- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2000

District has a chance to help senior citizens

A program that would have helped disabled senior citizens in the District was not funded by the D.C. Council in the recently passed 2001 budget. However, the council will have an opportunity this week to rectify this situation. The proposed Interim Disability Assistance (IDA) program, which would provide temporary payments to D.C. residents who become disabled, is similar to comparable programs already being carried out in more than 35 states.
The increasing number of older D.C. residents who become disabled each year but are unable to receive even temporary assistance is shocking. Many who come to Legal Counsel for the Elderly for help have led productive, working lives. However, as a result of accidents or sudden illnesses, their savings are depleted, and they need help meeting immediate "survival" needs.
Applications for federal government disability assistance in such cases take six months or more to process. During that time, these once independent citizens become "wards" of the city, which then pays exorbitant sums for emergency health care, shelter and living expenses. The IDA program would relieve the city of most of these costs by providing immediate temporary assistance to needy citizens who become disabled until their disability applications are approved. Furthermore, once established, federal funds are available to reimburse the District for approximately half the costs of an IDA program after the initial year.
Council member Sandy Allen's Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on Friday on a specific bill (13-550) to authorize this vital program. We hope this is one Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the full council will agree on.
Volunteer attorney
Legal Counsel for the Elderly

Times congratulated for reporting on Xinhua apartment purchase

The Washington Times is to be commended for its reporting on the purchase of an apartment building in proximity to the Pentagon by the Chinese government's Xinhua News Agency. Because of the breaking of this story by The Washington Times, the State Department was forced to carry out its responsibility to enforce our laws and protect our security.
Whether it is the Department of Energy, State or Commerce, it seems the Clinton administration is prepared to compromise our national security for the sake of maintaining political and economic relations with the Chinese totalitarian regime.
I am left wondering where The Washington Post was on this story. Turning a blind eye to its friend in the White House, I presume.
Thank God for The Washington Times.
North East, Md.

The capital punishment debate still alive

While I normally agree with Tony Snow, I take issue with his opposition to the death penalty ("Death penalty pith … and penitence," Commentary, June 25). The death penalty is justified, in part, because of the paradoxical effect it has on society. Instead of devaluing life, as liberals would have us believe, the death penalty actually reaffirms the value and sanctity of human life.
Capital punishment shouts to society in no uncertain terms that we as a people so value innocent life that should someone take it in a premeditated fashion that individual will forfeit his own. A life sentence, on the other hand, while seemingly more compassionate, actually devalues life by implying that the price for murder is often a decade or so of inconvenience. Which of the two positions places a higher premium on human life, an eye for an eye or a jail term with time off for good behavior?
In addition, if we can agree there are times when it is appropriate to dispatch U.S. troops abroad to kill people while defending American interests, why is it immoral to defend society from home-grown predators who threaten the social order? If the primary role of government is to protect the governed from threats, both foreign and domestic, what difference does it make whether the threat comes from a foreign tyrant or some home-grown killer? Capital punishment is nothing but the stepsister of the "just war" theory, and if you throw out one you must throw out the other.
Mount Vernon


It took two readings before I could bring myself to believe that Tony Snow wrote of his opposition to the death penalty.
He writes: "America's Founders talked of an inalienable right to life a right granted by God and thus not revocable by man."
Fine. But the Founders also spoke of an inalienable, God-given right to liberty (as well as the pursuit of happiness). So if there is an inalienable right to life and an inalienable right to liberty, then not only should we not execute convicted murderers, we should not incarcerate them either. In fact, we shouldn't even arrest them.
Extending Mr. Snow's logic a bit further, no one has the right to use lethal force in defense of his own life. While would-be "Coldblooded killers have earned the harshest punishment short of death" (Mr. Snow's words), if you can't stop someone intent on killing you other than by killing him, well tough. Just shut up and die.
Methinks Mr. Snow has been wearing his fancy neckties a tad too tight of late.

Injuries decreasing without OSHA mandate

The June 13 column "Ergonomics designed by OSHA" (Commentary) was right on the mark, which must have been the reason Occupational Safety and Health Administration's administrator, Charles Jeffress, felt the need to respond to it ("Column's posturing on OSHA proposal misses the mark," Letters, June 29).
The private sector doesn't always need federal bureaucrats to intervene and solve its problems. Of course businesses have a strong interest in making sure their workers are healthy. Employers (such as the ones Mr. Jeffress mentions, as well as countless others) and employees have been working together quietly, privately and successfully for 20 years to solve ergonomic problems. The result: Programs voluntarily designed and implemented by businesses over the past decade have cut repetitive stress and other ergonomics injuries by 22 percent. This trend should continue, eliminating the ergonomic problem over the next decade without any government regulation, by Employment Policy Foundation estimates.
OSHA's ergonomics proposal is controversial not merely because of cost (although we estimate that the errors, omissions and unsupported assumptions in OSHA's analysis mean the cost to business is far more than what OSHA estimates to the tune of $31.2 billion to $95.1 billion annually). It is controversial because it will actually hurt the workers OSHA says it intends to help. OSHA's proposal will force companies to abandon their effective, individually tailored and need-focused ergonomics efforts to follow a prescription that requires the same response to every complaint no matter how big or small. The OSHA plan will cause protection resources to be spread thinly across the workplace instead of being focused on the most important problem areas. The result will be less protection at a higher cost.
Ironically, the workers most lacking in ergonomic protections are in the very government agencies responsible for writing these regulations, such as OSHA itself. A 10-minute tour of OSHA's office in Washington reveals scores of ergonomically hazardous chairs, improperly positioned keyboards and monitors positioned at neck-straining angles. "Physician, heal thyself."
Chief economist
Employment Policy Foundation
The Employment Policy Foundation is a research and educational foundation whose purpose is to provide economic analysis and commentary on U.S. employment policies affecting the competitive goals of American industry and the people it employs.

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