Letters To The Editor


September 11, 2007

Stop subsidizing the oyster harvest

The newly formed Maryland Oystermen Association is, in effect, asking taxpayers to continue to subsidize the oyster industry by using public funds to prepare oyster bars with oyster shell and then plant them with seed oysters ("Oystermen to organize," Sept 3).

This sort of oyster management scheme has been in place for almost a half-century, but it has not stemmed the long-term decline in the bay's oyster population or the decimation of our once economically important oyster industry.

While oystermen often compare their industry to farming, harvesting oysters is not now analogous to farming.

A farmer owns or leases his or her land, and assumes the risks of weather, disease and market conditions at harvest. The farmer is also committed to the stewardship of the land, and it is in his or her self-interest to treat it with respect.

But commercial oystermen often expect oyster bars to be planted, maintained and subsidized by the public.

While in principle all oyster harvesters have a responsibility for the sustainability of natural oyster bars, there is no individual stewardship of the natural oyster bars, which are property held in common, and poaching and illegal harvesting are severe problems.

This creates the classic "tragedy of the commons," in which everyone seeks maximal personal gain but no one has specific responsibility for maintaining the resource.

Oyster aquaculture is a viable alternative to open harvest from public oyster bars for Maryland's oyster industry - and an approach that has been successful in other states, such as Washington. Indeed, Maryland has a small but growing aquaculture industry.

Perhaps the state should offer financial assistance to current commercial oyster harvesters who want to transition to oyster aquaculture.

Kenneth B. Lewis


The writer is chairman of the Government Affairs Committee of the Coastal Conservation Association.

Video is reminder of dangerous world

For the first time in nearly three years, Osama bin Laden appeared in a videotape, just in time for the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks ("Accept Islam, bin Laden tells Americans," Sept. 8).

This tape from the most wanted terrorist in the world must serve as a reminder about the dangerous times and the dangerous world we live in.

It is clear that al-Qaida is continuing to focus on targets that would produce mass casualties and significant economic aftershocks here at home.

This videotape sends us a clear signal that we must persevere in the war against Islamic terrorists until the terrorists are defeated.

To concede and pull out of Iraq now would help turn Iraq into a major base for al-Qaida terrorists.

Al Eisner


Support the troops by ending Iraq war

Congress can show its support for the troops and for the people of Iraq by refusing to further fund this reprehensible war ("Petraeus to brief Congress on Iraq," Sept. 10).

There is enough money in the pipeline to fund the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.

Let's stop funding war and instead fund education, health care and reparations for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Missy Beattie


The writer is a member of Gold Star Families for Peace.

How can bin Laden criticize capitalism?

Osama bin Laden spoke of the "deception, shackles and attrition of the capitalist system" in his latest address ("Accept Islam, bin Laden tells Americans," Sept. 8).

But I can't help but wonder where bin Laden would be without capitalism.

The immense wealth and connections of his family gave him the opportunity to aid the mujahedeen in Afghanistan.

U.S. tax dollars and Saudi oil money helped finance the Afghan jihad against the Soviets. Bin Laden's multiple investments helped fund al-Qaida, and indeed, it took millions of dollars to fund the 9/11 attacks.

It's a bit late for bin Laden to be decrying capitalism now.

J. David Lovejoy


Republican policies don't value families

The Republican Party apparently fears that Sen. Larry E. Craig's behavior will undercut its position on moral values ("GOP hoping Craig is a faded memory by November '08," Sept. 1).

But what position on family values?

The GOP has led the charge to cut funds for the regulatory agencies that are supposed to protect us from unscrupulous corporations such as Enron and the lenders in the subprime housing scandals.

How many illnesses resulted from such scandals? How many children did not get to go to college? How many marriages were damaged or ended?

And is it a family value to oppose a decent wage for people who have families and are willing to work?

Is it a family value to deny health care to tens of millions of Americans, many of them children?

The list of ways in which the Republican Party has undermined families, and thus family values, is staggering.

The best line in the Sept. 1 article belonged to Whit Ayers, a Republican pollster, who warned Democrats not to take advantage of the Craig issue because "acting `holier than thou' is a dangerous strategy."

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