Reduce your tax bill, lower energy useThree cheers for...

LETTERS

April 16, 1997

Reduce your tax bill, lower energy use

Three cheers for Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke for proposing an energy tax to fill the city's budget shortfall.

It's one tax -- at least in terms of actual dollars spent -- most might never have to pay.

Changing driving habits, turning down the thermostat a notch, or buying energy-efficient equipment, appliances and vehicles at trade-in time, would more than make up the amount paid into the energy tax. Being more energy efficient -- to avoid paying the tax -- would help residents, businesses, the environment and the country as a whole.

Our booming economy has created record-breaking trade deficits.

Some portion of that is energy. Money spent overseas is money not spent at home. Money spent at home circulates throughout the economy. Some of it is siphoned into state, local and federal treasuries. A reduction in the trade deficit would mean a reduction in the federal budget deficit.

Nationally we depend on imported oil, much of it from the most politically unstable areas on the planet.

We have a military force in place, at a high cost to taxpayers, to keep the oil flowing. Reduce the dependence, reduce the money spent on military presence.

Cleaner air and water, additional products of reduced energy consumption, would reduce the health care and environmental costs we all bear.

Cleaner air in Baltimore might convince people to stay in the city and also might attract new people to it.

Although I am not a resident, the city line is only a few blocks away. What happens to the city affects my life as well.

Should Baltimore County declare an energy tax, I'd be more than happy to pay.

ruce Mulliken

Catonsville

The writer is publisher of ENERGIES, an online newsletter of energy technology and policy issues.

Remembering Brad Jacobs

The passing of Brad Jacobs means much more to me than meets the eye.

As a member of the "early childhood" mid-seventies, I can well sympathize with all that he stood for and I fully understand where he came from and what he represented. He was a dTC gentleman and a gentle man. He was part of a generation of Baltimoreans that is fast disappearing and will never be replaced. True he lived in Ruxton, but his character and behavior remind me of the Baltimore that I knew and loved so much.

Certainly one of Brad Jacobs' many contributions to the intellectual substance of Baltimore is the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs. His memory will live on in this great organization he helped establish.

I am proud to have known him and to be a part of the heritage he left behind.

Hugh M. Roper

Columbia I am now convinced without a shadow of a doubt that Sun columnist Greg Kane is the most bitter and angry man in America. I cannot believe he can take a positive thing like the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson entering baseball's major leagues and turn it into another soap box item about everything bad that's happened to the black man in America (April 13, "Why celebrate an egregious insult?").

What's next? Is Mr. Kane going to bash Tiger Woods for selling out to be the best in golf, the ultimate ''white man's game"? Puh-leeze.

And if poor Mr. Kane doesn't know the answer to his own question (''Why did Jackie Robinson have to endure what he endured?''), then he really is ignorant. The answer is: The same reason that other great men, black and white, from Jesus Christ to Frederick Douglass to Jackie Robinson, had to endure it -- for freedom and progress.

Mr. Kane should think about it. I thank God there are people like these who had the strength to put up with all that is thrown at them. They make me proud of the human race. Too bad Mr. Kane can't share this pride.

Kelly Sheridan

Pasadena

Drug-free workplace legislation died

AS THE SUN editorialized on April 7 ("Frantic last day in State House"), legislation to promote drug-free workplaces in Maryland deserved to be passed by the General Assembly. Unfortunately, as the 1997 session adjourned sine die, so did this bill.

This bill would have relieved employers from paying workers' compensation benefits, except for medical expenses, to employees injured on the job when the primary cause of the injury was intoxication or the abuse of controlled dangerous substances. Businesses strongly supported the bill. Labor unions strongly opposed it.

Current law, which dates back to 1914, disqualifies employees from workers' compensation benefits only if it can be proved that the work-related accident was caused solely by the use of drugs or alcohol.

Maryland, the District of Columbia and New York are the only states that apply the ''sole cause'' standard. Maryland's law is an embarrassment to a state that has been very progressive in how we treat substance abuse on our highways.

In testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, a Maryland-based concrete contractor described how a probationary employee ran a concrete mixer off the road, causing $100,000 in property damage.

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