Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

February 02, 2004

Fallacies vitiate plan to use slots to fund schools

I am deeply distressed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s proposal seeking to allow thousands of slot machines to be installed in Maryland ("Mixed reactions to Ehrlich's I-95 slots plan," Jan. 28).

The governor and his allies would have us believe slots are a necessary means to an end - the only way the state can generate adequate revenues to fund public education and other needs. But this view contains dire fallacies.

First, gambling generates serious social problems that cost money to address, thus offsetting some of the potential revenue gains the governor seeks.

Second, the congested Interstate 95 corridor, along which new gambling palaces would be built, cannot readily accommodate more traffic; our quality of life is at stake here.

And third, relying on gambling to "purchase" the Thornton education plan is itself a huge gamble for many reasons, including the fact that there's no clear evidence that implementing Thornton would even bring about marked improvements in public education.

In sum, gambling is a bad bet, all around. We must find more socially constructive solutions to our fiscal problems.

Amy Bernstein

Baltimore

Gambling revenue beats new taxes, fees

The Sun's editorial "Hooked on slots" (Jan. 28) ended by saying, "The state should balance its budget without getting hooked on slots." But we currently have "sin" taxes on alcohol and cigarettes that contribute to balancing the state budget, not to mention the revenue from the lotteries. So why not allow slots and even Las Vegas-style gambling to help balance the budget?

I would rather see the extra revenue come from gambling than from increased taxes on gasoline or car purchases or higher auto registration fees.

And I favor letting the citizens decide the gambling issue through a statewide referendum.

Ron Wirsing

Havre de Grace

Speaker should stop obstructing Ehrlich

In the article "Busch rebuffs latest Ehrlich slots proposal" (Jan. 28), House Speaker Michael E. Busch states, "I think I'm trying to do the responsible thing. As big as those guys are, I don't think they are going to intimidate me."

The speaker seems to be rather paranoid about intimidation. But if gambling interests have threatened him, he should provide proof of his accusations and let the matter be investigated. Otherwise, he should stop posing as David against an invisible Goliath.

The speaker's time would be better spent studying the dire state of Maryland's finances. He should be intimately familiar with the disaster since he was present in the legislature for its creation.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., on the other hand, is an outsider who is attempting to fix a problem he did not create. He was elected precisely for that reason.

Perhaps the speaker could stop obstructing the governor long enough to consider that simple fact.

Marilee Mongello

Annapolis

The Scottish people aren't `subservient'

As a Scotsman who is proud to call Baltimore home, I have to congratulate The Sun for its recent articles about Scotland. They have been well-written and informative. However, I found Todd Richissin's comment that "the Scottish have long been the underdog to England, subservient to them in almost every way" gratuitously offensive ("Calling on the Scottish lilt," Jan. 28).

I wonder on what basis he comes to this rather sweeping conclusion.

I don't know any person in or from Scotland who would consider himself or herself subservient to anybody, in particular the English.

Kenneth W. Lockie

Baltimore

U.S. inaction extends conflict, terrorism

Bravo for Thomas L. Friedman and his column "Stop the insanity of inaction on Israel" (Opinion Commentary, Jan 23). Finally, someone of prominence is clearly and loudly urging the United States to use its influence to bring the madness in Israel to an end.

As Mr. Friedman points out, U.S. inaction only perpetuates the conflict - and the bitterness it spreads throughout the Arab world.

A successful U.S. peacemaking effort not only would end this 54-year-old conflict and bring Israel the benefits Mr. Friedman discusses, it also would remove the single biggest irritant within the Arab world and the terrorist threat it has spawned.

Frank Smor

Baltimore

Malpractice suits don't improve care

The writer of a letter arguing against reform of the medical malpractice system writes, "The vast majority of plaintiffs have medical outcomes none of us would want for ourselves or our loved ones" ("Limiting damages punishes the victims," Jan. 25).

No doubt this is true. However, the overwhelming majority of bad medical outcomes are not the result of medical malpractice, despite what some trial lawyers would like us to believe.

While medical errors remain too common and a small fraction of doctors practice substandard medicine, most adverse medical outcomes are the result of severe and advanced diseases that are beyond the capacity of modern medicine to treat successfully.

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