Why not use state surplus for shock trauma? I'm certain...

LETTERS

March 05, 2000

Why not use state surplus for shock trauma?

I'm certain that all Marylanders, including myself, fully appreciate the excellent service rendered by the Shock Trauma Center.

Why, however, when the state of Maryland has the largest tax surplus in its history, would it be necessary, as recommended by The Sun, to increase the annual surcharge on motor vehicle registrations?

History tells us that once that tax is in place it will never be rescinded.

I have been a reader of The Sun for 40 years and cannot recall your editorial staff ever opposing any tax increases.

Wouldnt it be more reasonable to use the surpluses we now have on hand for any improvements needed by the shock trauma services?

Tom Grimes, West Friendship

Lott study shows the misuse of statistics

It is infuriating to read the opinions of John Lott, who has been receiving space in many of our national news forums.

The problem is not that Mr. Lott is espousing pro-gun positions; rather, it is that he is expressing those opinions as if they were based on scholarly research.

Anyone with a minimal background in research design and statistics who has actually read his work would realize that it is not legitimate.

Mr. Lott co-wrote a study entitled Crime, Deterrence and the Right to Carry Concealed Handguns.

The authors took the pre-established position that the carrying of handguns is a deterrent to violent crime. Then they assembled and massaged a series of haphazard data to support their original contentions.

Unfortunately, the authors lack the most fundamental statistical skills.

Clearly, they are not familiar with the term multi-collinearity. The problem of multi-collinearity occurs when variables are selected that may have no intrinsic relationship but in a limited circumstance may be shown to have a mathematical relationship.

Thus, for instance, it may be demonstrated that there is an apparent positive correlation between lack of rain and lower violent crime instances in the northeastern United States in 1998.

Clearly, it is possible to show correlational relationships among l kinds of variables such as these where there is no real relationship or relevance among them.

In loosely performed statistical procedures such as the Lott study, the next misstep becomes to suggest a causal relationship between the variables.

Thus, Mr. Lott has exacerbated the severe problems with spurious correlations by suggesting a causal relationship between the variables: (i.e., carrying concealed weapons is assumed to prevent violent crimes).

Even the most elementary student of statistics knows that it is a mistake to infer causation from correlation.

Russell S. Kempner, Ellicott City

Sun endorsements leave voters without guidance

The Sun certainly left most voters in a predicament concerning the presidential candidates.

Either way were supposed to choose between a person who operates out of Buddhist temples and his own office, or one who attempts to avoid mentioning Charles Keatings troubles.

The Sun may as well join the group with statements like: Trust and character are central issues in the election... The paper may want to look back at its treatment of these scams. Do a little investigative reporting instead of speaking in silly generalities.

R. D. Bush, Columbia

Open golf memberships to all in Howard County

Much has been written lately about the state of Howard Countys golf courses, most recently the article on the Columbia Associations golf courses in last Sundays Sun.

There is little doubt that Howard County is under-served, especially in terms of publicly accessible courses. This is why the proposed West Friendship golf course is necessary.

However, it is also apparent that CAs courses are losing money.

I offer what would appear to be a straightforward solution to both problems.

If CA expanded membership and full playing privileges (not just guest privileges) to all county residents, all sides would benefit.

Bill Woodcock, Ellicott City

Impression is false that golf courses lose money

The recent letter stating that another golf course is not needed in the county has several errors. The quote from the golf course study commission was taken out of context.

The complete statement of the report is nevertheless ERAs analysis suggests that an attractive, properly positioned and efficiently operated 18-hole golf facility could enjoy relatively strong market support and could generate reasonably attractive net operating income because-- and then it lists a number of reasons.

Page VI-5 of the ERA report states, only about 42 percent of potential demand is being satisfied by existing public-access golf courses within the market area. The impression that the Columbia Association-operated golf courses are losing money is false.

Don Dunn, Ellicott City

The need for news about performing arts

I am writing this note concerning your Thursday Performing Arts Page.

When this feature was added to the Howard County section of the daily Sun, there were many of us who were genuinely excited about the possibilities.

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