March 26, 2009

Fire Department can't afford cuts

The Baltimore Sun's article "Dixon would cut city jobs, services" (March 19) glossed over the fact that in addition to closing two fire companies, Mayor Sheila Dixon's budget cuts would also lead to daily closures of fire companies.

These "rotational closings," along with the permanent closures, are a direct result of the city's unwillingness to properly staff and fund the Fire Department. This will put the citizens of Baltimore at a greater risk.

The city cannot close a fire company and expect the response time to the incident to be the same. Increased response times allow a fire to gain in strength and produce deadly toxins.

This can increase injuries to the public and to firefighters and also cause an increase in property damage, not only to the structure originally involved in the fire but also to adjoining structures.

The men and women of the Baltimore Fire Department have been asked to do more with less for years, and these cuts are another attempt by the city administration to wring one more ounce of blood from a stone.

The Fire Department is at bare bones now.

Our firefighters deserve more from the elected officials who make these budget decisions.

Michael Campbell, Nottingham

The writer is the second vice president of the Baltimore Fire Officers Association.

Obama uses crisis for left-wing agenda

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has said. President Barack Obama appears to be using this strategy to put in place a left-wing agenda on a grand scale ("President to GOP: No more 'no'," March 18).

The country is in the midst of a recession, a housing crisis and a banking crisis, and the White House has decided to use this multifaceted crisis as an excuse to borrow and spend trillions to fund its pet projects.

Mr. Obama is proposing what could be a $1 trillion overhaul of the American health care system plus a $787 billion so-called stimulus package to address the economic crisis. The president is also pushing a cap-and-trade carbon permit system that will send energy costs soaring and huge new subsidies for green technology to fight global warming along with large subsidies to education.

These are just a few of the big-ticket items the president wants to put in place before his window of crisis closes.

His proposals could push the country into bankruptcy unless he backtracks on this huge deficit-spending agenda.

Murray Spear, Baltimore

Science can't clarify status of embryo

I'd certainly be interested in seeing the "scientific facts" the writer of the letter "Science supports humanity of fetus" (March 15) thinks "demonstrate that the embryo is a human being."

Whether or not an embryo is a human being is not a scientific question in any sense; it is a question for theologians and other moralists.

Science (as an enterprise, not necessarily individual scientists) just does not concern itself with questions of the ontological status of a developing embryo - i.e., its status as a being.

As a scientist, I applaud President Barack Obama for standing firm against this all too widely accepted perversion of public discourse.

The fundamentalist fringe in this country would like to see its distorted and erroneous views prevail.

But with strong leadership from our new president, I hope this deliberate confusion will soon disappear, and we who support science will cease to see an embryo or fetus routinely referred to as a "human being" or an "unborn child."

An embryo is just that - an embryo. And a fetus is just that - a fetus.

That's why we have those words available in our vocabularies.

John Bosley, Baltimore

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