Reform Too ToughSara Engram normally writes for these...


July 04, 1995

Reform Too Tough

Sara Engram normally writes for these editorial pages with clarity and thoughtfulness on important matters about social policy.

Her recent (June 4) comments though, on Sen. Barbara Mikulski's "tough love for welfare" reform program add confusion to what should be considered a high level of ignorance.

Senator Mikulski's proposals, which take aim at "those on the margins of its society -- particularly young families that are poor and vulnerable," are tough all right.

The charge that these proposals are downright unfair -- tough! Tough love! That rhetoric we expect from the new ruling majority in Congress, but not Senator Mikulski.

Why has she so opportunisticly jumped on the narrowly defined social welfare reform bandwagon? Ms. Engram's uncritical report speaks to the terribly misguided debate about welfare reform in our society.

The demand for self-sufficiency lies at the core of the senator's proposal. But we ask self-sufficiency of no one else in our country.

When we seriously discuss welfare reform, the context should stress social security, fair and decent values and the commitment and responsibility to a common good by and for all Americans.

Senator Mikulski, as a graduate of Maryland's School of Social Work, was trained to know better than to offer up such invidious proposals that tough it out with welfare candidates.

This contract turns an indifferent eye to the poor while they are harshly mugged in the dark alleys of what passes for meaningful welfare reform.

This contract robs them blind of what little decency and social security they have. The call for self-sufficiency has simply become a code word for divisiveness, discrimination and smug self-satisfaction with having "made it" in a world only partially and conditionally generous.

We shower the middle class and affluent families, the captains of industry and corporate America, agribusiness and the military complex with countless programs that are meant to contribute to the social good.

We pay with our taxes and fiscal policies to underwrite countless

programs that create dependency by giving tax breaks, deferred payments, outright giveaways, massive subsidies and economic investments -- all in the name of our social contract for the common good -- to the non-poor.

The vast array of programs enjoyed by every middle and upper class family in this country, as well as the business climate of America, dwarfs by both size and amount of money all the social welfare programs on which Senator Mikulski picks.

If Senator Mikulski wants to rise above sheer demagogy and above values that squander and waste our sense of common good, then she needs to rethink her notions of self-dependency.

She shouldn't pick on and bully those individuals and families who originally elected her and who she, as a social worker, represented at one time as a fierce and dogged advocate.

Her quest for votes and power in the Senate is no substitute for hard-headed and warm-hearted thinking about social policy for all Americans.

David Kandel


On the Boardwalk

I support providing Ocean City with the legal authority to ban boardwalk soliciting or any other activity that interferes with the public's right to travel on the boardwalk.

The boardwalk is a great asset that facilitates non-motorized and tram travel from 27th Street to the inlet. Soliciting often draws large crowds that block the boardwalk, making non-motorized travel slow and difficult.

Not owning cars, student workers often use the boardwalk to walk or bicycle in the morning to work.

Not having to deal with lights, intersections and catching the cool ocean breeze rather than exhaust fumes makes boardwalk travel more pleasant and healthier than Baltimore or Philadelphia avenues.

With southern Ocean City being so congested, the city has a legitimate right to take measures to keep the boardwalk open for pedestrians, bicycles in non-peak hours and trams.

Although there are stores on the boardwalk, most customers enter rather than stand in the middle of the boardwalk.

Except for the oldest part of Ocean City below the pier, the city has wisely limited stores to one side of the boardwalk, leaving the scenic ocean side open for travel.

Furthermore, these stores pay taxes which help maintain the

city's infrastructure and services.

Jeffrey H. Marks


Stop Blaming

Recently a dispute broke out in the pages of The Sun and in the broadcast media involving claims and counterclaims of racism and anti-Semitism as a result of a telephone conversation between two prominent members of Baltimore's African-American and Jewish communities.

Speculation is on-going concerning the question of whose version of events is the true and accurate representation of what actually happened when Sun columnist Michael Olesker telephoned Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson.

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