Rich and famous set sad example for illegitimacySandy...


July 08, 1996

Rich and famous set sad example for illegitimacy

Sandy Banisky's absorbing June 23 account of the startling teen pregnancy rate in a small Indiana town may be viewed as a reflection of society's changing attitude over the years regarding unwed mothers.

As pre-adoptive foster parents for 18 years, we were involved witnesses to this change from stigmatization to general acceptance. When we first entered the field, infants of adolescent mothers languished in maternity wards because of the shame attached to bringing them back into the community. Although we had opted for only one placement at a time, such was the need that on occasion two babies came to us. At other times if an infant was removed from our home in the morning, the social worker was back with another in the afternoon.

We bowed out of the picture at the end of 18 years because our home was no longer needed. In some instances adoption placements were made directly from hospitals, but primarily because teenage mothers were taking their babies home while society was looking the other way.

Ms. Banisky's article mentions the effect on our attitude of movies and television where sex is daily fare. Not noted but perhaps of greater significance is the change in our view of the moral code.

We see unwed movie stars, the rich, the famous living together and becoming parents. Should we expect anything less from those not so privileged? For many of these teenagers bringing their babies home seems to be a badge of honor.

Abner Kaplan


Mass transit is wave of the future

May I suggest to highway contractor laureate Robert Latham (June 17 "Mass transit gulps state gas tax dollars") that there is nothing inequitable about a pittance from gas tax revenues supporting mass transit. Gas taxes are the only admission price tantamount to what mass transit consumers pay in fares.

Mr. Latham's plug for more suburban highways ignores the fact that mass transit projects wouldn't exist if not for the fact that our concentrated network of roadways amply create and sustain the gridlock they were built to alleviate.

A good example is myself, who must make two to four commutes from Fells Point to central Washington monthly. Three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust traffic jams in between are unacceptable. Conversely, the MARC commuter rail makes a relaxed, safe, reliable journey and is well worth the price. There is no question that commuter rail and subways are the most efficient logistical way to move commuters. I've bet my livelihood on the MARC, which has gotten me there punctually 100 percent of the time since 1987.

The truth is that mass transit is the wave of the future. Big league cities such as New York, Chicago and anywhere in Europe have mass transit that obviated universal car ownership. Rural states such as Virginia and West Virginia entertain delusions that massive pork barrel highway projects will create economic growth out of an inexhaustible supply of our tax dollars. As for Latham, his ilk will have their hands full simply from fixing the comminuted roadways that weren't built right the first time.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr.


Can't trust D'Amato to do a fair probe

Your June 20 editorial, ''Whitewater probe -- a sorry spectacle,'' could not have been better expressed. Politics in this country has degenerated into a dog-eat-dog spectacle that bears little resemblance to the true responsibilities and legitimate business of Congress.

When an investigative subcommittee is chaired by a person such as Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato, R-N.Y., it immediately loses its credibility. This man has a record of fraud, deceit and meanness in his personal dealings that is almost unmatched. He has narrowly escaped indictment in scandals involving his brother and managed to turn over a $38,000 profit in one day because of the manipulations of a broker who was under investigation for fraudulent dealings.

It bothers me that more than $3 million of taxpayers' money has already been spent on this circus that goes back 10 years. Whose memory is good enough to remember anything that far back with accuracy? To date, there has been no credible evidence that proves anything. It's just election-year politics of the dirtiest kind. It all depends on whose ox is being gored.

Ernest M. Stolberg


Hollinger praises her treatment bill

Ken Carter's June 27 letter, "Will cost more to take SSI away from addicts," was right on target. I have railed for years against our state's non-policy for treating drug addicts -- particularly as it relates to the crime problem.

Happily, the legislature passed my bill this past session, Senate Bill 272. It will fund treatment for inmates about to be released into the community and then follow up with 30 days of after care. Gov. Parris Glendening agreed to fund the program beginning in the fiscal year of 1998.

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