- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2002

Defending foreign workers on U.S. bases

Having served in the Navy, lived in Bahrain for a year (2000-2001) and traveled to various bases in the Middle East, I know about foreign nationals employed on our overseas bases.

Yesterday's editorial "Are all the bases covered?" presents a lucid and well thought out argument on the security risk they pose, and it inspired me to read the Defense Department report "Insider Threat Mitigation." In turn, I have a few comments on the topic.

Each of the proposed ideas to replace foreign workers with U.S. citizens, to "bolster security," and to "reassess the need for maintaining foreign bases abroad" is good, but rather than being addressed by military officials, these ideas should be addressed by government officials.

First, U.S. foreign policy is set by our government and supported by our military, not decided by it. Second, to replace foreign nationals with U.S. citizens would only mean putting more U.S. citizens in harm's way in such places as those addressed in the editorial: Kuwait, Indonesia and Yemen. It is an unfortunate risk to allow foreign nationals to occupy the majority of the service jobs on our bases. Additionally, they provide relatively cheap labor albeit more than what they would make at another job in the same country while allowing the United States to maintain a lower profile in a given country.

Yet, it is always a risk to serve in the military. As Operational Risk Management dictates, "Safety is paramount," but as one of my colleagues once responded, "We [servicemen] live and work in an inherently dangerous environment."

It is unfortunate that recent events have made being a serviceman once again a respected occupation. At the same time, we have to remember why the military exists: to defend our country.

One final comment. There is cyclical debate whether servicemen are paid enough. What is the price to pay someone to risk their lives daily? Most servicemen would argue that they don't get paid enough. But, you ask, why do they continue serving their country? I would say that most serve their country because of something intangible a sense of pride in defending freedom.

Whether this is acknowledged by their compensation or even by their fellow citizens is irrelevant.


ROBERT A. JOHNSON

Arlington, Va.

Liberal groups deny ties to Townsend campaign

We take exception to yesterday's editorial "Townsend's propaganda campaign." It accuses our organizations of being part of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's Maryland gubernatorial campaign. In reality, her campaign knew nothing about our radio ad nor our plans to educate the public about Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s dismal voting record and approach to health care and the environment.

Our groups recently declared Mr. Ehrlich "hazardous to your health." The facts speak for themselves.

• Mr. Ehrlich has a miserable record on the environment and has co-sponsored or voted for bills to gut strong federal clean-air regulations or weaken enforcement of existing air pollution standards.

• Mr. Ehrlich does not support higher tobacco taxes, even though the World Bank, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health have concluded that higher tobacco prices drive down smoking rates.

• Mr. Ehrlich does not support a state-based "bulk purchase plan" to reduce prescription drug prices for seniors and the uninsured.

• Mr. Ehrlich does not support providing all Marylanders with access to quality and affordable health care.

We have the documentation. If The Washington Times cares about health care and the health of the environment, it, too, will conclude that Mr. Ehrlich is hazardous to our health.


VINCENT DEMARCO

Executive director

Maryland Citizens' Health Initiative

Baltimore


SUE BROWN

Executive director

Maryland League of Conservation Voters

Annapolis

Not on a first-name basis, please

In reading The Washington Times, I notice that Iraq's Saddam Hussein habitually is referred to merely as "Saddam." There was a time when this friendly, informal mode of address served a purpose: There were other Middle Eastern leaders with the last name of Hussein (most notably, King Hussein of Jordan), and using the name "Saddam" was meant to avoid confusion. But Saddam is now the only Hussein in the region, so referring to him in this folksy manner is no longer necessary.

Thus, I urge The Times, and all other media outlets, to stop calling this butcher by his first name. Nazi Germany's leader, by way of comparison, is never referred to as "Adolf."


PARRISH S. KNIGHT

Silver Spring, Md.

Memphis blues

As a Memphian, I think Suzanne Fields should have talked to more of our regular citizens (both black and white) before she wrote the upbeat column "Memphis in black, white and blues" (Op-Ed, yesterday ). Then maybe she would have learned that we are still a backwater town.

Our schools are rated dead last in the state, and some are being threatened with being taken over by the state. Our crime rate is through the roof.

The city keeps annexing sites but provides no convenient access to those communities. The city is paralyzed by tree huggers who prefer little-used parks to freeways that could provide citizens easier access to their jobs. Every time a proposed freeway or updated road is brought up, the lawsuits abound and gridlock ensues. The greatest suggestion these people have is that people should not live in suburbs but move back to the core city.

Yet, while Memphis was once rated the cleanest city in the country, it is now a garbage heap. Oh, and for the icing on the cake, we are saddled with a $300 million sports arena that we were prohibited from voting on while the city raised our taxes to pay for it.

No, Mrs. Fields, all is not well in River City.


FRANKIE GUINLE

Memphis, Tenn.

Analyzing the Gephardt tax-cut plan

The editorial discussing Rep. Richard Gephardt's tax cut proposal, which he offers as part of an "economic-stimulus plan," begs the simple question: Is government spending good or bad for the economy ("Gephardt on tax cuts," yesterday)? If cutting taxes stimulates the economy, then it must be good for it, and raising taxes must be bad.

But since taxes in some form must follow spending, then it follows that big spenders must also be big taxers. And the crowd that Mr. Gephardt, Democrat of Missouri, runs in is known for its endless schemes to spend taxpayers' money.

How many weeks ago were we told by Mr. Gephardt and his friends in Congress that the government "could not afford" to make President Bush's tax cuts permanent? If we can't "afford" those tax cuts, then how can we "afford" Mr. Gephardt's?

Sadly, whenever a politician proposes special tax breaks, or targeted tax credits, he is proposing to increase the paperwork and cost of tax compliance and preparation, as well as IRS costs and head count. Every special tax break requires about a three page form, a five page worksheet and 10 pages of instructions. Few people qualify for them, and those who do rarely get enough of a tax reduction to even pay for the trouble of applying for it.

My personal tax return for the last year was 31 pages long and cost me $1,200 to have professionally prepared. The process and expense of filing it was in itself a tax on my time and wallet. If a foreign power had threatened to impose this gulag of a system on my grandfather's generation, they would have rightly considered it an act of war on their liberty.

What is really needed is for government to reduce spending. Then we the people could afford to buy more, to invest more, to hire more, to build more. Reduced government spending is the only way to really reduce taxes. But I have not heard any politician recently mention this idea. It is just too easy to spend other people's money once you have it in your hands.


EWIN BARNETT

Boone County, Mo.


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