Bill to increase fines for trucker violations wouldn't...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 06, 2002

Bill to increase fines for trucker violations wouldn't boost safety

The Sun's editorial promoting legislation that would give Maryland the country's strictest criminal and civil penalties for owners and operators of heavy trucks and motorcoaches who violate safety regulations runs on flat tires ("Time for lawmakers to act on truck safety," Feb. 19).

The bill would do little to prevent accidents but much to further increase Maryland's image as an anti-business state.

Proponents argue that the bill is aimed at the 1 percent of bad truck drivers. But does anyone think higher fines and criminal penalties will really make a difference to that careless 1 percent?

Backers of the bill also argue that companies should be held responsible for wrongdoing. We agree. But advocates of the bill admitted during the hearing that even with the bill, most of the blame will fall on the drivers, not the company.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Maryland's motor carrier safety record is one of the best in the nation. Compared with other states, Maryland ranks well below the national average for large truck fatal crashes per capita and per vehicle mile traveled.

We think Maryland's motor carriers deserve better than House Bill 428.

Carolyn T. Burridge

Jeff Zelmer

Annapolis

The writers are, respectively, a lobbyist for the Maryland Motorcoach Association and legislative director of the Maryland Retailers Association. The letter also was signed by representatives of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors' Association, the Maryland Highway Users Federation and the Maryland Beer Wholesalers Association.

Don't blame Israel for Mideast violence

As I listened to news reports the day following The Sun's latest Sharon-as-militant-monster tirade ("Sharon's latest strike," editorial, March 2), the editorial's last sentence appeared truly prophetic: "The likelihood of ever deadlier responses increase the longer Israeli troops remain in the camps."

But this "true" conclusion is based on fallacious reasoning: Israeli "attacks" are not the cause of Palestinian "responses," which would not cease even if Israel were to completely lay down its arms.

The Sun's view of this conflict as a war of vengeance is much too narrow. This is simply another phase in the continuous war to eliminate Israel, and Israel's response is entirely appropriate, even restrained, under such a threat.

And the editorial misled by implying the dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's performance felt by a majority of Israelis is a result of his reliance on the military. Indeed, the poll it refers to also reveals a preference for Benjamin Netanyahu over Mr. Sharon - i.e., for an even more forceful military response.

Nelson L. Hyman

Randallstown

The editorial "Sharon's latest strike" (March 2) blames Israel for prolonging the violence in the Mideast.

But Israel's incursions into the Balata and Jenin camps were not "a war of vengeance." Just like the U.S. action in Afghanistan, they were an effort to rout terrorists.

L. H. Lewis

Baltimore

Ending U.S. aid to Israel would show real backbone

Mona Charen writes that the United States has "the spine and the principles to stick up for Israel" ("President's moral clarity brings hope," Opinion

Commentary, Feb. 28). Which principles are these?

I know of no American principle that sticks up for oppression of others through military occupation, torture, wanton destruction of civilian homes and the killing of more than 200 children in 17 months.

If we had real backbone, we would tell Prime Minister Ariel Sharon we are cutting off his nation's funds for the massacres of Sabra and Shatilla and for including in his coalition a party calling for the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

Michael F. Brown

Baltimore

Sen. Daschle is right to raise concerns about war on terror

If we are truly fighting in Afghanistan to spread freedom and democracy throughout the world, Republican congressional leaders should be ashamed of their ferocious partisan attacks on Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle ("Congress seeking updates from Bush," March 4).

Mr. Daschle and other Democrats are doing what democracy demands - insisting upon an open debate before permitting the Republicans to escalate our war against a specific group of terrorists into a wide-ranging series of attacks on foreign governments hostile to U.S. interests.

Somehow the Republicans have forgotten the lesson America learned from the Vietnam War: Our government must be clear in its goals, focused on achievable ends and honest with the people or we will be unwilling to take on the massive costs and sacrifices of fighting foreign wars.

When Mr. Daschle rises to ask the administration to make its policy on fighting terrorism clear, he speaks for me.

Lon Strickler

Randallstown

The freedom to dissent still lies at nation's core

Steve Friess' column "Sad to see America's ego intact" ( Opinion

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