- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Making baseball better

The Associated Press wire article concerning dwindling crowds at Major League Baseball games focuses primarily on the high cost of tickets ("High prices, war chase away fans," Sports, yesterday). There are other forces driving the decline in attendance.
The most important probably is the length of the game. Many would consider a three-hour game long. With many games stretching four hours and more, three hours seems short. If a game starts at 7 p.m., you are not home and in bed until after midnight.
Add to that the lack of loyalty of players to their teams and the lack of loyalty of the teams to their players. The rosters are like revolving doors, with players coming and going. This keeps many fans from identifying with the players.
I think the constant noise at games also contributes to lower attendance. We are constantly assaulted by announcers, video screens and music between batters. Baseball is supposed to be relaxing, but with the audio and visual assaults on our senses, it is impossible to relax.
Once these factors are addressed and the game is made more attractive, the problem of high ticket prices should be tackled.

ART SKILLMAN
Germantown

1 billion satisfied customers

Whether letter writer Parrish S. Knight's virulent opposition to circumcision is based on religious prejudice, personal experience or an effort to restrict the freedom of practice of this procedure, I do not know ("Circumcising the truth," Monday). However, his views are not shared by many in the medical profession, not to mention something like a billion males worldwide, including myself.
I have seen none of the trauma Mr. Knight associates with those who are circumcised, nor do I remember the supposed brutal operation conducted at the age of 8 days on my person.
Mr. Knight may have a problem with circumcision, but his opinions and those of a very critical minority should not prevent a procedure with proven benefits, both healthwise and religious.

NELSON MARANS
Silver Spring

Guns and brothers

As the keynote speaker at the National Rifle Association's annual convention, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush praised the NRA for playing a large role in getting his brother elected to the presidency. "Were it not for your active involvement, it's safe to say my brother would not be president of the United States," Mr. Bush told his audience.
According to exit poll data, 48 percent of those who voted in Florida in the 2000 election were gun owners, and, as The Washington Times reported ("Inside Politics," Nation, Monday), "NRA support played a key role" in getting out the pro-Bush vote.
During his speech, the governor announced, "The sound of our guns is the sound of freedom." He also claimed that the president is a supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. Jeb Bush certainly is right about guns playing a critical role in maintaining our liberties. Unfortunately, his brother's support for that position is considerably suspect.
It is the Bush Justice Department that is prosecuting, with the president's blessing, District residents who have dared to exercise this right in defiance of the District's unconstitutional handgun ban. Turning from bad to worse, a White House spokesman also has revealed that the president supports a continuation of the assault weapons import ban due to end in September 2004.
So, if handguns and military-style rifles fall outside the protection of the Second Amendment, exactly which guns do the Bush brothers believe make the "sound of freedom"? Clearly not those most needed by free people for protection against criminals in government and violent thugs on the streets.
Jeb Bush can pat the NRA on the back for having helped to elect a "pro-gun" president, but the real thanks go to the president himself for showing us, through his Clintonesque behavior, that the new boss is more like the old boss than anyone cares to admit.

SCOTT McPHERSON
Policy adviser
Future of Freedom Foundation
Fairfax

Nukes for sale

The United States faces the same (but missed) opportunity with North Korea as it did with the Soviet Union at its collapse: to buy nuclear weapons instead of waiting for them to be dismantled ("N. Korea offers to dismantle nukes," Page 1, yesterday). We embarked on a policy of encouraging the former Soviet states to dismantle their weapons. At that time, they were desperate for money. Any price we paid for a weapon would have been worth the comfort of knowing it was in the hands of the United States and not sold to some terrorist. Now we cannot account for many of those former Soviet nukes.
So what if North Korea is "extorting" aid from the United States? I would rather give the North Koreans $5 billion in money and food than go through another invasion. The North Koreans are likely to be a bit tougher than the Iraqi Republican Guard. Nevertheless, even that brief war cost us about $1 billion per day over 23 days (and counting). All we need to do is get the weapons out of North Korea; we don't need to save the Korean people from themselves.
I am not antiwar, by any means, but I just think buying weapons is a cheaper, smarter alternative. If we buy them, we get physical possession of the real thing, not promises that might prove empty. My thought is that effort would be as effective as waiting for the North Koreans to destroy weapons on their own and trusting that they did.

T.M. BOYLE
Tampa, Fla.

Third World success story

Criticizing the welfare state in his column "Human livestock" (Commentary, Saturday), Thomas Sowell notes that "[welfare] breaks the connection between what people have produced and what they consume." Allow me to provide a real-life example of an entire country embracing this truism.
Realizing the importance of this connection to national development, newly independent Tunisia in 1956 outlawed begging as one its first acts. This was done to let people know that they must work for what they receive instead of depending on the largess or labor of others, be they individuals or government agencies.
Instilling this work ethic among Tunisians, along with granting equal rights to women, enabled this once poor little country to take maximum advantage of its only valuable natural resource its people. As a result, Tunisia became one of the few countries to outgrow the need for American foreign aid and is today a prosperous society extending lessons of self-help to others.

LORNA HAHN
Executive director
Association on Third World Affairs Inc.
Washington

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