Preserve Bryans Road
In life there are windows of opportunity. If not seized, they close, and the opportunity is lost forever to regret. It is sad that I am writing that Bryans Road is losing a window of opportunity. If closed, the schools will grow more crowded, the crime rate will increase, the wells of residents will be affected and the Chesapeake Bay will take a huge step back in its healing process. If the Charles County commissioners adopt the planning board's [town center development] proposal, Bryans Road's window will be closed, and we will all feel the consequences.
It is difficult to grasp that Bryans Road residents are content to allow an area larger than the District to be developed in Charles County. The highest densities in the county would be in Bryans Road. The commissioners may soon bring plans to a close, and they want to represent residents' wishes as they guide our county into the future. But how will they know our desires if we do not tell them?
Among the regrets we will live with if we take no action:
* More-congested schools will mean scheduling more lunch periods (Are you hungry at 10:30 a.m., or would you like to wait until 2 p.m. to eat?). It will mean less individualized attention in the physical education program and fewer opportunities in the music, theater and art programs.
* Greater traffic congestion will significantly lengthen the time that each of us spends on the road as we commute. Are you looking forward to an hour-long commute becoming two hours?
* We strive to keep the Potomac River clean, but its tributaries, such as Mattawoman Creek, are the lifeblood of the Potomac and the Chesapeake Bay. Mattawoman Creek is one of the most productive of the tributaries feeding the bay. As millions of dollars are spent in an effort to save the bay, Charles County is quietly planning a fatal blow.
* The FBI says the rate of crimes increases as the population density increases. Do you really want to worry more about the safety of your children and yourself and about your belongings being stolen? Children in the city do not enjoy the freedom to play and explore their creativity that our children enjoy. We were blessed to grow up in this environment. Do we want any less for our children?
Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 301-752-9612 for information about getting involved.
Health Care Solution
If "necessity is the mother of invention," we Americans had better get creative real fast if we are going to save ourselves from financial catastrophe as our health care crisis worsens.
All of us are facing drastically higher health insurance costs brought on in part by cash-strapped businesses reducing employee coverage.
More than a million Marylanders have inadequate or no medical insurance, and that drives up the premiums for the rest of us.
On April 19, General Motors Corp. blamed its dismal first-quarter results (a $1.1 billion loss) on its $5.6 billion annual health care tab.
Seventeen U.S. steel manufacturers and United Airlines have declared bankruptcy and cut their retirees' health benefits. Many corporations give up and send jobs out of the country.
But it's not just businesses and individuals being crushed by health care costs. Local school systems are reworking budgets to try to keep up with escalating health insurance rates. In St. Mary's County, the public schools' chief financial officer, Daniel Carney, said recently that "the cost of health care for school employees has almost doubled" since fiscal 2003.
The group Physicians for a National Health Program advocates a state and national "single-payer" system. The administrative savings and simplicity of a single-payer system would allow comprehensive, affordable coverage for all, with no new spending. Costs for 95 percent of citizens would be reduced, and everyone would have permanent coverage. The program would be publicly funded by closing corporate tax loopholes and by new payroll taxes on businesses that probably would be less than they now spend on employee health insurance.
This "improved Medicare" for all Americans, not just those older than 65, could replace our inefficient system of multiple private insurers. A recent Pew poll found that 72 percent of Americans favor government-guaranteed health insurance for all.
The National Health Insurance Act, which Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) introduced in February 2003, awaits action by a House subcommittee. Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) and Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) are co-sponsors.
Under the bill, HR 676, a family of three making $40,000 per year would spend about $1,600 per year for health care coverage. Annual premiums for employer-sponsored family health insurance were $9,068 in 2003, according to the nonpartisan National Coalition on Health Care.
A single-payer system would restore fairness and affordability to our nation's health care, and it just might keep American industry competitive in the world economy so that our jobs can stay at home. Ask Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) to support HR 676.
Frank L. Fox
Respect School Rules
I am writing to give my support for the recent decision by McDonough High School's administration to enforce the graduation ceremony dress code. Whatever happened to simply following the rules? This decision had nothing to do with cultural values and everything to do with following a set of expectations for the graduation dress code.
Thomas Benya should have consulted with the school administration long before the day of graduation to request an exception to the dress code. Instead, he wore what he wanted and expected the rule to not be enforced.
If he would have been allowed to ignore the dress code, then where do you draw the line? What is fair for one is fair for others.
As an educator for the past 11 years, I am infuriated to see this kind of mentality by the student and, worse, the parents. More parents are raising children who lack respect for rules and authority. What are we teaching our children by not holding them accountable for things they have done or not done? These are the people who one day will run our country.
I am sure Thomas will soon realize that he needs that diploma more than he thinks. Good for you, McDonough High School! And as for the apology, I would make Thomas apologize before giving him the diploma.
Pompano Beach, Fla.