Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 01, 2005

New House leader needs to follow new course

It is my hope that now that Tom Delay has stepped down that his replacement Roy Blunt will take the Republican party in a new direction, back to smaller government, balanced budgets, and fiscal responsibility ("DeLay indicted in Texas probe," Sept. 29).

Over the past years, since the GOP took control, government spending has been out of control with soaring deficit spending and rising taxes on the middle class. America is being looted.

It is my hope that Roy Blunt will take the GOP in a different direction other than self-annihilation and earn his place in history as the guy who turned things around.

Marc Perkel, San Francisco, Calif.

Baltimoreans get thanks for their help

On behalf of the City of Gretna and the entire Metropolitan New Orleans area, I want to thank the City of Baltimore and Mayor Martin O'Malley for sending your brave city workers to assist in the Hurricane Katrina aftermath ("Relief volunteers clear red-tape hurdle," Sept. 5).

They cleared our streets for police patrols and relief workers. They assisted our volunteer firefighters in protecting our community and helped feed our residents. They assisted in the grisly task of discovering the victims in the flooded neighborhoods in nearby St. Bernard Parish. They shared in the joy of finding survivors.

Thank you for sending your brave and capable leaders: Fire Chief Bill Goodwin, the Department of Transportation's Al Foxx, the Baltimore Police Department's Major Scott Williams and your Deputy Mayor Michael Enright. They represented the best of Baltimore in our critical time of need.

I could not understand how a city, hundreds of miles away, could respond faster than the federal or state government when we needed help the most. I wish to thank Mayor O'Malley for his decision to act rather than to await the bureaucratic answers that I have experienced, which usually have been "No", or "You have to wait for approval."

You gave us the much-needed psychological boost when we needed it the most.

Ronnie C. Harris

Gretna, La.

The writer is the mayor of Gretna.

Zero tolerance war leaves casualties

Many low-level drug dealers who want to come clean will no doubt need drug treatment ("Dear Baltimore drug dealers," Sept. 24). The zero tolerance drug war poses a formidable barrier. Law enforcement and rehabilitation are mutually exclusive. Would alcoholics seek help for their illness if doing so were tantamount to confessing to criminal activity? Would putting every incorrigible alcoholic behind bars and saddling them with criminal records prove cost-effective?

The United States recently earned the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world, with drug offenses accounting for the majority of federal incarcerations.

This is big government at its worst. At an average cost of $26,134 per inmate annually, maintaining the world's largest prison system can hardly be considered fiscally conservative.

Prisons transmit violent habits rather than reduce them. Imagine if every alcoholic were thrown in jail and given a permanent criminal record. How many lives would be destroyed? How many families torn apart? How many tax dollars would be wasted turning potentially productive members of society into hardened criminals?

Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe

Arlington, Va.

The writer is a policy analyst for Common Sense for Drug Policy.

Attitude is reason for most crime

I am writing in response to Professor Jerome Karabel's article, "Affirmative action for income inequalities", Sept. 23. This ivory tower thinker doesn't know what he is talking about when he speaks of racial and class inequalities, and the need for further affirmative action. He justifies his position by stating figures. He needs to leave his classroom and see life for what it is.

He claims the problem is injustice inflicted upon poor black and poor white folks. Actually, the problems are family attitudes regarding lifestyles, and the lifestyles children learn from their parents.

My brother and I came from a poor background, but our parents taught us the value of saving money and later investing it. They also taught us the value of an education. We weren't allowed to skip school and we had better get good grades.

Our parents taught us morality and values, and they practiced what they preached. My parents died well off, and we are well off today. The road to success was bumpy, but we got there, and we are the better for it. We also paid our own way to college by getting a job.

The parents of poor families need to get their kids off the ball courts and into the classroom. How hard is it to pick up a book and read it, or to pay attention in school when the teacher is trying to teach? All poor people who want to end their poverty have an obligation to their community, as well as to themselves, to get ahead and stop this foolishness.

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