Gilchrest fights for environment, Chesapeake Bay Shame...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 19, 2000

Gilchrest fights for environment, Chesapeake Bay

Shame on you for putting down Congressman Wayne Gilchrest -- who deserves respect and gratitude -- in your July 13 editorial on bay dredging ("Wayne Gilchrest's `perfect wave'").

For years Mr. Gilchrest was a lone voice among our state officials in leading the common-sense fight against open bay dumping of dredge spoil near Kent Island.

Because of his persistence, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took a second look at the ill-considered proposal. It concluded that the dumping would endanger fish. Gov. Parris Glendening was finally forced to drop the plan.

Mr. Gilchrest is a true environmentalist. He doesn't follow party lines or give in to moneyed interests that care only about the short term and their profits. He is an unselfish steward of the Chesapeake Bay, which is the lifeline of our entire state.

He is also our strongest ally in fighting to keep Maryland farms from becoming the dumping ground for America's sewage sludge. He is not intimidated or bought off by multinational corporations like Wheelabrator Inc., which has applied to bring sewage sludge from Virginia and Pennsylvania to Maryland.

He needs our support in that fight, as well, so that Maryland doesn't continue to be an easy mark for other states' waste.

Lynn McLain

Baltimore

Tobacco industry costs economy more than award

The tobacco industry is getting off cheap ("Tobacco industry to resist paying sick smokers," July 16).

If the court's damage award is unprecedented, the damage promoted and maintained by the tobacco industry, is much more so. It costs the American economy over $130 billion every year.

The judicial system is the one branch of government that Big Tobacco hasn't been able to buy. We pray that this award will stimulate additional litigation that eventually would lead to bankruptcy, possibly the only way to stop this ruthless, out-of-control industry.

Let's hope this happens before the tobacco giants arrange for Congress to give them legal immunity.

Joseph A. Adams

Baltimore

Palestine history muddles land-lease peace proposal

The July 9 article on Israel's leasing of land from the Palestinians was deeply flawed ("Land lease for peace").

It assumes that the land in dispute belongs to the Palestinian Arabs and can be leased by Israel, while acknowledging Palestinian sovereignty. But there is no history confirming ownership of the land by the Arabs, as no Palestinian political entity exercising sovereignty over the land ever existed in the history of the world.

Most recently, all of the land in dispute was intended by the international community to be part of Israel by the Balfour Declaration, a British Mandate to establish a Jewish homeland on both sides of the Jordan River. Before the founding of Israel, the United Nations offered the Arabs living on the West Bank their own state -- which they refused.

Ancient Rome coined the term "Palestine" for the land (Israel) that the Romans had conquered. Before the founding of the modern state of Israel, everyone under British Mandate rule was a "Palestinian." The term was stamped on the passports of Jews as well as Arabs.

The authors of the land-lease idea seem less like academics dealing honestly with history and more like advocates distorting history to serve other purposes.

David Kross

Columbia

Estate taxes provide triple burden on wealth

In her July 7 column ("How the rich keep getting richer") Ellen Goodman misses the point about wealth and taxes. She speaks of the government "losing" $50 billion a year by eliminating estate taxes, as if it was the government's money to begin with. It is not.

What right does the federal government have to take money away from a family for the sole reason that the oldest member of the family has died?

Accumulated wealth is constantly taxed. First when the money is earned, and then as it grows through capital gains taxes. Why should it be taxed a third time? The Constitution did not create our government as a means of redistributing wealth.

While the rich can take advantage of a multitude of tax loopholes -- which should be closed -- they should not be penalized for saving and investing wisely during their lifetimes. Death should not be a reason for the government to dig into a citizen's pocket one last time.

Inherited wealth is not income. It is money that belongs to the family.

E. Mitchell Arion

Goldsboro

Homosexual silence forfeits constitutional right

How many more ridiculous arguments will be voiced before institutionalized discrimination against homosexuals and lesbians is finally judged unjust, illegal, unconstitutional and un-American?

Neal Lavon ("Scouts may need a policy," July 7) suggests that a "civilian form of don't ask, don't tell" be adopted by gays and lesbians as a compromise to their integrity to live openly and without fear of recrimination.

Is it morally straight to expect anyone to forfeit the constitutional right to freedom of speech in exchange for the pursuit of happiness?

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