BoondoggleThe Sun Oct. 14 carried an analysis article...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 23, 1993

Boondoggle

The Sun Oct. 14 carried an analysis article under the headline "State, city worked together to develop housing plan" that discussed the cooperation that resulted in a $293.6 million proposal to demolish and replace 1,116 units of public housing.

Your analysts (certainly they are not reporters) missed the real story, which is that state, city and federal employees are conspiring to bilk the taxpayers of the city, state and country to build public housing at the cost of over $250,000 per dwelling unit. (The figure takes in to account an overly generous estimate of $10 million for demolition costs.)

Rather than congratulations, it appears that you should have been calling for a grand jury investigation, and firing or impeachment of incompetent and/or corrupt officials that were involved.

It is mind-boggling how anyone can seriously propose to spend more for a public housing unit than the majority of employed, hard-working citizens can afford to pay for a house of their own; particularly when it takes virtually no imagination or originality to arrive at alternative approaches that would cost far less and have a better chance of not having to be torn down in the future.

Buying available housing in the city is one way. A for-profit builder could create an attractive townhouse project with a lower population density than the bureaucrats' project for about $75,000 per dwelling unit. That cost assumes a lack of unreasonable government interference, with such interference the cost could be up to $25,000 per unit higher.

It is not too late to stop this outrageously wasteful boondoggle. Hopefully The Sun will atone for its oversight and take the lead in stopping this and other projects that are grossly wasteful of taxpayer dollars.

Maclyn McCarty Jr.

Baltimore

Too Insightful

How far did you have to go to find an African-American writer who would serve as a detractor to Toni Morrison the day after she won the Nobel Prize?

Did you search for a source who would call Nadine Gordimer "a middle brow fiction writer" or disqualify Nelly Sachs the day after the committee found her qualified? No wonder African-American writers have felt the need to step forward en masse and defend this jewel of their own.

If Toni Morrison were of white European ancestry, her vision, historical perspective and definitively North American bent on magical realism would have required no further qualification.

As the recipient of the prize itself, she would have been heralded as yet another notch on the belt of the American literary establishment.

The fact is Toni Morrison is too insightful an American for the Americans. It is for this reason that we have lost our greatest black novelists, poets, dancers and musicians to countries that celebrate the talents of those artists, when their own country restricts them to the periphery of this American culture, which is as much about "jazz" as it is about cowboys.

Maureen Martindale

Baltimore

Encyclical

I found myself puzzled after reading George Weigel's Opinion * Commentary piece on Pope John Paul II's new encyclical, "Veritatis Splendor" ("The Right of Being Able to Do What We Ought," Oct. 8).

Mr. Weigel starts out by praising the encyclical for its so-called "Christian humanism" and its assertion that humans can answer difficult moral questions "not by rote submission to religious authoritarianism, but because human beings have the capacity to discern the truth of things and the ability to act on that discernment." So far, this all sounds perfectly reasonable to me. But then Mr. Weigel turns around and blames society's ills on what he calls "moral relativism." When have morals ever been anything other than relative? Morality is defined by individuals and by the communities in which they live.

The concept of morality differs from culture to culture, and it changes with time.

In the Bible, it says that if a woman goes to help her husband during a fight and inadvertently touches his attacker's private parts, "then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her." Would we consider such punishment moral in 20th century America? I certainly hope not.

Just a century ago, slavery was socially sanctioned in this country. Clearly, morality has to change over time if society is to ,, grow and mature.

The pope can safely condemn murder as evil -- nobody will argue with that -- but many people today would take issue with him when he labels birth control as "sinful." So if Pope John Paul II and George Weigel truly believe in "Christian humanism," they should be prepared for humans to decide in their own hearts what is moral and what is not.

John Clayton

Columbia

No Abortions

I appreciate your publishing the lengthy article by Sandy Banisky, "Arson at Planned Parenthood clinic stuns many in tranquil Pa. county" (Oct. 11).

An error appeared, however, when Ms. Banisky described it as ". . . the third arson attack on an abortion clinic in ten days . . ."

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