Letters to the Editor

Baltimore Sun, July 23, 2008:

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution clearly prohibits any laws abridging “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” What laws, then, were our state law enforcement officers enforcing when they engaged in surveillance of peaceful anti-war and anti-death penalty groups (“Spying uncovered,” July 18)? While the Maryland State Police infiltrated their living rooms, Baltimoreans suffered the persistent pain of real crime. In 2005, while the state police spent hundreds of hours investigating citizens who were doing their solemn patriotic duty to oppose the decisions of governments, 338 human beings were murdered in the Baltimore area. Thousands in Baltimore were the victims of violent crime, while our law enforcement officers were taking notes on the views of a candidate for Baltimore County state’s attorney. Police surveillance of peaceful assembly raises serious legal and political questions, surely, but it also reveals the government’s tragic misallocation of resources and negligently misplaced priorities.

Chronicle of Higher Education, April 11, 2008:

Kudos to Ben Yagoda for his brave piece on unpaid internships. As he explains, students whose parents can support them financially can take unpaid internships and enhance their résumés. Those whose parents do not have the financial means can apply only for less intellectually stimulating jobs that will not do much for them after college.

While Yagoda focuses on the tuition costs for academic credit, I would like to point out that there are several other costs of taking an unpaid internship. Transportation to the internship site can be a significant expense. Students may have to spend the summer far from home, where they will have housing costs to cover. Many students will have to purchase a wardrobe appropriate for an office setting.

I have mixed feelings about colleges’ providing their students with summer internship funds. By doing so, colleges enable the irresponsible behavior of employers who wish avoid paying appropriate wages.

Organizations should pay their workers, including interns. Shame on those who would construe an internship as an experience instead of what it really is: a job. I feel somewhat differently about nonprofit employers, but I believe there is a certain irony involved when human-rights organizations that advocate for workers’ rights do not pay their own workers anything at all.