Letters To The Editor


September 14, 2005

Storm survivors need resources to remain safe

The Sun is right on point in its analysis of the issues of race and class in the wake of Hurricane Katrina ("Katrina's double victims," Sept. 9).

Those left homeless by Katrina require more than emergency medical care, temporary emergency shelter and short-term financial assistance.

They need the resources necessary to cope with current and future natural, economic, or personal hurricanes - comprehensive health insurance, permanent affordable housing, and living-wage employment.

These same resources are required to end homelessness for all Americans.

As the relief and reconstruction of the Gulf Coast proceeds, let us insist that no homeless shelters be rebuilt. Rather, let us plan to replace them with sufficient housing for all in need.

Katrina can become our inspiration for a nation that values all its residents, not in word, but in deed.

Housing, not shelter; health insurance, not indigent care clinics; a living wage, not the minimum wage, these are the principles that should form a new foundation.

Jeff Singer


The writer is president and CEO of Health Care for the Homeless Inc.

Ethic of taking leads to selfish thuggery

I had to chuckle a bit at the editorial decrying the "horrifying eruption of thuggery in New Orleans" after Hurricane Katrina ("From out of the sky," Sept. 11). The editorial "Semantics and symbolism" (Sept. 8) described the same events as "looting and gunplay by a small minority of those trapped in New Orleans."

I think the former characterization is more correct. And I would note that the citizens of Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, acted in a much more dignified and civilized manner than their counterparts in New Orleans, and for that they received less aid, less resources and less attention.

And to suggest that Americans have turned a blind eye toward concentrated poverty is just plain wrong.

In fact, it seems the vast majority of legislative effort these days is directed toward eliminating such poverty.

High-rise public housing is being imploded across the nation to reduce the concentration of the poor in certain neighborhoods. Virtually all states now offer health care for children and, of course, food assistance for the poor.

Charter schools are replacing conventional schools, and poor school districts (like Baltimore's) often receive more public funding than their suburban counterparts.

There is little else that can be done, short of forcibly removing children from their families, to improve the circumstances of our inner cities in a free market economy.

Simply put, extreme concentrations of government-dependent people, who have no stake in society and whose lives revolve around take, take, take, will do just that when given an opportunity like Hurricane Katrina offered.

To blame the larger society for that is to fail to see that equally poor folks in Mississippi, Southeast Asia and the rest of the world reacted differently when confronted with disaster, probably because they have an internal spirit that does not revolve around handouts and taking from other people.

Michael DeCicco


Bet on Iraq proves a loser for the gulf

Despite the billions of taxpayer dollars spent creating the illusion of homeland security, the first real emergency since Sept. 11 has revealed serious flaws in a centralized emergency response system ("Bush making third visit to New Orleans," Sept. 12).

I will spare the Federal Emergency Management Agency any further bashing. But suffice it to say that incompetence starts at the top.

With a little more intelligence and managerial skill in the executive branch, the people of the Gulf Coast might have been spared some of the misery that has befallen them.

The administration ignored the warnings of the Army Corps of Engineers.

It put its money on Iraq and lost New Orleans.

Chris Nufer


Will Halliburton be next to Gulf Coast?

Now that Vice President Dick Cheney has toured New Orleans ("Crews making strides in restoring order to New Orleans," Sept. 11), how long will it be before Halliburton is given a multi-, multi-billion dollar contract to do rebuilding in this gulf?

David Gosey


Attacking Wal-Mart won't provide care

I am sick and tired of politicians exploiting the struggles of working people for their own benefit.

As recounted in "O'Malley, Duncan unite to support vetoed bills" (Sept. 6), two politicians put aside their differences to support a policy that purports to be good for working-class families.

Yet, the bill they are so quick to support does nothing for millions of Marylanders struggling for access to a health system whose costs are escalating at a frantic pace.

Putting Wal-Mart front and center as the villain is merely a convenient distraction which, when all is said and done, will provide no relief to the millions in need of assistance.

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