JHU should support health with wagesWe note with concern...

LETTERS

January 02, 1998

JHU should support health with wages

We note with concern the recent report that the city of Baltimore has one of the lowest life expectancies in the nation, parallel to those to be found in many impoverished and "underdeveloped" countries in Africa and Latin America.

We feel the bitter irony that such lamentable conditions are to be found in the shadow of one of the finest hospitals and public health institutions in the world.

The Johns Hopkins University and Health System has in recent years taken strong and sometimes costly (to itself) stands against smoking as a public health hazard. But all the epidemiological studies known to us clearly show that at least half of the problem of shortened life expectancy in a city like Baltimore is due to the simple fact of poverty.

We therefore urge the university to put its influence, resources and prestige to work, just as it has done in the case of tobacco, in the fight against poverty and its ramifications for public health.

This it can begin to do in Baltimore by becoming a "living wage" institution in which it vows to pay all its workers at least the living wage of $7.70 per hour plus health benefits, while insisting that all its sub-contractors accept a similar standard.

We recognize that this is a time of financial difficulty for the Johns Hopkins system.

But it would be shameful to let that stand in the way of taking a leading role in eradicating the poverty that laps around its base ,, with such devastating effects upon life expectancy in this city.

David Harvey

Neil Hertz

Erica Schoenberger

Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, professor of geography, director of the Humanities Center and professor of geography at the Johns Hopkins University.

Poverty drives India's shipbreakers

Reporters Will Englund and Gary Cohn have done an excellent job in the series on shipbreaking, especially about conditions in India. But they are missing the point in offering a solution.

As an Indian worker put it best, ''It is better to work and die than starve and die."

India is a poor country, but a free country. The reason these people are working in these horrible conditions is not because they like it but because there are no other jobs available.

If Sen. Barbara Mikulski and other politicians think that they are doing some good by not sending old U.S. ships to Third World nations, they are totally wrong.

In effect, they are taking away the only jobs available to these unfortunate men. And probably sending them to a life which would be much worse.

The answer to their problems is more economic growth, not more regulations which cannot be enforced because of abject poverty. Once more people have jobs, nobody will be ready to work in places like Alang.

Deepak Seth

Reisterstown

Plaudits for reporting on families who adopt

I am writing to commend reporter Suzanne Loudermilk for the excellent Dec. 6 story, "Celebrating adoptions," describing the ceremony honoring families who have adopted foster children. Her article captured the extraordinary nature of these families who have opened their hearts and homes to children.

I also want to thank Ms. Loudermilk for recognizing the dedication of the staffs of the local departments of social services. These individuals had a stellar year in 1996, increasing statewide the number of finalized adoptions by 100 to 512.

Gov. Parris Glendening has made adoption a priority for the state, and as the chair of the Governor's Commission on Adoption and secretary of the Department of Human Resources, I am proud of the achievements of the social services staff. Their efforts prove that, with community support, finding a home for every child in foster care is an obtainable goal.

But this is just the beginning. There are more than 1,500 children in Maryland's care, and there remains a dire need for families to come forward, to open their hearts and homes to children who are older, who are minority males, or who may have mental and physical handicaps.

Alvin C. Collins

Baltimore

The writer is secretary of Maryland's Department of Human Resources.

Soft shoes prevent training injuries

In his Dec. 23 column, Cal Thomas writes of Army basic training as "sneaker camp" because recruits no longer run in combat boots.

The "jogging apparel" that he speaks of is actually the Army physical fitness uniform.

I'm not directly involved in training recruits, but as far as I know, the reason that soldiers now run in jogging shoes is because running on hard roads in boots made for a lot of foot and ankle injuries (including fractures), resulting in lost training time and higher cost to the taxpayer. This in itself raises issues of the "softness" of today's youth that Mr. Thomas may wish to pursue further; I certainly don't want to open that can of worms.

Mr. Thomas makes many valid points in his column, but "sneaker camp"? C'mon. Give us a little more credit than that.

Derek L. Pearsall

Aberdeen Proving Ground

Air bags in cars are safety tools

I am writing regarding a recent article about exemptions for auto air bags in the U.S. I don't agree that motorists should have certain on-off switches installed for the air bags in their cars. It's a waste of money and will only increase the price of new cars. Accidents occur in micro-seconds and no one will have the time to switch this in case of emergency.

The argument for switches is based on possible danger to

children passengers. But if a child is told to sit in the back, or if car safety seats are placed in the back, it eliminates the potential problem.

I believe that air bags are important safety features added to cars. They should not be light switches for convenience.

Wai Yin Ng

Grade 12

Long Reach High School

Pub Date: 1/02/98

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