November 03, 2008

Fairness Doctrine would protect public

Re-establishing the Fairness Doctrine, or some version of it, would hardly be, as Ron Smith suggests, an imposition upon the First Amendment ("Will we let government squelch political speech?" Commentary, Oct. 29). Rush Limbaugh would remain free to spew his hate-filled tirades throughout our great land.

Mr. Smith says that requiring stations to give equal time to opposing views might undermine talk radio's commercial viability. That is far from clear, but in any case, the First Amendment is silent on the question of its commercial success.

Perhaps some people want to muzzle political talk radio, but the real desire of those supporting the Fairness Doctrine is to assure the public that opinions are not broadcast as facts.

Today, news, opinion and entertainment have been thrown together, making it very difficult for viewers to discern the truth.

A return to a situation in which there is a firewall between a broadcaster's news and entertainment would be a welcome, fair and American change.

David Schwartz, Baltimore

Wrong to deplete transportation trust

How interesting to read the editorial about transportation budget cuts, which notes that $65 million was transferred from the state's transportation trust fund to the general fund this year ("A wrong turn," Oct. 27).

But not mentioned were the millions of dollars that have been transferred out of the transportation trust over the years, all the way back to Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

Our roads and bridges would certainly be in better shape if that money had been used for its original purpose.

Jim Charvat, Abingdon

CBF shares blame for the bay's decline

While the Environmental Protection Agency deserves to be sued by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation ("Group threatens to sue government over bay," Oct. 29), there's plenty of blame to go around for the state of the bay. In fact, the CBF also deserves a notice of intent to sue.

With CBF's program budget of more than $17 million, 200,000 members and the ear of virtually every relevant politician, its 40-plus-year history represents little more than squandered opportunities.

Thoughtful people are aware that the primary source of bay pollution is animal agriculture, primarily chicken and dairy. However, CBF's absolute refusal to recommend plant-based eating habits is the single largest failure of leadership on bay issues.

Such dietary changes are not difficult, and need not result in completely vegetarian diets. But they would do far more for the bay than CBF's usual timid recommendations.

If CBF is to earn the right to claim to be "a catalyst for solutions," a huge shift in its philosophy would be required, and it would need to be held to the same standard as the target of its possible lawsuit.

Mark Rifkin, Baltimore

Good internists deserve better pay

I agree 100 percent with the letter writer who lamented that internists are paid less than other specialists ("Readers speak out on 'boutique' medicine," letters, Oct. 29).

They are the diagnosticians who have a broad knowledge of the human body and mind. For Medicare to pay less to internists than other doctors is not only unfair but totally ridiculous.

I was a medical technician for 17 years, both in hospitals and in private labs. And no one knows the doctors better than those in the lab. We knew who was good and who was not, who took the time to do a thorough job and who expected the lab to do the work for him.

And I know that there is no substitute for a good internist who is, first of all, a good diagnostician. They save many patients from unnecessary drugs, tests and even surgeries, and they certainly should be paid what they are worth.

Jo Magrogan, Catonsville

Exercising right to vote sustains a sacred trust

We cannot have honest and dedicated representation unless citizens, regardless of their party affiliation, station in life or beliefs, take a serious interest in the political process.

I hope every citizen will take his or her civic responsibility to vote tomorrow as a sacred trust that will help keep the fires of freedom and liberty burning.

John A. Micklos, Baltimore

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