Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 16, 2007

Democrats ignore will of the people

Early Sunday morning, the Democratic leaders of Maryland sneaked across the border of common sense and fiscal responsibility and invaded the wallets of hard-working families ("Compromise near on taxes," Nov. 11).

Leaving only a trail of higher taxes and fees, our elected representatives ignored the will of the people. At no point in Maryland history has this level of pillaging ever been achieved.

It is a sad day for representative democracy and fiscal responsibility.

Sneaking around in the shadows and making backroom deals, the Democratic leaders of Maryland have once again demonstrated that this great state is operating under a one-party system in which the views of the people are irrelevant and only those who control the purse strings matter.

John W. Bailey IV

Columbia

Another O'Malley promise is broken

In response to your article "O'Malley promise on taxes erased" (Nov. 13), this is not the first promise that Gov. Martin O'Malley has not kept. Remember the 72 percent Baltimore Gas and Electric rate increase?

It is a shame that politicians cannot spend within the means given them by the taxpayers.

Stanley Mason

Joppa

Emergency food aid should be priority

A provision of the farm bill before Congress that would guarantee at least $600 million in U.S. food aid for international development sounds noble, but it could devastate the very people it intends to help.

Contrary to the view espoused by Catholic Relief Services' Sean Callahan ("Take long-term approach to fighting global hunger," Oct. 31), extensive research shows that the best use of food aid from the U.S. is to feed people in emergencies, not to address chronic hunger and poverty, for which cash is the best resource. Indeed, the preference for cash is underscored by the overwhelming use of non-emergency food aid for a practice known as monetization - selling donated U.S. food on the open market in poor countries to generate cash for programs that fight poverty. Monetization is wasteful - projects routinely get only half of each taxpayer dollar spent - and the practice often upsets the local commercial markets on which poor farmers and consumers depend.

The proposed "guarantee" would necessarily expand food aid monetization. The main beneficiaries are not the poor, but a handful of shippers and large agribusiness corporations that profit from obscure government requirements that food aid must be shipped from the U.S., primarily on U.S.-flagged vessels, rather than purchased locally. Such rules result in 60 cents of every taxpayer food aid dollar going to non-food costs.

We can do better. Safeguard food aid for its best use: emergency response. And provide direct cash to support development programs run by CRS and others that demonstrably reduce chronic poverty and hunger and minimize vulnerability to disasters.

This better approach can help save more lives, cut waste and reduce vulnerability.

Christopher B. Barrett

Ithaca, N.Y.

The writer is a professor in the department of applied economics at Cornell University.

China can't easily abandon One Child

The consequences of China's One Child policy were described in detail by Michael Fragoso in "Surplus of sons means unstable future for China" (Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 7). He wrote about how abhorrent the policy is, but gave no thought to the consequences of abandoning it.

The One Child policy was established when the leadership of China realized that the population was overwhelming the country's natural resources. Now that China is prosperous, it can import huge amounts of food and other resources, and yet there has to be a limit to the number of human beings that can live in that country.

It would have been helpful if Mr. Fragoso had explained how China could cope with an explosion of population.

Carleton W. Brown

Elkton

Don't judge colleges on standardized tests

I am writing in response to the issue of higher-education assessments covered in the front-page article "Can colleges pass the test?" (Nov. 11).

I applaud the move to make information about college demographics, graduation rates, etc., more easily accessible. However, University System of Maryland Chancellor William E. Kirwan's endorsement of standardized tests to provide information on the quality of the education students receive is not only misguided but also harmful. Standardized tests cannot capture the richness and depth of a college education. Research shows that standardized tests narrow the curriculum and undermine good teaching, especially when there are important consequences tied to the results.

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