New housing no panaceaFrom: Edward B. RogersEllicott CityI...

Readers write

May 06, 1992

New housing no panacea

From: Edward B. Rogers

Ellicott City

I would like to point out that houses are not cars. You may think this is obvious, but this distinction seems to be in some respects lost on various members of the government and business community.

Anyone of my vintage recalls the time when a new car every year was as much the American dream as owning your own home, and what was "good for General Motors was good for the country."

Well, as many members -- and former members -- of the UAW can now attest, the notion of unlimited consumption of certain manufactured products has some shortcomings, not only ecologically but economically.

As the unemployed and underemployed are exhorted to vote for this or that candidate who will "put America back to work," presumably building houses so that more and more people can own one, sell one and trade up to a more expensive one, several facts seem lost.

One, you cannot dispose of houses like cars. It just won't do to stack them up along both sides of the railroad tracks between here and New York like so many hulks of the bygone gas guzzlers.

Two, houses are substantially more expensive than cars (at least some cars) and the resulting market is much more cyclical, dependent on interest rates and the health of the economy -- even more than car sales.

Three, the collective bargaining possible in the manufacturing of cars has not been applied to housing construction. The safety net that auto workers' unions established for them is nowhere to be found that I know of in the construction industry.

So while forests are leveled, watersheds destroyed, speculators made rich and the taxpayers left holding the bag (the savings and loan scandal and ballooning tax rates to pay for infrastructure and support), we are promised by builders and developers that increased housing starts and home construction are the sure path to economic well-being.

It sounds like the same old sales pitch to me.

Whining changes nothing

From: Dan Brewer

Columbia

Several days ago, lobbyists stood outside the Howard County Central Library trying to get signatures for a term limitation petition with the news filled with scandals, such as the congressional rubber checks and scenes of outraged citizens demanding justice. I'd have expected great interest in the petition. Unfortunately, the opposite was true.

While I sat, awaiting my ride, scores of people went by, and of these, a mere handful even deigned to stop and listen.

In a nation where taking an active role in government is held so highly, there seems to be an appalling amount of disinterest and apathy. The people cry out, "Why doesn't somebody do something?" as they ignore elections and dodge "annoying" activists.

This behavior has no place in a country which holds ideals of freedom and political efficacy so highly. I sincerely hope that these ignorant and lazy people will stop whining, grow up, and take some action for once in their lives.

Stop suppressing the news

From: Brian Hulka

Ellicott City

A recent incident at Hammond High School involving a student journalist being disallowed to photograph a school drug bust has caught my attention.

I feel that most high school newspaper productions have difficulty understanding what the word "news" means. News is information. Stuff that people want or need to know about. Stuff that concerns the people of a certain area. And whether it be good, bad, or ugly, news is news and it should be reported.

Certainly a high school drug bust is newsworthy. I'm sure if you took a poll of the students at Hammond on whether or not they'd want to have an article and pictures published in their school paper, at least 90 percent would say yes.

I challenge the administration of Hammond to give reasons why the incident shouldn't be covered. "We must protect the identity of the student," they'll feebly claim.

I know some people from Hammond. Believe me, they're intelligent enough to realize that they could do a complete article with photos and everything without revealing the minor's name. Wow! What a brilliant concept, huh?

Unfortunately, this limitation of the First Amendment has become a trend among school newspapers, and I'd encourage the students of Howard County high schools to take action to help prevent similar incidents from occurring.

Human life is priceless

From: Janna Jarvis

Glenelg

As a result of the recent blood drives that have taken place in Howard County high schools, there have been several discussions about AIDS and HIV among students and teachers.

It really upset me to learn some of the feelings my fellow classmates had about the treatment and care of AIDS and HIV-positive patients. In one discussion, I was shocked to learn that some of my peers supported insurance companies who have chosen to drop AIDS patients because it costs too much money. I don't think society should place a dollar sign on human life!

It scares me that society is becoming so materialistic that people would rather keep their money than see it go to help someone who could really use it. I would hate to see someone die because they could not receive adequate health-care services.

For an insurance company to decide not to cover someone who has AIDS or is HIV-positive, or to have them drop someone who has it, that is basic discrimination. No one should be denied the right to live their life to the fullest, or have to die because of someone else's selfishness.

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