Maryland must be competitive in war for jobsYour Feb. 1...

LETTERS

February 15, 1996

Maryland must be competitive in war for jobs

Your Feb. 1 editorial, "Third-rate or first-rate," which asked which would Maryland be, was on the mark. Can Maryland

develop a continuing state policy that is sophisticated and flexible enough to support new business development? Can Maryland initiate a new business development policy that selects and applies precise, realistic development techniques, that supports and attracts business and provides job stability and security? Can Maryland initiate a policy that will have the support of all regions of the state and will support regional opportunities and initiatives?

Those issues are on the line in Southern Maryland, where the U.S. Navy and the business community are consolidating the technology base for the development of naval aviation. There has been little publicity, but the economic impact is large -- an annual investment that will grow to $2 billion and add 5,000 high-tech jobs. The payback in tax revenue to the state, plus new jobs and career opportunities in high-technology research and development, is overwhelmingly positive.

In the new ''war between the states'' for jobs, business development has become an art form and new ground needs to be broken in Maryland if it is going to become a truly competitive state. We believe and are encouraged that Gov. Parris Glendening is trying to put together a coherent new development policy in response to the strategic regional economic development opportunities in southern Maryland. But breaking new ground is difficult, which is why the state is on trial. Whether we will strive to be ''first-rate'' or settle for ''third-rate'' is surely the policy issue of our time.

Frank Raley Jr.

Charlotte Hall

The writer is chairman of the Southern Maryland Regional Infrastructure Advisory Committee.

Experimenting with poor people

Our governor, who has a Ph.D. in political science and had a career as a professor, has turned the state into a laboratory. The question under study is,''What do you do to get re-elected?''

One of his first experiments was to cut off the effective and inexpensive Disability Assistance and Loan Program. It helped poor disabled people while their claims for federal insurance were being processed. The hypothesis under test: Poor disabled people do not vote, being too busy just surviving. The governor backed down when middle-class people, who do vote, decried this heartless experiment.

The next experiment was to offer millions of scarce state dollars to two wealthy owners of National Football League franchises to get them to come to Maryland. The hypothesis under test: Football fans do vote. Still, taxpayers also vote, so this experiment is still "cooking" in the lab.

The third experiment was to refuse to put a tax cut in the state budget, even in the face of business demands for one. The hypothesis: Lots of people who vote are smart enough to figure out that a tax cut is bad when the federal government is busy taking money away from the state, both in direct grants to the state and in employment of residents.

This last one is also still cooking, but in March a new hypothesis may come up for testing: ''We can dupe lots of people who vote into thinking a tax cut is always good.''

The Sun reported the latest experiment -- charging poor people a fee to leave state-funded welfare programs for the Social Security-based SSI program. Hypothesis: (Again) poor, disabled people do not vote. If The Sun had not reported this, it might have been quietly concluded.

I do not think the governor is simply cruel. I think he is just playing the political scientist and seeing what flies and what does not in state politics. The problem is that he was not elected to do political science experiments, but to try to make Maryland a better place to live.

Philip L. Marcus

Ellicott City

Stereotypes go far beyond rap

Your editorial of Jan. 25, "The racial divide in school discipline," claims that African-American children are targeted by and caught up in the perceived "in yo face" message of rap music.

Yes, I readily concede that children respond to this aspect of pop culture. Yes, this could lead to an increase in expulsions, suspensions and other forms of discipline. However, I must ask the question: Are staff, teachers and administrators influenced by parts of current culture as well?

Consider our written and visual media, nightly TV news, magazines and our local newspaper. African Americans are portrayed as most likely to rob, rape, steal, murder, abuse drugs, act as street-level-apothecarians, prostitutes and pimps. Since these sources of information are respected, so are the positions brought forth.

Suppose your experiences and perceptions regarding African Americans have been molded by our current media culture and not by many or any first-hand relationships. This is not too far-fetched, as many of our communities across America are rather segregated. If I were white, I might conclude that a large number of "those people" just act that way.

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