A fond farewell to hand-wringers and this column



Things I don't want to hear any more:

1) The holiday shopping season will be awful for retailers, and frightened consumers will scurry back into their holes for six more months of recession.

Traditional holiday seasons are gone forever, and so will be the retailers who depended on them.

2) Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke is such a nice guy, and smart, too!

3a) Despite years of huge budget deficits and little indication that Congress will ever be capable of balancing the budget, the proper national fiscal policy would be to cut taxes.

3b) Despite years of large percentage increases in state spending and relatively modest recession cutbacks compared with the private economy, the proper state fiscal policy would be to raise taxes.

4) Orioles Park at Camden Yards will be the best place in recorded history to watch or play a baseball game. Kevin Costner should only be so lucky.

5) Without such departed business greats as banker Alan Hoblitzell Jr. and insurance head Jack Moseley, our economy will shrivel and die.

6) The decade of greed has brought us the decade of need.

7) The Baltimore-Washington corridor has the world's greatest concentration of scientists. Put these guys in business suits and send them out there hawking biotechnology products, and we'll all be rich.

8) Ocean City, here we come!

9a) Baltimore is too poor to ever recover and is doomed without massive doses of outside money.

9b) Baltimore's schools are too poor to ever recover and are doomed without massive doses of outside money.

9c) The state of Maryland, the country, the environment and mankind as we know it are too poor to ever recover and are doomed without massive doses of outside money.

If these attitudes prevail, we will be doomed. Instead of waiting for rescuers who don't exist, the area's troubled institutions must fashion other solutions, including new partnerships with businesses and other healthy institutions.

Philanthropy must increase, and we have the private resources to do much better. Further, it's not only the financial giants who can make a difference here. Pooling resources in an endowment may be the best way for smaller givers to make their marks.

The Community Foundation of Baltimore, by example, has doubled in size in recent years and now can spend upwards of $2 million to help meet community needs each and every year.

Such general-purpose foundations (the Community Foundation also accepts restricted gifts and just about any other legal bequest) are vital to the area's future, especially in an era of reduced government support.

10) Your columns are too long and I never understand them because they're so complicated, and why do you pick on the mayor so much, anyway?

If No. 10 applies to you, I have good news. Today's column will be my last for The Sun, at least for a goodly while, as I move into full-time editing and administrative duties.

Writing a column is one of life's great privileges, and I'm fortunate to have enjoyed it for so long.

When I joined The Sun in 1982, Baltimore's cup seemed full almost to the point of overflowing. The city was on a roll with its new Inner Harbor, the National Aquarium and a growing wad of press clippings about the Little Urban Engine That Could.

Today, in the midst of recession, increased urban violence and sharp budget cuts, our cup often seems nearly empty.

Sugar-coating the recession won't make it go away. But if you look around, hard times have arrived nearly everywhere -- California is reeling, growth is slowing in Europe, and even Japan is bracing for leaner times.

The city and state have stepped up to take their fiscal medicines, and the region's private sector has done the same. So, perhaps it's time to put away the hair shirt and stop leading with our chins.

This is where I chose to live. It was and is a good decision.

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