Not everyone upset about urban sprawlThe Sun has once...


July 10, 1996

Not everyone upset about urban sprawl

The Sun has once again come out heroically against urban sprawl (June 22) and has been joined by Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who has an agenda to stop this dread disease. They will, of course, be applauded by land planning gurus, local politicians and ersatz eggheads of every ilk.

Obviously the only people who approve of urban sprawl are the vast majority who either enjoy the living space that urban sprawl makes available to them on an individual or family basis -- or those who wish they could enjoy it. The citizenry wisely votes for urban sprawl with their mortgage payments and with their feet (or automobiles). Suburbanites have indeed escaped from the increased pollution, crime, noise and inevitable daily irritations of more people in less space in the city.

So we have lost farmland. Big deal! Our country still produces a surplus of food at reasonable prices and many marginal farmers have been made wealthy through development of their land. And we have lost timberland -- that land upon which free markets place the lowest values because no one has much use for it. Take a ride through Western Maryland to get an idea of the threat to timberland. Or visit a well-treed suburban subdivision.

And so our governor, our local politicians and land planning gurus will promote additional, costly government subsidies which work at cross purposes to each other. The citizenry will pay for agricultural preservation programs through direct subsidies and through increased lot prices because land is made scarce by large-lot zoning practices -- and both such programs contribute to urban sprawl and increase the cost of housing in the suburbs.

It is unfortunate that housing and factories wear out and become obsolete, but they do. In due course, free market forces will moderate the problems. Maybe modest government programs and propaganda can accelerate the process, but $72 million in tax money for "community conservation programs" sounds like a lot. Furthermore, it is money spent on programs and bureaucrats in competition with free market forces attempting to provide comparable facilities in the more congenial atmosphere of the suburbs.

"Urban sprawl" has become a sure-fire whipping boy and bogey man for those who promote expensive government programs. We owe it to ourselves to re-evaluate the term and to abandon the knee-jerk negative reaction to it. . . . and we need to be wary of the anti-suburban propaganda foisted upon us by the press and the politicians.

alcolm B. Kane

Ellicott City

Honor code taken seriously

I am responding to your June 6 editorial concerning the honor code at the U.S. Naval Academy and Midshipman Naomi Jackson.

In 1984, I was made aware of a plebe who was asked one summer morning, "Have you shaved today?" The plebe replied, "Yes, sir." The hair growth on the plebe's face indicated that the reply was a lie -- he had not shaved. That plebe was permanently separated from the Naval Academy that same day.

The other plebes who learned of or witnessed the incident were impressed. They knew that the Naval Academy took the honor code seriously and expected, without waivering, that the code be upheld by everyone.

Faye J. Mager


Enemy is hardly the right word

A comment in the June 30 Sunday Sun by one of the participants in the ''Day of Commitment'' was so revolting that I felt compelled to respond.

Herb Baze of Baltimore is credited with this enlightened quote: ''This was very educational. As black men, we need to know that the white man ain't the only enemy. Sometimes we can be our worst enemy.''

As a white man with friends and colleagues of many races, I find it offensive to be referred to as ''the enemy.''

If Mr. Baze's opinion of white men as his ''enemy'' is a sentiment shared by the majority of black people, then what purpose is there in trying to heal the racial conflicts that tear apart the desire of people nationwide to live peacefully with all others regardless of race?

The dictionary defines enemy as one who manifests hostility toward another, a foe, an opponent. Is this the pervasive attitude that is shared by the participants of events such as the ''Million Man March'' and the ''Day of Commitment''? If it is, then this country is in worse shape than I imagined.

James Miller


Maryland districts are no gerrymander

I must take issue with Barry Rascovar's analysis of Maryland's 4th and 5th Congressional Districts in his June 30 column, ''Racial redistricting is a goner. Good riddance!'' These two Washington suburban districts have not been gerrymandered. Quite the contrary. It was the previous configuration that was gerrymandered, drawn to the perpetual advantage of white Democratic incumbents.

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