Letters To The Editor


November 24, 2003

All Americans reap benefits of free trade

The ignorance of the anti-trade and anti-globalization protesters interviewed in The Sun's article "Hundreds protest as free trade talks start" (Nov. 17) is astounding. In fact, free trade disproportionately benefits working-class Americans, and it is special interest groups that hate free trade.

Although the average tariff the United States levies on imported goods is 1.7 percent (which is among the lowest levels in the world), the tariffs we impose on consumer, agricultural and labor-intensive products are 10 to 20 times higher than the average tariffs.

Of course, food and clothing are essentials that make up a higher percentage of low-income workers' spending than of the budgets of wealthier people. Thus protectionism particularly harms people with low incomes. And according to the Progressive Policy Institute, high tariffs on items such as shoes and clothing cost a single parent with a $25,000 income $400 per year.

But working-class Americans are not the only beneficiaries of free trade.

If tariffs and subsidies were eliminated, taxpayers of all income levels no longer would be forced to shell out billions annually for subsidies, and successful U.S. corporations and small businesses would have access to more foreign markets whose economies would be strengthened by trade.

Worldwide, perhaps the biggest beneficiaries would be the very people the "anti-globalizers" claim to speak for -- the workers in developing nations. Of course the leaders of these nations defy the anti-globalizers in calling for "trade, not aid" as the best means to lift their people out of poverty.

Whether they know it or not, free trade is good for Americans of all walks of life.

Paul J. Gessing

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is director of government affairs for the National Taxpayers Union.

Key Bridge searches are an ominous sign

It was with great foreboding that I read the article concerning the Maryland Transportation Authority Police stopping cars on the Key Bridge ("Police check cars, trucks traveling on Key Bridge," Nov. 18).

If the article is accurate, under the guise of testing a checkpoint system designed to find bombs and hazardous chemicals, police for two hours on the evening of Nov. 17 stopped one-third of the vehicles crossing the bridge and subjected them to searches. Two people were arrested -- one for driving under the influence and one for carrying counterfeit compact discs and DVDs.

How a test of a checkpoint system designed to thwart bombers and illegal chemical carriers netted one drunk and one compact disc smuggler is not hard to fathom in today's climate of fear and paranoia centered on the threat of terrorism. But it should give every clear-thinking citizen of our state real pause.

We are hard on the road to a police state when activities like this go on unquestioned.

Joe LaMastra


Teaching the world to get nuclear arms

The Sun's editorial "An end to secrecy" (Nov. 16) says, "It's hard not to be cynical about Iran's recent cooperation with the [International Atomic Energy Agency]." What's really hard not to be cynical about is the U.S. government's intentions.

Iraq was invaded, purportedly because it had weapons of mass destruction, which to this day have not been found. North Korea, which says that it actually has nuclear weapons, was not invaded.

What lesson are nations to glean from this if not that those who have nuclear weapons can successfully deter the world's lone superpower?

Is it any wonder that Iran might be developing its only sure defense against U.S. imperialism?

Michael Melick


Kennedy did more in death than life

In "JFK plus 40: We lost so much that day" (Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 19), Cal Thomas laments what might have been had President John F. Kennedy not been assassinated.

Actually, in some ways Mr. Kennedy achieved more in death than in life. He had a very extensive social legislation agenda that was stalled in Congress at the time of his death.

The coming together of the country following Mr. Kennedy's assassination, combined with President Lyndon Johnson's legislative acumen, produced sweeping social legislation in the years immediately following Mr. Kennedy's assassination: the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act and Medicare and Medicaid.

It is unclear whether Mr. Kennedy would have been able to get such sweeping legislation passed had he lived.

Leon Reinstein


New boarding school is sign of faith in city

As an organization that markets city living, we routinely tour areas of the city to keep up to date on the latest developments. Just last month we stumbled upon the Hebrew Orphan Asylum in West Baltimore and were completely intrigued by the massive structure, but no one seemed to know much about it.

The proposal by Coppin State College President Stanley F. Battle to develop a public boarding school on the site could be a positive influence for the area ("A new vision for urban education," Nov. 17).

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