Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 10, 2006

AARP right to fight to protect Medicare

I usually enjoy Jay Hancock's columns but his commentary on why he is was declining membership in AARP was a big disappointment ("Why I won't be joining AARP ranks, thank you," Aug. 6).

Mr. Hancock's suggestion that AARP's efforts to safeguard health care for senior citizens would bankrupt the country indicates that he has forgotten the fundamental principle of budgeting - spend money first on your highest-priority needs.

His argument is equivalent to parents telling their children they cannot afford food or clothing while they are out buying booze, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

This country spends hundreds of billions of dollars trying to fix the problems of other countries, where the people sometimes try to kill those we send to help them.

It is time the politicians learn that our citizens could use some aid.

After reading this article, I recommend that Mr. Hancock should join the frequent gambler club at Harrah's.

He may need a windfall when he retires in 15 years to cover his medical costs.

Leroy B. Chamberlain

Ellicott City

Trash is much more than a visual blight

I was very disappointed to read about the failed trash collector at Gwynns Run, which is probably the most polluted stream in Baltimore ("Trash slipping past the nets," July 29).

The city should force the warranty company to fix the system more quickly. But even if this project worked the way it is designed to, it is really just a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.

Trash is an aesthetic problem, but also a social, financial and environmental problem. It is also a visible indicator of the appalling condition of our urban streams and streets.

And the storm water that washes trash from the streets contains heavy metals and oil from our cars, road salt and nutrients from overfertilizing our lawns and fields. These all have detrimental effects on our streams and the bay.

Trash affects the quality of life in our neighborhoods. It affects property values and people's respect for their communities and themselves. And the money the city spends on trash systems and street sweeping could be better spent on other programs.

Trash is so pervasive and persistent a problem that focusing on the symptoms only goes so far. To have a real effect, the underlying causes must be identified and resolved.

This will take a comprehensive approach.

Components of such an approach include studies to identify the sources of pollution, better enforcement of littering and dumping laws and public awareness campaigns.

Public awareness campaigns like the "Crying Indian" advertisements from the 1970s must become as pervasive as fast-food ads.

And we need to turn litterers into social pariahs.

Scott Pelton

Baltimore

The writer is the former president of the Gwynns Falls Watershed Association.

Cuts imperil caliber of historical society

While the new director of the Maryland Historical Society, W. Eric Emerson, has purged the organization of its intellectual core and institutional memory, he and the other chiefs at the society continue to enjoy six-figure salaries ("Facing down a financial crisis," Aug. 2).

Firing librarians and department heads at the historical society will greatly harm the institution in the long run.

Over the years many scholars, teachers, researchers genealogists, and lovers of Marylandia and American history have come to depend on the resources of the society.

The society's Maryland Historical Magazine and its press have published impressive and widely heralded scholarship over the years.

I fear that this will no longer be the case.

John R. Wennersten

Washington

The writer is a member of the Maryland Historical Society.

Biking on roadways a dangerous gamble

The Sun recently published a letter titled "You bike, you stay fit, you save money" (Aug. 3). I would add - until you get run over by a car. Then your funeral expenses will far outweigh any savings and health benefits from cycling.

I have been bicycling in Maryland for more than 60 years, on all kinds of public roads. But I no longer consider bicycling on roads used by cars an option.

The solution to the traffic congestion in Maryland is the kind of railroad-streetcar system we had in the early 20th century and $10-per-gallon gas to reduce automobile use.

David Heston

Glen Arm

Too late to question Israel's legitimacy

What Israel is doing in Lebanon at this time is almost as foolish and futile as our invasion of Iraq. Unfortunately, it also gives people who like to begin history whenever it fits their argument a chance to discuss whether a national homeland for Jews in Israel is a mistake and to question the military relationship between Israel and the United States ("Can war resolve Mideast's conflicts?" letters, Aug. 5).

That discussion is just as ill-advised as Israel's current war in Lebanon.

In 1948, there were about 1 million Arabs and one-half million Jews living in Palestine. The United Nations divided the area between Jews and Arabs to provide a homeland for each group.

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