Letters to the Editor - March 15

March 15, 2011

Time to revise the 14th Amendment

To the editor:

In 1868, when the 14th Amendment became a part of our Constitution, the purpose was to insure the rights and citizenship of blacks and their descendents after the Civil War with the abolishment of slavery. Section one of the amendment states, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States: nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law: nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Today, with many ethnic, racial and national culture groups immigrating to our country, it is time to change the 14th Amendment to meet the time and situation that now exists. If legal or illegal person have offspring born while in the United States the 14th Amendment by some interpretation is causing a myriad of problems. We must provide education, health care and many other services for them and at the cost of all those naturally born here of naturalized parents, or those who chose to become American citizens by the rules of law.

The original 14th Amendment did not address or foresee this problem or imagine the consequences. The existing 14th Amendment does not pertain to today's society. We must recognize this problem and have it more related to modern society. Just a suggestion: We should change the first sentence to read, "All persons born in the United States naturalized or those persons of other, ethnic, racial or national culture, that have complied with the requirements dictated by the immigration laws and their offspring will be come naturalized citizens of the United States and protected as warranted." I would suggest a panel of scholars with political science backgrounds be appointed to review antiquated laws and documents and modernize same.

Tom Wilhelm



We forgot to change with the times

To the editor:

The recently-released 2010 census serves to remind us Marylanders how we are required to suspend logic and ignore important governmental lessons being demonstrated just miles away.

Yes, Frederick is Maryland's second-largest city with 65,239 people, unless we count the real runner-up, Columbia, with its 99,615 people. Or Germantown (86,395), or Silver Spring (71,452), or Waldorf (67,752), or Glen Burnie (67,639), or Ellicott City (65,824).

Second or seventh, what's the difference?

And, yes, Hagerstown is still Maryland's sixth-largest city with 39,662 people, unless we count the 15 other communities with more population that push it down to twenty-first. Places like Towson and Potomac and Severn and such.

These are real cities. But they are cities that never bothered to incorporate, choosing instead to let their counties provide the municipal services we get from city hall.

And, somehow, under the same state laws we have (remember, they're in Maryland, too, just like us) it works. Somehow, Howard County makes it work with both a city more than two-and-a-half times bigger than Hagerstown (Columbia) and a city more than 50 percent larger (Ellicott City). Amazing!

The point is that while we Hagerstonians live with duplication of services and double taxation, 900,000 Marylanders living in larger communities laugh at our quaint 18th-century governmental structure.

And it is time that someone among our elected officials should acknowledge this reality and have the guts and sense of responsibility to lead the city and county into merger.

Mike McGough


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