Letters To The Editor


January 23, 2004

Moralistic words won't keep slots out of our state

The Sun's editorial "Again say no" (Jan. 19) comments that "the easy money of legal gambling almost always ends up dominating and distorting states' political debates and cultures."

But that's pure hogwash. The last time I looked up the definition of gambling, it referred to playing any game of chance for stakes or money. So where's the difference between the various state lottery games, church bingo games, a day at the horse races and slots?

If I choose to play the slots with my money, it is, after all, my money and my risk - that's no different from playing the stock market. And perhaps the odds might be better, considering the activities of companies such as Enron.

So look out the windows from your lofty perch in downtown Baltimore, wave as the buses go by north to Delaware and west to Charles Town and get used to it: Slots are coming, in one form or another, despite the moralistic preaching of The Sun.

Chuck Marks

Perry Hall

Other states offer break on sales tax

Michael Olesker's column "This time, ambitions, philosophies collide" (Jan. 20) quotes former Maryland House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. as saying, "We're surrounded by sales taxes higher than ours."

Don't tell state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, but I do my back-to-school shopping in Delaware, which has no sales tax.

And a few seconds of Web searching revealed that while Pennsylvania and West Virginia have higher sales tax rates, Virginia's is actually a bit lower.

Ray Saunders


Existing aid program can serve our seniors

I am puzzled by Maryland Health Secretary Nelson J. Sabatini's proposal for a new Medicaid program designed to support frail, elderly people in the least restrictive (and least costly) environment ("State hopes more elderly can be cared for at home," Jan. 15).

Maryland has for some years participated in a Medicaid waiver program that offers services to eligible Baltimoreans for just this purpose. Administered in the city by the Baltimore City Commission on Aging and by every county in the state, the waiver program covers extensive personal care in the home (up to 12 hours a day), as well as day care, home modifications, incontinence supplies and other services.

For those with inadequate home support, the program covers the cost of residing in an assisted-living facility.

Unfortunately, the state decided last spring to cut off applications to this program, giving only a few days' notice to the administering agencies and thus making it impossible to get the word out to the community. The state had planned to add 1,000 slots to the program each fiscal year, but has added none.

Names are being taken for a waiting list, but with no promise as to when applications might begin to be processed again. Why does the state not reopen and fund the program we have rather than trying to start another one?

Elizabeth Hughes Schneewind


The writer is a former social worker for the Baltimore City Commission on Aging.

Leaving Md. seniors at mercy of HMOs?

I applaud Maryland Secretary of Health Nelson J. Sabatini's efforts to "de-institutionalize" nursing home residents. There certainly is no place like home ("State hopes more elderly can be cared for at home," Jan. 15). However, in his haste to reduce expenses, I would caution Mr. Sabatini to strongly consider the effect of turning our most frail and elderly citizens over to an HMO to ration their care.

Any changes to our health care system must be made as part of a plan that looks at the whole health care spectrum, not just nursing homes.

While I understand the need to balance the budget, let's not do it on the backs of seniors who have contributed so much to this great state.

Elliott Cahan


The writer is administrator of the Good Samaritan Nursing Center.

Let's fix our schools before going to Mars

Before President "Bush charts [a] new course to the moon and beyond" (Jan. 15), he had better chart a new course to fund and improve education in this country.

If the present state of our education system continues, there won't be enough of "the best and the brightest" to design, build or even man these space vehicles.

Mr. Bush's grandiose ideas are inspiring. But at present, we in the United States need to go back to the basics.

Dolly Nemec


Tip center won't stop the real terrorists

I wasn't surprised to read that officials at the new Maryland State Police security agency "tend to be vague when describing specific calls" ("Md. tip center a model for U.S. security," Jan. 12).

Such snitch-on-your-neighbor projects never seem to stop real terrorists, who don't provide convenient warnings before they strike. But they enable government officials to waste our tax dollars spying on anyone they wish.

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