,000 people for the first time since World War I.

Michael Olesker and various individuals writing to The Sun have lamented this situation, citing all of the factors which contributed to the middle-class flight from the city.

Gubernatorial candidate and WBAL talk show host Ellen Sauerbrey even encouraged her listeners to call in to talk about what drove them from the city.

Granted, there are negative forces at work in Baltimore. At the same time, we should not write off Baltimore's enduring tradition of vibrant and proud neighborhoods.

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