Budget debate is 200 years oldEarly in our nation's...

LETTERS

January 15, 1996

Budget debate is 200 years old

Early in our nation's history public opinion crystallized into two political parties, Federalist and Republican.

Most of the influential Federalists, led by Alexander Hamilton, wanted a strong centralized government with a homespun "aristocracy" directing the nation's affairs. The Republicans distrusted what they considered to be monarchical tendencies in the financial maneuvers of the new U.S. government. They were led by Thomas Jefferson.

In 1796, the entire federal budget was $5.7 million. In Congress, the Federalist and Republican members argued back and forth. The main topic of their often vindictive dissension was how to balance the budget.

Alexandra Lee Levin

Baltimore

Reader thanks Republicans

I would like to personally thank the members of the Republican Congress, both new and old, for standing their ground and making the American people aware of their platform for the future of America.

I would like to thank them for shutting down government during the holiday season to make their point. I think it is quite appropriate that members of Congress receive their pay while hundreds of thousands of federal employees are expected to work without pay.

I especially thank them for all of their honest, negative rhetoric regarding the environmental "extremists" at the Environmental Protection Agency and characterizing them as "Gestapo" and "wackos.

I thank them for letting the American people know that we should not value the protection of drinking water supplies, inspections for excessive pollution, grants to state and local communities for expanding wastewater treatment facilities and

drinking water filtration plants, especially when it comes at the expense of real estate developers.

I thank them for teaching us that it is wrong to try to protect the future health of the American people and the country at the expense of quarterly earnings and profit margins.

Thanks for telling me that I can blindly trust corporate America to just "do the right thing".

Wayne S. Davis

Columbia

Agricultural zoning is essential for farming

Peter Jay's Dec. 7 column, ''Don't blame the farmer,'' casts doubt on the usefulness of agricultural zoning for preserving agricultural land and suggests replacing it with a program for easement purchases. I believe a local agricultural preservation program requires both to be effective.

Agricultural zoning is the most common agricultural preservation technique practiced throughout the country. Mr. Jay wrongly implies that agricultural zoning represents an unconstitutional taking of private property without just compensation. Court rulings do not support this view.

The courts have found agricultural zoning restrictions on land development to be justified and do not represent a taking because such zoning allows an economically beneficial use of the land -- farming. Indeed, experience shows that agricultural zoning benefits the stability and economic viability of farming. The value of agriculturally zoned farmland in Baltimore County, for example, exceeds that of non-agriculturally zoned farmland in York County, Pa., a county located in a region famed for its productive farmland.

We can successfully preserve agricultural land and treat farm owners fairly in the process.

To do so requires a tool kit of techniques that includes agricultural zoning, targeted easement purchases and a variety of other measures such as "right to farm" legislation.

Wayne McGinnis

White Hall

The writer is a farmer and chairman of Chesapeake Farms for the Future.

Parents of parochial students pay taxes, too

In his letter of Dec. 23, Kenneth A. Stevens says that he agrees with Roland J. Valenti, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, that all children are deserving of basic services. Having agreed with that statement, Mr. Stevens then proceeds to explain why he believes students of Catholic schools should be denied these services.

His letter fails to address the central issue clearly presented by Dr. Valenti, that all students, including those in Catholic schools, should be supplied these amenities for which their parents pay taxes and which have nothing to do with education.

The Supreme Court has ruled it is constitutional for tax money to be used for such purposes as long as they do not promote a religion, do not involve entanglement with a religion and are secular in nature. Laws of other states complying with these condiditons have been upheld as constitutional.

Mr. Stevens' arguments are tangential to the issue and serve only to confuse and muddy rational thinking. He need not worry about subsidizing Catholic schools; indeed, quite the reverse is true. His tax bill is significantly reduced when parents send their children to private and parochial schools. At the same time, they pay taxes that further reduce Mr. Stevens' tax bill.

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