Public needs media to assist in escape from scandal newsIn...

Letters to the Editor

November 22, 1998

Public needs media to assist in escape from scandal news

In a desperate attempt to avoid any more news of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair several months ago, I stopped watching CNN and the network news; scanned the newspaper and skipped any article with "sex," "president," "lies," "intern" or "White House" in its headline; took the talk stations off my car radio settings; and stayed away from anyone involved with the Democratic or Republican parties.

When the United States was on the verge of committing armed forces to an assault against Iraq, I was unable to resist my need to keep informed. I found myself once again devouring the national news sources. I found it almost impossible to believe that news of the Paula Jones settlement got equal billing with the latest word from the Persian Gulf.

Then I turned on CNN to find out the status of the UNSCOM inspectors in Iraq and was treated to the audio presentation of the taped conversations between Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky.

Exit polls conducted during the recent elections revealed an almost universal public desire that the political and media preoccupation with the Clinton-Lewinsky matter come to an end.

Richard C. B. Woods

Timonium

Lewinsky-Clinton matter killed health-care reform

In your editorial "Battle over health-care reform" (Nov. 14), you conclude: "National health care reform died this year in the U.S. Senate . . . squeezed out by election politics and extensive and expensive lobbying by insurance companies and businesses." That is wrong.

In March 1997, President Clinton appointed the 32-member President's Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry. It produced a consumer bill of rights. President Clinton then signed an executive order mandating that all 85 million Americans served by federal health plans be covered by the end of 1999.

Momentum gathered in the fall of 1997, when the usually conservative, Republican-oriented American Medical Association endorsed the Clinton plan and began to lobby Congress.

Everything came to a screeching halt when the Clinton-Lewinsky affair became public. It appears that Congress can focus only on one controversial issue at a time.

Thus, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, not election year politics and lobbying, killed national health care reform.

Leon Reinstein

Baltimore

Towson University's plans unwelcome in community

The editorial "Towson's growing plans" (Nov. 15) should have been titled "Towson's a growing pain."

In Rodgers Forge, we have been bombarded with late-night noises from Towson University stadium events. Increased automobile traffic has been annoying and dangerous. And before the end of the year, the university plans to increase the monthly parking fee it charges its employees from $90 to $200.

A townhouse community can ill-afford the increased competition for parking spaces when TU personnel park in our neighborhood to avoid the increased charges. There are also plans to charge for parking at TU stadium events.

More than doubling stadium capacity and increasing the number of events promises to erode our neighborhood further and diminish real estate values.

In the past, Towson University has been unresponsive to our complaints. The pains inflicted upon our community have proved TU to be a bad neighbor.

Karl Pfrommer

Baltimore

Interest rates are not low, considering inflation rate

I am sure that one of your letter writers believes today's interest rates are "laughable" ("Little incentive to save with low interest rates," Nov. 12), but I can assure him they are not laughably low.

The Federal Reserve Board would be extremely upset to think that its decisions are influenced by pressure from investment firms -- even the White House cannot influence it.

Also, rates are a little too high at the moment. Interest rates are dictated by the rate of inflation, and historically the rate on the Treasury's 30-year bond sits about 2 to 3 percentage points above inflation. With inflation at about 2 percent, we should see the "long bond" at no more than 5 percent, but the yield is about 5 1/4 percent. Interest rates, in real terms, were low in the late 1970s and early 1980s because you were able to get a certificate of deposit yielding 17 percent when inflation was running at 22 percent.

Even before taxes, you were losing money, in real terms. Historically, bonds or CDs just about keep pace with inflation, so it's better than keeping your money under the mattress, but don't expect them to make money, in real terms.

They really should not be thought of as investment vehicles but rather a place to park short-term, rainy-day money.

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