Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 17, 2004

Two Americas: The CEOs win as workers lose

The business section of Tuesday's Sun gives an excellent indication of where America is headed under President Bush's administration.

Examining the headlines on page 2D we find, "Judge OKs ending of health benefits for Weirton retirees" (March 16), a ruling which will end health care coverage and other benefits for 10,000 retired steel and tin workers and their families on April 1.

We also find the headline "Northwest pilot union leaders OK pay-cut deal," a story about a $200 million a year reduction in labor costs.

Contrast those headlines to, "Lockheed CEO's pay jumps as stock falls," an article about Chief Executive Officer Vance Coffman receiving a raise of 23 percent last year (increasing his pay to $13.8 million) while Lockheed Martin Corp.'s shares fell 11 percent in 2003, "the most among major U.S. defense contractors."

And also to "Verizon chief's pay fell 9.2% to $8.6 million." Lest you feel sorry for Verizon Chief Executive Officer Ivan Seidenberg, he also was rewarded with restricted stock and options valued at a total of $10.5 million. Meanwhile, Verizon stock dropped 9.5 percent in 2003.

Finally, "Former MBNA chief got stock, pay increase." This article notes that retired Chief Executive Officer Charles Cawley received a 25 percent cash pay increase to $7.5 million, and also received stock valued at $27.3 million.

Are you better off financially than you were four years ago? It seems to depend on your position in the system. The rich are getting richer; most other people are having problems.

There really are two Americas, as Sen. John Edwards correctly pointed out.

Mark Beytin

Reisterstown

EU can now bully American business

It's one thing when our own country turns on an entrepreneur such as Bill Gates, apparently having some sort of problem with successful people. But it is entirely a horse of another color when foreigners can dictate how American businesses conduct their affairs ("EU gets set to fine Microsoft millions," March 16).

If the European Union and the countries that make up this organization don't like the way Mr. Gates conducts his business, they have the right not to purchase his products.

If the EU wants to "customize" its need for computer operating systems, and Bill Gates is truly "free," he might choose not to alter his product. Isn't the EU then also "free" not to purchase Operating Systems from Microsoft?Or to develop the software that it needs?

Mr. Gates developed the software his company sells. He has a proprietary interest in it and it should be up to him how he improves, enhances, augments or changes it.

Most sobering about all of this, is the fact that the EU can now dictate to America's business community, just as the United Nations wants to dictate to our government.

Robert Di Stefano

Abingdon

Negative ads distort Sen. Kerry's platform

President Bush's negative ads are full of misconceptions and lies, especially the ad that charges that Sen. John Kerry would raise taxes by at least $900 billion in his first 100 days as president ("Bush's ads turn negative, call Kerry wrong on issues," March 12).

In reality, Mr. Kerry has promised to lower taxes on working families. He says he would repeal Mr. Bush's tax cuts only for families earning $200,000 or more, so those families' taxes would return to pre-Bush-era tax rates. He also would close corporate tax loopholes.

Mr. Bush should stop the lies about his opponent and consider rising to the challenge of engaging in monthly debates with Mr. Kerry.

Dale Gerken Mary S. Carroll Glen Burnie

HIV test detects only antibodies

The Sun's article about false tests from Maryland General Hospital reports that "a positive HIV test indicates the presence of the virus that causes AIDS" ("City hospital's HIV testing manipulated," March 11).

Technically, the test detects antibodies to the HIV virus, not the virus itself.

It can take up to six months after a person is infected with HIV for these antibodies to be detected, which is why health officials encourage people to be tested frequently.

Karin Tobin

Baltimore

Obesity bill avoids genuine tort reform

I find Congress' efforts to limit obesity lawsuits laughable ("House votes to ban lawsuits over obesity," March 11).

Our legislators are saying that the courts can't be trusted to make judgments of common sense. Yet these same courts are used to adjudicate complex cases of corporate liability, copyright litigation, antitrust and malpractice.

Once again our elected officials have gutted and avoided true tort reform.

Dr. Jeremy P. Weiner

Owings Mills

Vital signs not proof of substance abuse

The Sun's article regarding driving while impaired on drugs contained praise for the drug-recognition expert (DRE) program ("Medicated behind the wheel," March 7). Such praise is both unwarranted and misguided.

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