- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2000

New gun laws makes criminals have to think twice[p]

The article "Violent crime rate drops 10.4%; a record for 26-year survey" (Aug. 28) discussed the long-term decline in the violent crime rate in the United States. Myriad reasons, many of them likely valid, were offered for this decline. However, one very important reason for the decline was not mentioned.
Since the early 1990s, a large number of states have made it easier for their citizens to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. Interviews with convicted criminals have almost universally validated the deterrent factor where individuals are allowed to carry concealed firearms. In those areas, the bad guys think twice before committing a crime because they are unable to tell who might be able to defend themselves. This deterrent provides protection and security to all citizens, whether they choose to exercise their right to carry or not.
The article indicated the Clinton-Gore folks were quick to take credit for the reduction in crime due to their "anti-crime strategy of more police on our streets and fewer guns in the wrong hands." I submit a better case could be made for giving credit to putting more guns in the right hands.

Column belittles masterpieces created before 1685, takes archaic view[p]

The opening paragraphs of Balint Vazsonyi's Aug. 22 Op-Ed piece "Bach in memoriam" severely disappointed me. Before paying tribute to Bach, Mr. Vazsonyi's deemed it necessary to debase all composers of the medieval, Renaissance and early baroque periods more than 1,000 years worth of music for which source materials survive.
As the thousands of members of the early music community and their growing public are now aware, music before 1685 (the year of Bach's birth) reached tremendous heights of artistic expression and technical virtuosity. Composers such as Guillaume de Machaut, Jean d'Ockeghem, Josquin des Prez, William Byrd and Claudio Monteverdi are at least as worthy as Bach and his descendants. And more musicologists, performers and concert-goers than ever before are becoming aware of these early masters and their thousands of contemporaries. Mr. Vazsonyi's article's Hegelian notion of a gradual and continuous progression in the quality of composition culminating in the almighty Bach is one that was popular in the 19th century and has largely been discredited in recent decades. But it seems that all it takes is one concert pianist who has never sung a Josquin Mass or participated in a Monteverdi opera to revive these archaic ideas.
Somerville, Mass.

Americans must protect Boy Scouts from President Clinton's attack[p]

I am constantly amazed at how the current climate of political correctness makes cowards of politicians, captains of industry, educators, military leaders and ordinary citizens ("Bush asks Clinton not to cut ties with Scouts," Sept. 1). The Boy Scouts of America exemplify what is good and just about America like no other organization. The Scouts have steadfastly promoted patriotism, personal honor, responsibility, sacrifice, self-reliance and virtue all values needed for a free nation to remain free. Yet, one by one, politicians, corporations and trusted public institutions turn their backs on this organization that fosters the very spirit of our country. I challenge all loyal Americans to support the Scouts. Speak up in their defense, send them contributions, lend them use of private lands and give them the moral support they deserve as they fight for our survival. As for the cowards, they do not deserve your business, your support and certainly not your vote.
The Clinton administration, which has had no problem trampling the Constitution in the past, is once again making a mockery of one of its most cherished principles the balance of powers. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Boy Scouts are not obligated to accept homosexual scoutmasters. However, Mr. Clinton and company have decided that they will take upon themselves the crusade of ignoring the high court's ruling. Instead of accepting the law of the land, they blatantly are seeking ways to attack an esteemed organization whose only fault has been a standard of morality and integrity that has served our nation well for a long, long time.
I am seriously concerned about the future of our nation. Mr. Clinton has paved a path toward tyranny with his legacy. His presidency has been a lesson in how to disregard and blaspheme our Constitution without being held accountable. For this, I place the blame squarely on a Republican members of Congress who have done nothing to stop him. Their lack of action has placed the nation in peril. Wake up, America. Do not allow this to go unchallenged.
Bryan, Texas

Letter compounds editorial's inaccuracies regarding unions[p]

The letter from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), "Union deal would inflate cost of Wilson Bridge" (Sept. 1) only compounds the inaccuracies about unions and project labor agreements (PLAs) put forth in your editorial, "No 'union only' Wilson Bridge" (Aug. 29). As the general president of the Laborers' International Union of North America, one of the largest unions in the construction industry, let me point out some facts overlooked by the ABC, Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III and The Washington Times.
Despite the claims forwarded by Mr. Gilmore, the ABC and The Times, union involvement is far more likely to hold steady or decrease the estimated costs. Not only would a PLA stabilize labor costs, but a 15-state study showed that paying lower wages does not lead to lower project costs. In fact, the study pointed out that where states paid the prevailing wage, as Maryland would do under a PLA, taxpayers saw a cost savings. There are three factors that contribute to this.
First, union labor is better trained and, as a result, more productive. The Laborers' International Union of North America provides extensive apprenticeship and career training programs, keeping our members up to date on the latest construction techniques, equipment and safety procedures. Our members know how to do their jobs well without endangering the lives or property of others.
Second, higher wages, health benefits and pension benefits that will be included in a PLA will attract the best workers union or otherwise. Laborers want to work on the Wilson Bridge, but no worker should be bilked out of fair wages and benefits by the members of the ABC. Additionally, nonunion workers will be able to apply for union membership and upgrade their skills with union-sponsored training.
Finally, a Wilson Bridge PLA will mean a reinvestment of capital into the greater Washington area. Under a PLA, jobs will go to local workers, meaning that area residents, their families and communities will benefit. The Laborers' Union is committed to ensuring that local communities benefit from a capital investment of this size. Because a project labor agreement will ensure that workers earn a living wage as well as benefits, the Wilson Bridge will boost the already booming local economy.
Union labor is the best trained construction work force, contrary to the claims of the ABC, Mr. Gilmore and The Washington Times. Before you trust Mr. Gilmore to make another major transportation decision, I would suggest a drive on the Springfield interchange. In the first 18 months of construction, the Gilmore administration announced cost overruns of $300 million to $500 million. It's no wonder Mr. Gilmore and the ABC don't want to stabilize wages. Then they would lose their scapegoats for mismanagement and incompetence. People of the District, Maryland and Virginia should not have to suffer through more Gilmore-ABC glibness on gridlock.
General President
Laborers' International Union
of North America

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