Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 25, 2006

Public pension mess burdens taxpayers

Many thanks for The Sun's welcome, if long-overdue, editorial "Rethinking public pensions" (Oct. 22).

As it correctly points out, the world is moving away from pensions of all kinds.

The private sector long ago recognized the financial burden traditional pensions place on the financial health of companies, and has moved rapidly from defined-benefit to defined-contribution plans for employees while, in many instances, reducing pension and health benefits to retirees.

Many current retirees who thought they could count on promises made in the past are discovering how fleeting some of those promises were.

The public sector seems to live in another world.

Not only does it often rely on underfunded traditional pension plans, which will require ever-increasing tax burdens, but public employees' pension plans almost universally include annual cost-of-living increases for retirees, a benefit rarely afforded to workers in the private sector.

Two issues need to be addressed here. First, government at all levels must realistically address the level of pension benefits and the cost and means of funding them. Second, and far more important, the public needs to be made fully aware of this issue so people can demand reform.

The Sun's editorial is a small step in the right direction.

However, I take issue with The Sun's belief that we cannot abandon the promises made to public retirees.

Why are those promises more sacred than the ones made by private employers?

Why should private citizens pay taxes to support cost-of-living raises for public retirees when those citizens receive no such benefit?

An informed public will demand change. And The Sun can make a major contribution by publicizing the public pension mess and the inequities and burdens it will produce.

John C. Neu

Annapolis

An unfair attack on Ehrlich backer

I was appalled by Lynn Anderson's article "Star of Ehrlich anti-crime ad has political, criminal past" (Oct. 19).

While Larry Gaines may have had a drug problem in the past, he certainly seems to have overcome this problem to become a productive, taxpaying citizen. He has used his past personal problems to try to prevent others from going down the wrong path through his parent advocacy.

Isn't this the kind of thing that Dan Rodricks has been preaching in his columns in The Sun for months, urging drug addicts to give up their habits and return to society as productive, taxpaying citizens?

Further, to intimate that Mr. Gaines is somehow responsible for his clients who skipped bail is ludicrous. There isn't a bail bondsman in this city who hasn't had a "skip."

If the state could be guaranteed that every defendant would appear at trial, there would be no need for bail bondsmen.

This article isn't news - it's political campaign propaganda, pure and simple.

S. Cohen

Reisterstown

Former felon does governor no credit

The Sun's editorial "Voting rights and wrongs" (Feb. 27) noted that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. "has made it quite clear that he objects to any effort that would allow all ex-felons to vote."

How ironic that Mr. Ehrlich now proudly accepts the endorsement of a convicted felon, Larry Gaines, and even features Mr. Gaines in his TV ads ("Star of Ehrlich anti-crime ad has political, criminal past," Oct. 19).

Does running TV ads featuring Mr. Gaines mean that the governor has changed his view on votes for ex-convicts?

Or does this simply prove that in politics, desperation leads to contradiction?

In either case, Mr. Ehrlich should realize that Mr. Gaines' praise is more an indictment than an endorsement.

Mac Nachlas

Baltimore

The writer is a volunteer for Mayor Martin O'Malley's gubernatorial campaign.

Better uses for funds solicited for the race

As an African-American in Baltimore, I found the article "Warm receptions for the candidates" (Oct. 23) such an embarrassment.

While the inner city is dying, the Rev. Frank M. Reid III is asking members of his church to write checks for $100 or more to Friends of Ehrlich.

If he were able to get 10 people to give, that would be $1,000. I'm sure that $1,000 could be used in ways that would better serve the Druid Heights neighborhood where his church is located.

I hope someone in that church will tell Pastor Reid that he was wrong.

Travis Moseley

Baltimore

In the end, we get leaders we deserve

We voters get the kind of government we deserve.

If we care; if we find out who is best qualified, not who is more charismatic; if we ask the hard questions and don't stop asking; if we vote for what the candidate will do, rather than against the one who is painted as worse, we will get the best government possible.

If we respond to negative messages without verifying their content and their relevance, we will get the government we deserve.

We will also get more of the same type of information given us - as smearing the opposition becomes successful and rewarded behavior.

But is pointing out one's opponent's flaws true leadership? Is it a sign of a good leader?

If it works, shame on us voters.

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