New tariffs on steel help a vital industry remain...


March 17, 2002

New tariffs on steel help a vital industry remain competitive

I strongly disagree with a number of points in The Sun's editorial on steel tariffs ("Caught `steeling,'" March 7).

First, there is strong factual evidence that the domestic steel industry has been harmed by unfair foreign trade. The International Trade Commission's determination on this point was unanimous. These time-limited tariffs are an appropriate remedy that is consistent with U.S. and international trade law.

Second, there is no "maybe" about the importance of a healthy domestic steel industry. During World War II and the Vietnam War, American steel rolled gun barrels, produced steel for grenades and supplied the shipyards that built the American fighting fleet. Most recently, Baltimore's own Bethlehem Steel produced the armor to repair the USS Cole.

As the war on terrorism continues, the industry is essential to our national defense. We can't afford to be vulnerable to the whims of foreign suppliers such as China or Russia.

Third, the American steel industry is doing its part to be more efficient. America's mills produce steel with less labor, less energy and less emissions per ton than competing foreign industry.

Here in Baltimore, the Sparrows Point plant is no relic. Visiting it, you see the largest hot mill in the Western Hemisphere, a brand new cold mill, a modern finishing mill and a world-class workforce. Major investments in efficiency and environmental controls have been made in the last decade, along with significant labor and management cooperation.

Finally, the industry is not sitting back on its heels looking for handouts. Plans for consolidation and restructuring are already in the works.

These temporary tariffs give the companies breathing room to make their restructuring plans a reality.

Barbara A. Mikulski


The writer represents Maryland in the U.S. Senate.

The editorial "Caught `steeling'" shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how the industry works.

Although a few American steel plants are "decrepit," most have been continuously updated. American steel's inability to compete with foreign steel is because of the subsidies paid to those producers by their governments. Placing tariffs on imported steel levels the playing field.

By importing subsidized steel, we reduce the number of good-paying jobs we can offer American citizens. Jobs in fast food and "big box" stores do not pay enough to support a household or educate children. By making the competition fair, American steel can continue to offer better-paying jobs.

We actually weaken our total market every time we force jobs overseas to a country that subsidizes industry in order to get into the American market.

R. E. Schmidt

Middle River

Major Healy's memo shows officer was unfit to command

One has got to admire Gregory Kane's willingness to be unpopular ("District commander was a good police officer- but a bad memo writer," March 10). But his take on Maj. Donald E. Healy's memo is not supportable on critical examination.

It seems to me that his point is analogous to that old saw about the fascists in Europe - at least they always made the trains run on time. That is to say, Mr. Healy's prior record as an officer is not really relevant. If he could not figure out what was wrong with his memo, he is not fit to be in a command position.

Neither does it strike me as particularly relevant that the individual who disclosed the memo may have had an agenda, even a race-motivated agenda. The motivation behind the disclosure would be relevant only if there were a dispute about the veracity of the report.

Here there is no such disagreement; the memo speaks for itself.

Elissa D. Levan


Patrons of private schools can buy their own textbooks

I applaud The Sun's editorial "The public trust falls prey to politics" (March 11). If people can afford to send their children to private or parochial schools, they must be prepared to pay the cost of their supplies, which include textbooks.

Instead, private schools are given the "silver spoon" by the governor and the state legislature, who, in turn, gave public schools the shaft by ignoring the Thornton Commission's recommendations.

Not only did they not use "common sense" in their consideration, they showed neither native intelligence nor compassion for the state's public schools.

Grace Y. Jones


Insurance executives profit as others struggle to pay bills

Isn't there something radically wrong with health care in this state when the CEO of CareFirst "stands to gain at least $9.1 million if CareFirst converts to a for-profit corporation" ("Executives due $33 million with CareFirst sale," March 8) and high school kids at Arundel High School collect their lunch money to pay the medical bills of the baby of two of their teachers ("Coming to the aid of Emily," March 9).

Noreen Mack

Hunt Valley

Get rid of representatives who backed campaign reform

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.