Let people vote before mounting attack on Iraq Trudy...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 15, 2002

Let people vote before mounting attack on Iraq

Trudy Rubin's column "Before America strikes" (Opinion Commentary, Aug. 4) and Jules Witcover's "Finally, a debate on Iraq" (Opinion Commentary, Aug. 5), should jar us to ponder and discuss what may be ahead for us if we start a war with Iraq.

Too many of us are maintaining an eerie silence on the Bush administration's plans.

But to send 250,000 Americans into war, spend tens of billions of dollars on such a campaign -- one that could create chaos, slaughter thousands of people, ignite the tinderbox of the Middle East and jeopardize a fickle stock market -- raises crucial questions.

How many of us think such an action is strategic, moral or feasible?

And what if we had a place on the November ballot to express our thoughts on an issue with such far-reaching implications for us, Iraq and the entire world?

J. Calvin K. Jackson

Baltimore

Open debate on war serves U.S. interests

The letter criticizing The Sun for its support for a debate on invading Iraq is the kind of thing that concerns me and many other people ("U.S. has good reason to target Hussein," Aug. 8).

While Saddam Hussein's reported development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons is cause for us to consider our options, no one should assume that the United States should go to war simply because President Bush, or anyone else, says so.

It is pro-American for there to be an open discussion of the issue and the possible reactions and their consequences.

America should not go to war unless the Congress and the American people are in support. That support can only be achieved through an open and transparent debate.

Frederick Hill

Baltimore

Prohibiting drugs, promoting crime

What will it take for our elected officials to realize that our approach to drug addiction obviously isn't working?

I just read about a Gardenville man who carjacked the Stroup family and its three young children, holding a knife to the throat of a 10-year-old during a botched robbery ("Gardenville man pleads guilty to armed carjacking and kidnapping of family," Aug. 7).

The reason this family went through such an ordeal is because the attacker was a heroin addict trying to get money to feed his addiction.

Unfortunately, in the United States we treat the serious health problem of heroin addiction as a criminal problem. In essence, our laws make criminals out of addicts. If there was a legal way to obtain heroin, families such as the Stroups wouldn't have to experience such violence.

Laws and policies must change. As long as heroin is illegal, addicts will be criminals, and 10-year-olds will have knives held to their throats.

Daniel Poling

Baltimore

Norris' spending is difficult to explain

Once again, a Baltimore official has to explain away expenditures that look awfully hard to explain ("Norris, police spend off-the-books funds on trips, gifts, meals," Aug. 14).

Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris has spent thousands of dollars on hotels, trips, gifts and expensive meals and now justifies some of the spending as necessary for "training and recruitment," which is just about as believable as Marylanders saying they're swearing off eating crabs.

In a city that is constantly bemoaning its lack of resources and shrinking tax base, the highest officials still feel entitled to spend someone else's money -- with abandon and without oversight, and nothing constructive is ever done.

So what's new?

Wendy Estano

Baltimore

Treat CEOs like other employees

The corporate and accounting scandals underscore a culture that treats top executives like 12th-century royalty.

They answer only to themselves, and are surrounded by courtiers in a company-paid environment of limousines, $1,000 lunches, personal jets and decorated offices that rival any throne room.

Perhaps the clean-up of the scandals can change this culture permanently -- through a sort of corporate Magna Carta under which even CEOs are again regarded as what they really are -- hired help, just like every other employee.

Jim Martin

Baltimore

Taking a gamble with public safety

A recent letter writer indicated that he was confused about why so many Marylanders oppose slot-machine gambling and called concerns about crime "ridiculous" given the level of security at casinos ("Bring slots' proceeds home to Maryland," July 28). Allow me to clear up this confusion.

Proposed gaming sites such as Pimlico Race Course are in the middle of established, yet vulnerable, residential neighborhoods. An armed guard at the door of a new casino would have no impact on the safety and well-being of the surrounding residents.

And the dramatic increase in crime in areas surrounding new casinos is well-documented, as is the increase in rates of bankruptcy, gambling addiction and divorce.

What is confusing is that some Marylanders are so fixated on tax revenues that they refuse to acknowledge the true costs of legalized casino gaming in our neighborhoods.

Gambling with public safety is a sucker's bet.

Aaron Meisner

Baltimore

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