Letters To The Editor


August 16, 2005

City still needs more funds for drug treatment

I applaud The Sun for its continuous and comprehensive coverage of the collaborative work by Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems Inc., local nonprofits, foundations and advocacy organizations to reduce the burden of substance abuse in Baltimore.

And I particularly commend Alec MacGillis for his recent article, which provided the historical context for the current estimate of Baltimore's drug problem ("Proportions of drug crisis incalculable," Aug. 7).

Although studies on the true number of Baltimore citizens struggling with addiction have varying results, we do know that treatment works.

And although we have doubled public funding for drug treatment in the city since 1999, there is still not enough available.

Indeed, level funding for drug treatment during the past few years has challenged the city treatment systems to do more with less. And each day more than half of the citizens requesting publicly funding treatment must wait days, even months, for help.

I agree with the researchers quoted in the article that while it might be helpful to examine the number of persons suffering from the disease of addiction, the currently scarce dollars are better spent serving those in need than in measuring the problem.

Adam Bricker


The writer is president of Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems Inc.

No foothold for labor in world of free trade

In "Reviving organized labor" (Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 8), Peter Morici suggests that the labor movement can heal itself.

I don't think it can - at least not without a lot of outside help, and I don't know where that would come from.

The fundamentals of the global economy have changed in the past 30 years and individuals have little power to control the great forces that "free trade" has unleashed.

American workers see themselves as primarily consumers and only secondarily as citizens. Consumer power is not well organized and democracy is being downsized in every sector of society - politics, work, world trade agreements and even in unions.

Only in parts of "Old Europe" have unions stood fast against the global onslaught of cheap labor, but this has resulted in chronically high unemployment rates.

The average person no longer feels in control of his or her destiny and has surrendered to the corporation, the nation-state and the shabby forms of institutional redress still available.

Destiny is shaped by invisible forces and worldwide industrial over-capacity, which will probably soon result in deflation and depression.

With less than 8 percent of the private work force organized in America, with labor laws skewed in favor of employers and with the successful demonizing of unions by corporate propaganda, there is little hope unless labor can conjure a paradigm shift under which the greater public would conclude that workers' rights are, indeed, human rights, and can only be preserved through organized opposition to the existing power arrangements.

J. Russell Tyldesley


Birth rate overtakes effort to end hunger

It is indeed heart-rending to read of malnourished children who are dying from lack of food in Niger ("In a land of starvation, mere hunger overlooked," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 9 and "Food aid distributed in Niger falls short of need," Aug. 14).

However, part of the problem is that children are being conceived and born into an economy that cannot support them.

For instance, the first article refers to a man who "has two wives and 13 children" and the second to "a mother of seven who was nursing a baby."

Sending food is humanitarian but useless when men take more than one wife and impregnate under-nourished women with no apparent thought as to how their offspring will survive.

If family planning does not become a way of life in such areas, countless children will be born and, undoubtedly, starve to death.

Judy Chernak


Focus on education, not another hotel

If we could harness the brainpower being put toward the city-financed hotel decision ("Council finds its own voice on hotel," Aug. 15), and apply it to the city's public schools disaster, perhaps every city school student would actually get the quality education that he or she deserves.

Every line of print devoted to the hotel issue diverts attention from the biggest crime in Baltimore city: neglecting the education of our children.

Laura Maguire


Palmeiro discredits legends of his game

It is a measure of the moral bankruptcy of Major League Baseball and of society in general that suspected steroid-user Rafael Palmiero received cheers from many fans when he returned to the field in Baltimore after a brief absence ("At Camden Yards, an emotional tug-of-war," Aug. 15).

It can be argued that Mr. Palmiero, having testified to Congress under oath that he never used steroids, is a cheater and a perjurer. But this matters little to many in a society in which winning is the only goal

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