Letters To The Editor


November 23, 2006

A hand up for poor is the path to peace

In his column about microcredit, Asif Dowla notes that 15 million to 20 million people in impoverished Bangladesh have pulled themselves out of poverty because of their hard work and small loans from Muhammad Yunus' Grameen Bank ("The poor and their bank: peace through prosperity," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 14).

Worldwide, an estimated 300 million people have used microcredit to raise their families out of poverty. Yet the battle is not won. More than 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day.

We Americans can ask our government to help.

In 2004, Congress directed the U.S. Agency for International Development to use poverty measurement tools to certify that at least half of U.S. international funding for microcredit benefits the very poorest.

We must ask Congress to hold USAID accountable for implementing this rule, which it has not yet done, and ensure that U.S. government funds are serving the world's poorest.

People who work in the microcredit field often say that it is a hand up, not a handout.

As the selection of Mr. Yunus as this year's Nobel Peace Prize laureate shows, a few dollars of help to the poor can give them the ability to help themselves through work.

And this brings about peace in a way billions of dollars of weapons never can.

Annette Argall


The writer is a volunteer for RESULTS, an advocacy group that works to alleviate worldwide poverty and works with microcredit programs.

Republican failures created the fiasco

Memo to Cal Thomas: Your side lost the election. Be an adult and get over it ("Election gives terrorists cause for celebration," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 15).

And I think it's about time Mr. Thomas faced a few facts:

It was the Bush administration's decision to unnecessarily invade Iraq, a country with no ongoing program to develop weapons of mass destruction, no ties to al-Qaida, a decimated army and a tyrannical leader who was being successfully contained with sanctions.

It was the Bush administration's decision to conduct the invasion and post-invasion conflict in the manner in which it did -- with an insufficient plan for maintaining order, insufficient troop levels to maintain security and stability and an insufficient plan for reconstruction.

It was the Republican-controlled Congress that abdicated its oversight role on the conduct of the war and reconstruction spending.

It is the Republican-controlled Congress and White House that has failed to implement many of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission's recommendations for protecting the homeland.

So, while Mr. Thomas screams about "Armageddon," I can only assume he is whining about the results of the mid-term elections out of frustration over his own Republican Party's inability to do what he claims only the Republicans can do.

David M. Blades


Liberals once again push for a tax hike

Once again, the liberals in Maryland roll out their tired mantra: Raise taxes to pay for programs to help the poor ("Group pushes cigarette tax," Nov. 21).

Why not instead promote a more business-friendly climate, which would make more jobs available?

Why not have small businesses get together and form an insurance cooperative, which could cause the cost of health insurance to drop dramatically?

Liberals in Annapolis and Washington want to keep poor people poor. That is how they keep getting re-elected.

If they were genuinely concerned about the poor, they would try to end poverty instead of perpetuating it through entitlement programs.

J. Allen Frye


Care centers need better state support

I read with interest Harry Yost's column "The wrong solution" (Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 6), and I hope and pray that, as governor, Mayor Martin O'Malley will do the right thing for our most innocent citizens -- those who are truly mentally ill to the point where they need round-the-clock competent care -- by keeping facilities like the Rosewood Center open and well-funded.

Unlike Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who sold some of the Rosewood Center's property out from under the desperately ill for a pittance, maybe Mr. O'Malley will bring his faith to bear upon "the least of these" (Matthew 25:40).

The care of the truly helpless is a barometer for any society.

We live in proximity to the most powerful government in the world and also one of the saddest states of affairs.

Our institutions should be built up, well-staffed and safe.

Instead, their hands are tied and they must run on meager resources because of the waste and mismanagement and blind eyes of politicians too busy with their own healthy children and high-powered careers.

Mr. O'Malley must be like St. George -- he must slay the dragon of shame and neglect we have been battling for decades.

Amanda Erickson


The writer is the sister of a resident of the Rosewood Center.

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