State school aid comes along with stringsSomeone should...

LETTERS

April 01, 1997

State school aid comes along with strings

Someone should remind the Prince George's and Montgomery County delegations that the additional school aid to Baltimore City comes with a price -- state control. As they squeal for more state money, perhaps they would also like the state to control their operations. This, in fact, might not be a bad idea. The Sun reported March 10 that the highest-paid teachers in the state are in Montgomery County, followed by Prince George's. Their clamoring now seems to me as nothing more than that age-old attempt to subsidize their over-payment by using other people's money.

M. L. Rentz

Baltimore

Air bags lethal for small women

My 5-foot, 2-inch wife and I have read with growing alarm of the lethal effect of air bags on small adults and children.

It turns out that air bags were designed to save the life of an unbelted irresponsible average- to large-sized man.

They offer little, if any, benefit to properly belted drivers and may kill them. How appropriate that air bags are tested on dummies, since those are the only ones they are designed to protect.

It is illegal to defuse the air-bag bombs in the steering wheel and dashboard, or to have a switch so that small adults, most of whom are women, can protect themselves. I resent a government willing to sacrifice my wife and millions like her who responsibly wear seat belts in order to protect irresponsible idiots.

Paul H. Wragg

Baltimore

Shift to 10 digits triggers criticism

The stupidity of forcing callers to dial 10 digits even within their own area code is just another example of the telephone company's complete contempt for customers.

The company screwed up and the customers have to pay the price for its mistakes.

Michael J. Miller

Bel Air

Come May 1, we will all have to use an area code when calling anyone.

The telephone company says that this is necessary because fax machines, cell phones and beepers are taking up too many of the usable phone numbers.

If this is the reason, then why doesn't the telephone company just make them use area codes and not the rest of us?

Why should we all suffer?

Jeffrey D. Adamson

Glen Burnie

Doctors, therapists do different jobs

It's nice to see an article on therapy in your March 18 Health section, but Judy Foreman's emphasis on finding the right therapist overlooks the differences in training among professionals.

Ms. Foreman begins with a list of problems driving one to therapy: hearing voices, thinking about suicide, being too scared to leave one's home, or being so severely depressed that the person can't get out of bed.

Then she describes different therapies and how to find a therapist, ignoring that the problems she's listed are very serious -- problems that psychiatrists and doctors are specifically trained to treat.

There is certainly a place for all kinds of psychotherapists. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend to devalue physicians, and especially psychiatrists.

Insurance and managed care companies are also making it harder for consumers to see psychiatrists for both medication and psychotherapy.

In addition, the article overemphasizes the risks of therapists' abusing patients.

It almost sounds too scary to look for someone. And the article demeans the training and expertise of psychoanalysts, comparing a discipline that is almost 100 years old and which requires at least 10 years of post-graduate training to an experimental therapy just developed.

Ms. Foreman seems to be saying that someone who hears voices or is suicidal can see any licensed therapist as long as he or she is comfortable with this person.

People who hear voices or are acutely suicidal need more than talking therapy. They need a doctor.

Dina Sokal

Owings Mills

Misconceptions about welfare reform

As secretary of the Department of Human Resources, I read with interest Brenda J. Buote's March 17 article, ''Hopkins to retain unskilled employees.''

Welfare reform is a complex and, at times, a confusing issue. Unfortunately, her article may have furthered misperceptions about it.

No current employee will lose their job because of welfare reform. Federal law strictly prohibits replacement of existing employees by welfare customers. It also required the state to have a grievance procedure for persons who believe their jobs have been eliminated to make room for a welfare customer. Pending legislation also provides for an appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

The article also contained several inaccuracies. These may cause unwarranted anxiety among low-wage workers:

The article said states have ''five years to put half of their recipients to work.'' The federal law requires us, this year, to have 25 percent of our adult customers in work activities, including private-sector jobs and a range of other experiences leading to private-sector work. This requirement escalates five percent each year so that by 2002, 50 percent of our adult customers must be in a work activity.

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