Many local schools have adopted...

QUESTION OF THE MONTH

September 08, 2001

QUESTION OF THE MONTH

Many local schools have adopted stricter dress codes that bar short skirts and shorts, tank tops, crop tops and other revealing attire.

Do you support such restrictions? Do you regard such fashions as a distraction from learning or valid self-expression? Do bare shoulders, thighs and navels in school make it hard to concentrate on studies?

We are looking for 300 words or less; the deadline is Sept. 24. Letters become the property of The Sun, which reserves the right to edit them. By submitting a letter, the author grants The Sun an irrevocable, non-exclusive right and license to use and republish the letter, in whole or in part, in all media and to authorize others to reprint it.

Letters should include your name and address, along with a day and evening telephone number. E-mail us: letters@baltsun.com; write us: Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001; fax us: 410-332-6977.

Smaller surplus is no cause for alarm

I had to laugh long and hard at recent reports that President Bush's tax cut has caused the budget surplus to shrink, that a shrinking surplus is a cause for concern and that the tax cut was an irresponsible act.

It's true. The surplus is shrinking. Last January, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) projected the surplus as $281 billion for fiscal year 2000. That period ended July 31. OMB's just-released final figure was $158 billion, about half what was projected.

There are several reasons why the surplus declined: the economic slowdown that began during the Clinton years, which cost us $46 billion in reduced tax revenues; lower corporate profits and layoffs; $9 billion in additional defense spending by Congress; and, yes, a $70 billion tax cut.

Despite all that, the actual fiscal year-end figure is the second-largest surplus since the federal government began running surpluses.

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that when the government gives money back to the people, any surplus will shrink. But during an economic slowdown, a tax cut is a good thing.

Obviously, there are people in Washington and the media who resent tax relief of any kind. They'd rather see more government programs. But trying to spin the second-largest surplus in American history as a problem is a tactic we can easily see through.

That money belonged to us. It was more than the government needed. It has safely been returned to those from whom it was taken. And we still have a surplus.

Anthony J. Sacco, Towson

Bolster Baltimore by enlarging the city

I can't remember when the city's boundaries were last revised.

I only know that during my 70-plus years I've seen increasing moaning and groaning about what to do with our impoverished city.

City schools and public services have deteriorated. Funding for police and fire protection continues to suffer. City streets are a disgrace. And we now have adjoining "city" areas in Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties.

The time has come to annex these prime tax-providers to bolster the city.

Where should Baltimore's new boundaries be? On the west, the Patapsco River; north, several miles beyond the Beltway; east, the Chesapeake Bay; and south, somewhere below Glen Burnie.

What would happen to Baltimore County? Abolish it. Divide the northern parts equally between Carroll and Harford counties.

Then blend the existing county and city governments together, especially police and fire departments. Have an election for new city officials with the hope that the best from the former county and city would win.

It's time to do something so that our city can truly fulfill its role and the counties can be what they really are, which is mainly rural in character. And reapportioning the tax burden is only fair.

Harry Hoffman, Baltimore

Condit hype hides issues

Jules Witcover's column "Addled by Condit fever, nation loses perspective," (Opinion* Commentary, Aug. 31), was refreshing after several weeks of gleeful media hype on this subject.

Commentators have blamed the inordinate interest of the mainstream press in the Gary Condit affair on a "slow news cycle".

It's true - juicy scandals have been infrequent recently; however, there is no shortage of issues.

As Mr. Witcover noted, campaign finance reform was eclipsed by the Condit story on CNN.

Other concerns routinely ignored or given short shrift in the media include health care for 45 million Americans without health insurance; widespread poverty in the richest nation on earth; increasing corporate dominance of our government and destruction of our environment under the guise of "free trade"; growing militarization of U.S. resources, exemplified by the "Star Wars" missile defense; the undeclared war against the people of Iraq, where sanctions have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands; and the search for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

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