Greener development better approach for western MarylandI...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 30, 1999

Greener development better approach for western Maryland

I wholeheartedly support House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr's exhortation to create 2,000 new jobs for depressed Western Maryland ("Taylor exhorts 2 western counties to create 2,000 jobs next year," May 21).

However, I take exception to his recommendation that we do this largely by exploiting natural resources.

Increasing logging and coal mining on state lands and burning more of Maryland's high-sulfur coal would leave the land impoverished, the air dirtier and the region's natural diversity greatly diminished.

Hunters, fishers, hikers, birders, photographers and others seek remote, undisturbed areas for their pursuits.

Economic studies show that public lands can generate more revenue from recreation and eco-tourism than from timber production.

Western Marylanders need to scrap outdated ideas about economic development based on resource extraction, an approach which richly rewards only a few.

Instead, we should promote new opportunities that attract visitors to the treasure-trove of biological diversity and breathtaking beauty of Garrett County's mountains and Allegany County's ridges and valleys.

This approach would benefit the many western Marylanders who own small businesses such as restaurants and bed and breakfasts that support visitors.

With proper promotion, the future of such business would be very promising.

Ajax Eastman Baltimore

The writer is co-chairman of the Maryland Wildlands Committee.

`Couch tax' prompts anger

I never knew people were "dodging" sales tax when they bought furniture out of state ("Md. targeting consumers who dodge 5% sales tax," May 24). My impression was that they were just looking for a good deal, which I did not know was against the law.

Why should it be objectionable to the government of Maryland if some hard-working, taxpaying citizens want to borrow a friend's pick-up truck and take a trip to the exotic furniture-growing land of North Carolina to save a few dollars?

Is our comptroller, William Donald Schaefer, afraid that the money Mr. and Mrs. Marylander saves would be lost to the state forever?

It's more probable that this money would be spent on items that are more affordable here in Maryland, like scratch-off lottery or Keno tickets.

I can see the state wanting to get its tax revenues from the fellows who bring 53-foot trailers full of reclining chairs and sell them by the side of the road.

But it seems to me that they would be kind of easy to spot. An abandoned gas station lot full of new, plastic-wrapped furniture is difficult to camouflage.

If the state wants to bring former state Police Superintendent Larry Tolliver out of retirement to do some good, let him try to stop the people coming over the state line with their 1 pound, plastic-wrapped packages of white powders.

That's something most people would approve of, but I don't suppose it holds any tax advantage for the state.

Joseph F. Vavra Baltimore

I am mad enough to spit. While the majority of us are trying to make ends meet, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer is trying to bleed us for a lousy sales tax for out-of-state furniture.

How much will it cost to fund the troopers, delay the drivers and find the couch criminals?

I'll make a deal: I'll willingly pay the tax when my family replaces its 15-year-old furniture when Mr. Schaefer gives up his limo.

Stephan B. Brooks Reisterstown

It's the `war on drugs' that's the real drug problem

In his recent letter, Michael Gimbel, director of the Baltimore County Bureau of Substance Abuse, seemed to blame society's ills on drug use ("Time to take a stand against drug abuse," May 23).

But it is the laws governing these substances, not the substances themselves, that are the source of the problem.

By forbidding something, you give it an outlaw cachet.

And outlawing a substance removes quality controls as it puts distribution in the hands of the black market.

One only need look at Prohibition to see the result: Dramatically increased rates of addiction, adulterated or contaminated products and a windfall for organized crime.

The question Mr. Gimbel should be asking is not how long will society tolerate drug abuse, but how long will we continue to encourage irresponsible drug use through failed policies like the "war on drugs."

William Smith Baltimore

Pay tobacco lawyers less, return money to taxpayers

The Sun's article "Suing Peter to pay Marc" (May 23) said that Peter G. Angelos could get $1 billion from the tobacco settlement.

Laywer Marc Edell is suing Mr. Angelos for a bigger piece of the settlement, although he has been paid $798,000 for about 1,400 hours of work -- which amounts to about $570 per hour.

Through his attorney, Mr. Angelos noted that "Edell has been paid handsomely by the hour."

Since Mr. Angelos feels that this method of payment is equitable, perhaps he should be paid in the same "handsome" manner.

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