- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2003

Puerto Rico and federal taxes

Kenneth D. McClintock, minority leader of the Puerto Rican Senate, equates Social Security and Medicare taxes with federal income taxes ("Puerto Ricans pay up, too," Letters, April 21). Employing analogous reasoning, will Fairfax County forgive my property tax obligation if I prove I made an equivalent deposit to my 401(k)?
Mr. McClintock complains that "Congress denies … [Puerto Rico] equal treatment under certain key federal programs. …" Yet, the majority of Puerto Ricans have consistently rejected referendums on statehood or independence. If territorial status is so onerous, it is past time for Mr. McClintock to rally like-minded Puerto Ricans and opt for the independence so readily available to them.

CHIP DRURY
Alexandria

Equal punishment for deadbeat parents

It is a shame that the government and news media seem to care more about arresting dads who fail to pay child support than changing the biased child-support laws that abuse dads emotionally and financially ("Jail time coming for deadbeat dads," Page 1, April 20).
If a father has one child, he must give up 16 percent of his paycheck to the child's mother for the child. Outside expenses, such as school tuition and hired child care, are not included in child support. Each parent buys the child their own birthday and holiday gifts and pays for entertainment when they take the child somewhere. So, basically, child support is for the child's upkeep, which consists of school clothes, sneakers, some small expenses and food when the child is with the mother. Since both parents should be splitting these costs evenly, that means it must cost 32 percent of the average parents' paycheck just for the upkeep of one child for child support to be fair. But in no way does it cost this much for the upkeep of one child.
Secondly, deadbeat mothers who receive tons of child support and still do not buy their children the necessities are never arrested. In fact, there is no system in place that makes mothers prove they are buying the proper necessities for their children. It is time to fix the inequalities in current child-support laws.

TIM CARAVELLO
New York

Circumcising the truth

The tone of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) report on reducing the spread of HIV through male circumcision is very unfortunate ("Circumcision shown to deter HIV spread," World, Friday).
Circumcision or, to call it by its more accurate name, genital mutilation is a barbaric practice. There can be no justification for its use. In an age in which the United States is the only Western country that still routinely performs genital mutilation on its infant boys, USAID's enthymematic recommendation to return to broader use of this practice is a huge step backward.
HIV infection is tragic, and we do well to treat it seriously. However, employing genital mutilation to reduce its spread is like employing the guillotine to prevent brain tumors, especially when one considers that proper hygiene is at least as effective at preventing disease as genital mutilation.
By the way, has USAID ever heard of condoms? Just curious.

PARRISH S. KNIGHT
Silver Spring

What's wrong with this picture?

Page A2 of Saturday's newspaper features an Associated Press photo of a sailor, just returned from a long cruise, holding his newborn son while his fiancee stands close by, her hands clasped gleefully over her face. What's wrong with this picture? It skews real family values.
The Washington Times promotes itself as a family-friendly paper that supports values, and in nearly every edition, the truth of that claim can be found in abundance. This time, however, the filter was not turned on. This picture features two selfish, unthinking young adults who have produced an innocent new child without the benefit of marriage. Oh, sure, marriage may be on their list of things to do in the future, like taking the car for servicing or going to the grocery store. But their carelessness in getting things in the right order for the sake of not just themselves and their families, but most importantly, this beautiful new child is a demonstration of the "Me Generation" at its near-worst.
When this photograph was taken there were probably a dozen married couples who could have instead been featured, resulting in the more powerful message of service to country and preservation of strong family values. Even with this faux pas, however, I think The Washington Times remains America's finest newspaper.

DAVID J. KING
Bethesda

Fabricated steel

Thursday's letter from University of Maryland Professor Peter Morici, "Steel tariffs benefit economy," includes many of the usual inaccuracies that domestic steel producers have used to gain government protection from global competition.
Without offering any evidence, Mr. Morici, a paid consultant to U.S. steel producers, claims that the Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition (CITAC) study on job losses in steel-consuming industries is "flawed." The study findings that 200,000 Americans were unemployed in 2002 as a result of steel price increases are "flawed" only in the minds of a few steel industry partisans, such as Mr. Morici and his employers.
Mr. Morici's claims that the study did not take into consideration "important factors" is baseless. No one, including domestic steel producers, has been able to find legitimate flaws in the economic modeling used in the CITAC study. The results of the study are solid and have withstood vicious attacks by those allied with domestic steel producers.
Mr. Morici also has his facts wrong on global steel prices. U.S. steel consumers are paying more than in almost any other world market, in large part as a result of the tariffs. What matters to steel consumers is what they are paying for steel compared to their global competitors. U.S. steel consumers are losing business to offshore competitors at an alarming rate.
Protection of the domestic steel industry has been tried nine times in the last 30 years, and it hasn't worked. After all this protection, the steel industry will lose much of its customer base because steel consumers in the United States will either move offshore or close their doors.

LEWIS LEIBOWITZ
Counsel
Consuming Industry Trade Action Coalition Steel Task Force
Washington

Stop the sting

"D.C.'s new parking sting" (Editorial, Friday) convinced me that the government of the District of Columbia should be hauled into court and prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Evidently, the District is raking in cash through officially sanctioned criminal behavior: ticketing legally parked cars.
This cynical disregard for the rule of law stinks. Stealing is stealing, and it is particularly reprehensible when the perpetrator is a government. Totalitarian regimes routinely follow the axiom of "the ends justify the means," but that cannot be tolerated anywhere in the United States of America. If His Honor Mayor Anthony A. Williams reads this letter, here's some advice: Stop the stealing. Stop it now. Fire the criminals. Refund the money to the victims and apologize to them.

GLENN HELMS
Laurel

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