Letters To The Editor


October 06, 2004

Taking the profit out of drug trade is cure for killing

Why is the Baltimore homicide rate so high ("Homicides on pace for nearly 300 by year's end," Oct. 2)? Why are so many young black men being murdered by other young black men?

The reason seems pretty obvious. Directly or indirectly, it can all be traced back to the illegal drug trade.

Street drug dealers in poor black neighborhoods are the role models. They are the ones with money in their pockets. They set the fashions. It's their values that spread through the neighborhoods: Take no stuff and get quick revenge. In anecdotes and hip-hop lyrics, their lives are glamorized.

Former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke was right. Even the best police work won't end the ghetto drug trade. The one thing left is to take the profit out of the business.

In Baltimore, if drug users could get their drugs from legal sources, the dealers would be out of business. They would no longer be heroes and role models. The homicide rate would be cut drastically. Fewer mothers would lose their boys. The boys might take school more seriously.

Creative legislation from our state capital could make it happen. Funds given to the war on drugs could be used to pay for drug treatment.

Doing nothing new will lead to the same old results.

Paul Marx


Chaos at Walbrook demands an answer

The menu at Walbrook High Uniform Services Academy reads as follows:

Fires? Yes.

Gunshots? Yes.

Grading scandal? Yes.

A Baltimore school police chief who doesn't "put any real significance" on the frightening events of Sept. 29? Yes ("On chaotic day in city school, shot sounds as students flee fire," Sept. 30).

Vouchers? No.

Viable alternatives? No.

This must make sense to someone, but not to me.

Curtis Adams


Halliburton profits from Cheney's role

As the old adage says, "To the victor belong the spoils." Vice President Dick Cheney, who headed Halliburton prior to his election four years ago, managed to maneuver his old company from an also-ran 37th position on the list of government defense contractors in 2001 to No. 7 in 2003, according to a Pentagon announcement ("Big defense contractors get no-bid Pentagon deals," Sept. 30).

The 10 largest contractors, which account for 38 percent of all defense contracts, received more than half of all the no-bid and cost-plus work from the Defense Department. And the bonanza that fell into Halliburton's lap resulted from the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In 2003, the firm received more than $4.3 billion in defense business.

"The system is not competitive enough," said a former procurement officer quoted in the article, and, as the article suggests, "Taxpayers just aren't getting their money's worth."

To which it may be added, "It pays to have friends in high places."

Albert E. Denny


More of the same won't win in Iraq

President Bush keeps saying what is going on in Iraq is "hard work" ("As Kerry hits domestic front, Bush drums security," Oct. 3).

Hard work is ditch-digging. What our young soldiers are facing in Iraq is chaos, death, destruction and the bitter hatred of those who see us not as a liberating force but as an army of occupation.

Our young men and women are being killed guarding oil resources in a country where our own intelligence estimates predict worsening violence and possibly civil war.

Yet this administration has nothing to offer them but a stubborn and reckless continuation of their failed policies.

Denise Barker


Civil War atoned for sin of slavery

Apparently the organizers of the Slavery Reconciliation Walk, and Dan Rodricks ("On a day to forgive, a few losers choose to forget," Sept. 30), have forgotten about a little thing called the Civil War, which took place from 1861 through 1865.

Many white Americans died fighting to end the institution of slavery.

I believe the terrible price our nation paid in this conflict was quite atonement enough.

Jay Davis


Pesticides report offered little data

As a lifelong resident of Maryland, a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious college of journalism and a representative of the pest management industry, I was deeply disturbed by Mike Bowler's column "Not the place for `pesticides'" (Sept. 26).

The column tells of a report an activist group recently released that alleges that most Maryland school districts have failed to comply with a 1998 law prescribing how they must manage pests and communicate with parents and staff about such activities.

But, startlingly, the report -- based on a two-year survey -- contains little documentation or attribution and fails to explain exactly why certain districts are not in compliance with the law. Moreover, the report doesn't evaluate or assess most school districts; it simply alleges that they are not in "compliance."

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