August 30, 2008

Slots can be jackpot for state's retailers

James Karmel's column "A jackpot for Maryland?" (Commentary, Aug. 24) brought attention to the often-overlooked economic benefits of slot machines.

Those benefits are the reason that the Maryland Retailers Association has supported slots legislation for five years and now strongly backs Question 2, the referendum on a constitutional amendment that would authorize 15,000 slot machines at five locations in Maryland.

Approving Question 2 would generate tens of millions in non-tax revenue for communities and create thousands of good-paying jobs with significant new disposable income.

Marylanders are now spending $350 million to $400 million annually playing slots in West Virginia and Delaware.

Maryland merchants would be better off if this money were being spent in Maryland and helping employ people in our state.

Opponents of slots argue that slots will be harmful to local business. This static, zero sum game view of the economy is simply wrong.

The economy is dynamic. New economic activity will generate new economic benefits.

Passing Question 2 will have a positive impact on the Maryland economy in general and on retail sales in particular.

Tom S. Saquella, Annapolis

The writer is president of the Maryland Retailers Association.

Religious beliefs reveal candidates' character

Although I normally agree with Kathleen Parker, her column "Candidates' church quiz un-American" (Commentary, Aug. 22) and the published responses to it were a revelation ("Faith not fair topic for electoral politics," letters, Aug. 25).

It's very American that candidates for control of a country founded on the belief in God should be questioned about their commitment to our country's founding principles.

Separation of church and state is in no way a "founding principle" of this country, and it is mentioned nowhere in our founding documents. That idea is a perversion of the constitutional proscription against a national church.

Religion is not and cannot be separated from daily life. What one believes about God profoundly affects one's direction and behavior.

Good and evil, reward and punishment, afterlife or extinction, responsibility or entitlement are the questions religion deals with.

We certainly need to know what candidates for power over our lives and future believe on these profound subjects.

Elizabeth Ward Nottrodt, Baltimore

Jury study insults citizens of Baltimore

The Abell Foundation's suggestion of a regional jury pool is an insult to citizens of Baltimore ("And justice for all?" editorial, Aug. 21).

The report is, in effect, saying that we Baltimoreans are not intelligent enough to make judicial decisions. It is saying that we Baltimoreans need socially conservative outsiders to provide fair and even justice to our fellow city citizens, both the accused and the victims.

But in fact the idea may even be a violation of the right to trial by a jury of one's peers.

Harry E. Bennett, Baltimore

Give young adults adult responsibilities

As a retired school administrator who worked as a principal for 35 years and a naval veteran with eight years of active service, I feel somewhat negligent that I never recommended some positive action in support of our young people between the ages of 18 and 21. But I think it is long past the time for all of us to treat them as responsible, contributing members of our society, particularly when it comes to voting and drinking ("Colleges: Drinking age 'not working,'" Aug. 19).

Ages 18 to 21 are a time when young people are deeply involved in developing personal characteristics such as organization and self-discipline and assuming responsibility for their actions.

Today many young adults are maturing rapidly by serving in our military, while others are in college and numerous others are participating in responsible vocational work.

Unfortunately, our society is presently forcing these young people to use devious means to consume alcohol in a very immature manner.

I have no doubt that if drinking were legal for these young people, they would soon develop a more positive and moderate attitude toward it, just as they are learning to take a mature approach to their other responsibilities.

Quinton D. Thompson, Towson

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