March 25, 2009

Raising alcohol tax would destroy jobs

An essential fact missing from the editorial supporting higher alcohol taxes was the destructive domino effect it would have on the state's hospitality industry, destroying jobs among those who can least afford it - waiters, waitresses, busboys and bartenders ("The enablers in Annapolis," March 19).

Simply put, alcohol taxes are hospitality taxes that negatively impact restaurants, hotels, bars, liquor stores and the thousands of women and men they employ.

As a Maryland resident who works in the industry, I have seen the devastating impact the economy has had on the restaurant and tourism industry. In the past year alone, Maryland has lost 3,900 hospitality sector jobs, and according to our economic analysis, this proposed tax would destroy 2,400 more positions.

A 300 percent tax increase on distilled spirits would further strain Maryland's hospitality businesses by putting them at a competitive disadvantage with those in neighboring states.

With our hospitality industry clearly struggling, now is not the time to further burden these businesses or their consumers.

Legislators should be working to protect these jobs, not to force thousands of hard-working people out of work through misguided tax hikes.

Lisa Hawkins, Millersville

The writer is vice president of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

Too late to save racing industry

Given the mood of the taxpayers in this country following the revelations about the AIG bonuses, I find it bizarre that state Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller is prepared to ask Maryland taxpayers to bail out the failing horse racing industry ("A 'last-ditch' effort," March 18).

I hope there is a loud outcry in opposition to Mr. Miller's intention.

If the racing business in Maryland was worth saving, the tracks would be profitable, which they clearly are not.

What makes anyone believe that Pimlico Race Course can be saved, even if owned by the state of Maryland?

John S. White, Stewartstown, Pa.

Paper should avoid using violent words

Sunday's front-page basketball-related headline, "Outgunned" (March 22), was an example of The Baltimore Sun reinforcing a culture of violence. Gun talk has no place in basketball. There are many, many other strong, nonviolent words that should have been used to headline that story.

We and our culture are shaped by language, and violent talk reinforces violent attitudes and actions.

We wring our hands and bemoan our helplessness in the face of Baltimore's challenges, but perpetuate that culture by using violent language. I challenge The Sun's writers and editors to pledge that they will work to make our city healthy by avoiding such language.

Sister Mary Jeremy Daigler, Parkville

The writer is a member of the Sisters of Mercy.

Moved by removal of stem cell ban

For the very first time in my life, I got teary-eyed as I watched a president sign an executive order - the one in which President Barack Obama ordered expanded federal funding of embryonic stem cell research ("A promise kept," editorial, March 10).

Like millions of other Americans, I waited eight long years for this order. It has always amazed me that those against this type of research would rather see eggs thrown away than used for research.

My suggestion to these critics is very simple: When a scientific breakthrough occurs with embryonic stem cell research and a cure for a certain disease is found, don't use that treatment. Maybe your moral high ground and religious ideology will cure you instead.

Barbara Blumberg, Baltimore

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