Rep. Bartlett's plan to save national parksWell, there he...

LETTERS

March 30, 1997

Rep. Bartlett's plan to save national parks

Well, there he goes again. Take time to read Rep. Roscoe Bartlett's spring '97 newsletter. He claims to have a "win-win" solution for taxpayers and the National Park Service.

He wants to help the national parks and relieve some of the taxpayer burden by selling off or leasing portions of our national parks to the former owners. The bill is the "National Park Enhancement and Revitalization Act," H.R. 104.

What next, sell or lease the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial or the Capitol Building? I can see it now: the Exxon Yellowstone Park, the U.S. Air Washington Monument, the McDonald's Fort McHenry, the AT&T Arlington National Cemetery.

Haven't we had about enough of this guy? He is an embarrassment to our state. Add this latest lunacy to his long list of accomplishments and beliefs:

He voted against any sanctions for Newt Gingrich. He claims to carry a copy of the Constitution in his pocket, yet tried to undermine it by backing a bill to regulate reading material on military bases (the bill was declared unconstitutional). He voted against family and medical leave.

Mr. Bartlett sees no problem with massive layoffs while CEOs get fatter. He doesn't believe in a minimum wage. He doesn't believe in women's reproductive rights.

He calls himself a scientist, yet he has one of the worst environmental voting records in Congress. On a scale of 100 points, he scored 6. Rep. Benjamin Cardin scored 94.

He had racist/militia backing in his last campaign. Remember when the congressman didn't seem to like so many "ethnic names" being given educational awards. He wanted "regular American" names. Do you think he meant Running Deer, or Red Eagle?

Enough of this extremism! Let's vote this guy out in '98

Russ Mullaly

Ellicott City

Business decisions driving medical ones

As I have written to these pages in the past, I have asked why many medical stories of primary clinical concern are covered in The Sun's business section.

Two stories in the March 7 and 9 editions illustrate and reinforce the agenda all so clearly to the public.

First, I refer to the Friday article reporting on health care costs increasing in 1995. "Marylanders shelled out $14.3 billion for health care in 1995," rather pointedly relates the financial realm this "industry" has traveled these past decades.

A Sunday article on restrictions insurers now pose on patients accessing new medications too expensive for managed care also ties in the financial incentives that payers of health care services focus on, earlier than the clinical advantages of such medicines.

As long as clinical practice is dictated by non-clinicians sitting in office buildings in business centers or Wall Street, one of the strongest nations on this planet will continue to watch its standard of health care erode.

Dr. Joel H. Hassman

Eldersburg

Navigating custom home construction

As an architect who works daily with contractors, I read with great interest Andrew Ratner's March 1 column concerning efforts to further legislate the home-building industry to protect owners.

I have heard the horror stories and have always been amazed that so many people are willing, with mail-order plans in hand, to dive head-first into the complicated, custom home-building process without any experience or help.

I applaud the Home Builders Association for developing a guidebook of standards and urge anyone building a home to include these in their contract.

However, there is something else consumers can do to protect themselves.

Architects, in addition to designing buildings, regularly administer the construction of buildings.

For a reasonable fee, an architect can help the owner through this very complicated process by reviewing plans and specifications for completeness, reviewing bids and contracts, reviewing the construction on a regular basis and reviewing contractors' requests for payments.

Most importantly, an architect can help the buyer understand what it is that he or she is actually buying and make sure the expectations are not greater than what they have contracted for.

While there are a few real crooks out there, most homebuilders, with a complete set of plans and specifications, can build a home to be proud of.

Stephen Gilliss

Westminster

Sizing up the tax load: 1978 vs. now

With budget balancing such an important issue today and all attention being concentrated on cuts in spending, it is interesting to look at our federal revenue collection in recent history.

Taxable dollars is not gross income nor adjusted gross income, but the income after deductions are made for age, dependents, blindness, mortgages, property taxes, etc.

In 1995, people having a taxable income of $10,000 (probably below poverty level) paid higher taxes than those making the same amount (probably above poverty level) in 1978.

This contrasts sharply with the $100,000 income levels, where the 1995 taxpayer paid roughly half the taxes of his 1978 counterpart.

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