Letters To The Editor


May 31, 2006

Taxpayers lose out in the war on drugs

Columnist Steve Chapman should be commended for exposing the myth that laws criminalizing drugs deter their use ("The phony threat of liberal drug laws," Opinion * Commentary, May 22).

The drug war is in large part a war on marijuana, which is by far the most popular illicit drug. The University of Michigan's "Monitoring the Future" study reports that lifetime use of marijuana is higher in the U.S. than in any European country, yet America is one of the few Western countries that uses its criminal justice system to punish citizens who prefer marijuana to martinis.

The short-term health effects of marijuana are inconsequential compared with the long-term effects of criminal records.

Yet the drug war's distortion of the laws of supply and demand makes an easily grown weed literally worth its weight in gold.

The only clear winners in the war on marijuana are drug cartels and shameless, tough-on-drugs politicians who have built careers on confusing drug prohibition's collateral damage with the effects of a relatively harmless plant.

The big losers are the American taxpayers who have been deluded into believing big government is the appropriate response to nontraditional vices.

Robert Sharpe


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

Prohibiting drugs limits our freedom

I applaud Steve Chapman's call for decriminalizing drug use ("The phony threat of liberal drug laws," Opinion * Commentary, May 22).

Prohibition did not work for alcohol, and it is not working for illegal drugs today.

Decriminalizing drug use would free the police to fight real crime and might also save thousands of young men who die as a result of the illicit drug trade each year.

More important, America was founded on the principle of individual rights - and adult citizens have the right to ingest whatever they choose.

Manfred Smith


Abusing the dead for partisan purpose

On Monday morning, I returned from a very moving ceremony at Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens honoring our fallen veterans, and then opened the editorial page of The Sun. Rather than seeing a nonpartisan editorial or quotes from current or past leaders extolling the virtues of our brave military, I saw two pages listing those who died in Afghanistan and Iraq ("In Memoriam," May 29).

Perhaps some did not understand The Sun's openly partisan attempt to convey its perceptions of this administration's failings in our fight against terrorism.

But just as when Ted Koppel invited scorn for listing deceased soldiers in the war two years ago on his Nightline show, I hope that thousands of other patriotic Marylanders will see The Sun's cheap, tasteless editorial for what it is - a horribly misguided attempt to use our war dead for partisan political polemics.

The Sun has reached a new low in its left-wing diatribes.

Thomas M. Neale


It's time to bring the troops home

I liked The Sun's Monday editorial page. It was fitting and moving to see those thousands of names listed on Memorial Day, identifying all the soldiers lost over the past five years ("In Memoriam," May 29).

The only thing missing was a plea to end the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq immediately, and bring our people home.

Lauren Siegel


Total toll of wars could fill section

Thank you to The Sun for the moving and appropriate Memorial Day tribute to the U.S. servicemen and women who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan ("In Memoriam," editorial, May 29).

I believe, however, that the title should have indicated that the names listed were only those of the U.S. dead.

If The Sun had included all of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last three years, including the thousands and thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians who have died, the tragic register of loss would have most likely filled not just the editorial pages but the entire first section.

Anne Brodsky


Misleading readers about mortgages

Kenneth Harney's column about reverse mortgages misinforms readers by leading them to believe that if they are considering a reverse mortgage today, they might be susceptible to the type of situation outlined in "Widow, 94, in reverse mortgage nightmare" (May 13).

While Mr. Harney did make a minimal mention that loans with the kind of equity-sharing features described in his column are no longer available, that point is largely lost in the context of his column. And Mr. Harney failed to disclose that all reverse mortgages with equity-share features have been withdrawn from the market for several years.

The dangers that Mr. Harney warns of do not exist in today's marketplace.

However, his misleading comments may unnecessarily dissuade homeowners who could benefit from using reverse mortgages from doing so.

Peter Bell


The writer is president of the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association.

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