- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 28, 2002

Nurse shortage must be addressed

Goody L. Solomon's column "Remedying the nurse shortage" (Commentary, July 18) correctly characterizes this problem as "one of the most pressing issues facing the health care system today." Fortunately, a bipartisan bill called the Nurse Reinvestment Act (HR 3487) has just passed Congress and awaits President Bush's signature.
To improve the recruitment, education and retention of nursing staff, the bill provides for a public education campaign promoting the benefits of nursing, and establishes both a faculty loan program to boost teaching programs and a National Nurse Service Corps. The latter would provide financial assistance for education in return for two years of service in an area with a shortage of nurses.
There will be no quick fix to the nursing shortage, but the enactment and full funding of this legislation will, for the first time, encourage people to seek entry-level nursing jobs and move up to become licensed practical nurses and registered nurses. Additionally, the Nurse Reinvestment Act provides a much-needed focus on geriatric nursing.
This bill has been stuck in a legislative labyrinth for more than a year, and those deserving praise for seeing this through to congressional passage are Sens. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat; Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat; and Tim Hutchinson, Arkansas Republican; and Reps. Lois Capps, California Democrat; Michael Bilirakis, Florida Republican; Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Maryland Republican; and Edward Whitfield, Kentucky Republican.
We urge House and Senate appropriators to fully fund the provisions authorized by the Nurse Reinvestment Act and for Mr. Bush to sign this much-needed legislation into law immediately.

DR. CHARLES H. ROADMAN II
President and CEO
The American Health Care Association
Washington

Homeland Security Department has no clothes

Of the three views on homeland security legislation offered on Thursday's Op-Ed page, the one expressed by the Cato Institute's Ivan Eland makes the most sense.

I'm also not fooled by this farce of federal departments and agencies stepping all over each other while pretending to go after the terrorist menace. For it is so obvious that the real agenda of "homeland security" proponents is to seize the opportunity to create new and permanent fiefdoms. Protecting the nation is only a byproduct of such efforts. Because "we the people" are treated as an afterthought, we get such imbecilities as old ladies being strip-searched and 5-year-old girls being relieved of their backpacks at airports. Why is it that we citizens are all being treated as potential threats while the government shirks intelligently applied profiling of likely suspects and better scrutiny of immigration? It's all insane.

As Mr. Eland pointed out, we already have entities in place that are intended to defend us from threats, both foreign and domestic (Defense Department anyone?). We just need those departments and agencies to do a better job. As part of the effort to allow such agencies to do a better job, we should give them a longer leash: overseas for the CIA and domestically for the FBI, but only for specifically targeted purposes.

Offense is the best defense. If our focus all along had been to punish those who have victimized Americans for two decades, not abandon Afghanistan after it helped us bring down the Soviet Union, and to aggressively recruit foreign agents, the World Trade Center would still be standing and there would be no need for this sham Department of Homeland Security.


R. ADRIAN REILLY

Alexandria

Give Croatia a little credit

The Republic of Croatia is on the right track, contrary to assertions in Jeffrey Kuhner's column "Croatia's political and economic crisis" (Commentary, July 10). Croatia is a democratic country and reliable partner of the United States in Southeastern Europe, as President Bush acknowledged last month during his meeting with Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan in the Oval Office.

In 2001, Croatia signed the Stability and Association Agreement with the European Union, paving the way for the beginning of accession negotiations. It is expected that Croatia may join the European Union by 2006. This May, foreign ministers of NATO member countries confirmed Croatia's admission to the Membership Action Plan (MAP), which is expected to lead Croatia to full NATO membership by 2005. There is a broad political consensus for membership in NATO and the European Union, and Croatia is an active participant in the anti-terrorism coalition.

True, we have our economic problems, inherited primarily from the previous government, but the present coalition government has set and met a number of significant economic goals. We have been accepted as a member of the World Trade Organization, and membership in the Central European Free Trade Agreement is expected by the end of this year. We have 80 percent of our foreign trade under a free-trade regime. We have solved the liquidity problem while reducing the tax burden by cutting public spending by more than 10 percent. Privatization of government-owned industries continues briskly and has reached 40 percent, while political and social reforms have moved ahead impressively. Croatia continues to play a stabilizing role in the region.

Although Croatia, much like the other formerly communist countries in Central Europe, is facing the pains of economic reform, our gross domestic product is growing at a stabile 4 percent annually, with record-low inflation, macroeconomic stability and one of the lowest corporate income tax rates in Europe. Our per capita GDP is almost $5,000, not the $4,000 figure cited by Mr. Kuhner.

To some onlookers, the Croatian glass may appear half empty. To the majority of its citizens, Croatia is a country doing its best to fill the glass and ensure a prosperous future.


IVAN GRDESIC

Ambassador

Embassy of Croatia

Washington

The virtue of teen chastity, and a vile fact about teen sex

I applaud The Washington Times for running the article "Reported number of teen virgins rises" (Nation, July 22). It is heartening to read survey results showing that teens are heeding the abstinence message and that, as a result, the number of teen pregnancies is dropping. We know that teen pregnancy is the biggest contributor to poverty in the United States, and when it results in a child growing up in a single-parent home, that child is most likely to live in poverty his or her entire life.

The federal government and the state of Maryland have invested millions of dollars in sex education programs hoping that, as a result, teen pregnancies would drop. In fact, just the opposite has happened. As more money has been devoted to "safe sex" programs, the rate of teen pregnancies has continued to rise.

Now that we know that abstinence education is helping reduce teen pregnancies, I believe it's time to begin devoting more resources to teaching abstinence and much less to "safe sex" programs that have failed our teens. We owe this not only to our teens, but to our next generation of children, who will have a far better chance in life if they begin it with older, more mature and financially stable parents.


JANET GREENIP

Delegate for Legislative District 33

Maryland General Assembly

Crofton




The reduction in the number of teens in grades nine through 12 having sex during the past decade is welcome news. The federal government's promotion of teen-abstinence programs beginning in the mid-1990s is credited by many with the decrease, and this obviously is the basis for the decreasing numbers of teen pregnancies, abortions and births.

Yet when we see these reports of teen sex, we naturally think that teenage boys are having sex with teenage girls. However, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, men older than 20 father two-thirds of all babies born to teenage mothers. These data indicate that many teenage girls are being preyed on by adult men and are victims of statutory rape.

Unfortunately, there is no program to dissuade such sexual abuse of teens, and the recent survey of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics by Life Dynamics of Denton, Texas, shows that such sexual abuse of young girls is routinely covered up at Planned Parenthood clinics. Life Dynamics found that 80 percent of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinics contacted cover up the crime of statutory rape.

Teen sex, pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases can be cut even further by forcing Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to report teen sex abuse and by prosecuting those adult males who engage, many repeatedly, in teen sexual abuse. Certainly the federal government should stop providing millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood as a result of its cover-up of teen sexual abuse.


JOHN NAUGHTON

Silver Spring


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