Tardy service from federal bureaucratsJeffrey Landaw's...


April 05, 1997

Tardy service from federal bureaucrats

Jeffrey Landaw's amusing April 2 Opinion Commentary appeal for a single-payer health care system ("Mr. Kafka, call your office") presumes an agency of the federal government would do a better job of communicating and servicing customers than a private insurer competing with other private insurers.

Let me share a personal experience dealing with one such monopolistic federal agency.

Some days ago, I received in the mail two absolutely indecipherable form letters from the Internal Revenue Service. The first told me I had overpaid my income taxes by $46 and was entitled to a refund. The second, same return address, same date, told me I owed an additional $430.

I telephoned the 800 number given in both letters only to get a recording telling me that my call would be returned within three working days.

If that's a sample of federal single-payer service, I'll stick to the present system of multiple private providers.

Gerald L. Mummey


Maryland roads, signs make driving pleasant

Having spent many hours driving, I am impressed with the good condition of Maryland roads. The roads in several of our neighboring states are dismal by contrast. We Marylanders certainly get our tax money's worth in highways.

I am always proud to be a Marylander when I see the signage on our highways: "Welcome to Maryland. Please drive gently,'' and, "Leaving Maryland. We enjoyed your company, please come again." These create a cheerful friendly mood. Even the construction signs are clever and civil in tone. I especially like, "Just what you dread. Road work ahead."

I don't know who is responsible for these signs, but they promote tourism, make the driving experience a bit pleasanter, and encourage us to be more polite to our fellow drivers.

Denise Barker


Separate poker from casino games

Due to Gov. Parris Glendening's threatened veto, the situation looks bleak for continuation of Prince George's County's charitable casinos beyond May. Unfortunately the very popular and less controversial poker rooms will also be terminated.

One possible compromise solution to maintain high revenue for the county's firehouses and charities while placating the governor's opposition to casino gambling: Cut the blackjack and roulette, but allow the poker rooms to continue to operate and thrive.

Over 50 million Americans play poker, including current Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and recent presidents. For seniors, poker provides social interaction in a friendly and mind-stimulating context.

In Maryland, the variety of games, low betting limits and heavily attended low cost tournaments entertain thousands of poker enthusiasts.

Half of the states now allow regulated poker rooms. These states recognize that poker is a game of skill, not unlike bridge or chess. Furthermore, unlike casino gambling, poker is no more addictive than bridge or chess or other hobbies or pastimes.

By outlawing poker in Maryland, the state is forcing otherwise law-abiding citizens into illegal and potentially dangerous situations in order to pursue their pastime. Regulated public card rooms provide safety, consistent rules and monitoring to assure the integrity of the game.

Not unlike Prohibition, where a popular activity is outlawed, you invite in organized crime.

Based on the experience in California where the poker room industry directly and indirectly employs over 20,000 people, legalized poker rooms in Maryland can provide employment, tax revenue, needed funds for the charities and an enjoyable pastime for thousands of legal charitable Maryland poker enthusiasts.

+ Let the poker rooms remain.

Jay McCrensky


The writer is president of the Maryland Poker Players' Association, World Poker Alliance.

Circus concessions tab is a three-ring frown

A recent visit to the Ringling Brothers circus reinforced my concern about a widespread problem in the family-oriented entertainment business. Why is it that the cost of concessions -- i.e., hot dogs, popcorn, soft drinks, etc. -- is far greater than the cost of admission to the event? It is increasingly difficult for an average income family with several children to attend the circus or to go to a ballgame at Camden Yards, to a movie or to an amusement park.

Is the need to make a reasonable profit the primary force behind a $6 bag of cotton candy at the circus? Or has greed in the marketplace gotten completely out of hand?

James M. Doty


Old Saint Paul's should be on tour

Jacques Kelly's beautiful Easter tribute to Old Saint Paul's Church March 27 quite clearly underlines two important historical facts.

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