Merdon suggests teachers can `eat cake'The comments of...


April 04, 1999

Merdon suggests teachers can `eat cake'

The comments of freshman Howard County Council member Christopher J. Merdon in the Sept. 23 article, "Officials debate low-cost housing," were insensitive and elitist.

When responding to a comment stating that it is difficult for teachers to afford housing in Howard County, he replied, "They chose their path. They went into teaching knowing their salary was a certain amount."

These remarks imply that teachers as well as others of comparable salaries such as police officers, firefighters and nurses are a servant class and shouldn't complain if they can't afford to live in Howard County.

Mr. Merdon's comments appear as a modern-day version of Marie Antoinette's utterance, "Let them eat cake."

Mr. Merdon should take care about offending constituents who elected him with the belief he would represent everyone.

Philip J. Valle, Ellicott City

When church does the work of state

Kenneth A. Stevens ("Keep line clear on church, state," letters, The Sun in Howard, March 28) doesn't mention that there is seldom a clear line when public agencies call upon local churches and other non-public agencies to provide food, shelter and child care to its citizens in need.

He wants government to do these things but not to share our tax dollars with those same religious institutions, a position usually favored by the liberal establishment.

It has never been clear to me why the "establishment clause" is always quoted in these discussions but never the "free-exercise clause."

Mr. Stevens argues that the help that impoverished communities require should come from the "state" rather than indirectly through churches and other religious or self-help groups. He further argues that "no taxpayer should be required to help any church in financing its alleged `good deeds.' " I emphasize the word "alleged," which suggests the writer would have us believe that good deeds can only come from the paternalism and largess of the state.

The courts have applied three criteria relating to expenditures of this kind: that they be for a secular legal purpose; they do not advance or inhibit religion; they do not foster an excessive government entanglement with religion.

Applying these criteria, what is the objection? Mr. Stevens supports his objection with the concept of "fungibility" by quoting Barry Lynn of Americans United. "If you give them money for one purpose, you're freeing up an extra amount of money for these . . . religious purposes."

Is it possible that it is not extra money, but needs that may not be met otherwise? Isn't the eradication of shums, child care, assisted living for the aged and food for the homeless in the public interest?

Or are we to believe that human needs can only be met by secular public agencies? The wall that Mr. Stevens supports would divide by religion those who would otherwise be united in pursuing the commonweal.

Delroy L. Cornick Sr., Columbia

Marriott's reply looked even worse

Raymond G. Murphy's March 30 response to the March 27 article in The Sun about Marriott Corp. acting in bad faith when negotiating with Maryland public officials ("Marriott officials bargained . . . in good faith") makes a sleazy situation look worse.

The spin on Mr. Murphy's apologetic piece never mentions the cost of doing business. Instead, he offers the phrase "level the playing field," which makes it obvious that Marriott wants Maryland taxpayers to pay for projected losses over 15 years from staying in Montgomery County even while the company doubled its profits in 1998. So Marriott believes that good business practice means that it's OK to fleece the public to cover expenses. Such a wonderful corporate ethic.

Orin W. Dooley Jr., Ellicott City

Treat humans this humanely

What kind of sick society is this that we treat animals better than humans? When a cat or dog suffers old age or cancer and is in obvious pain, we "put them out of their misery" and we do it "humanely."

We don't even treat humans with the dignity and respect that we should. How can a society of "advanced thinkers" exude such ignorance and total lack of compassion?

There are circumstances when there is no getting better, when the pain is too overwhelming. In these times, people should be able to say for themselves that enough is enough.

I am not a doctor, but nine years ago I watched my only brother suffer an agonizing death. For five years, he battled leukemia. He always fought with courage. But on the night he died, he couldn't breathe anymore.

I stood beside him and watched his chest, almost his entire body, rise two feet off the bed as he gasped for air. Through the breathing apparatus, he pleaded for us to help. He knew he was dying and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.

He died a horrible death, not at all peaceful.

Yes, I wanted it to stop for me too, but for those of you who think my motives were selfish, think of my brother. To die with dignity -- shouldn't we all be afforded this right?

Andrew M. Funk, Ellicott City

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