Quality of schools is just one factor in neighborhood choice
We wish to respond to The Sun's article "Study argues health of city" (Dec. 5).
Our work examined only households that decided to remain in or move into one of our 10 case-study neighborhoods between 1980 and 2000. It did not investigate households that might have considered moving to these neighborhoods but were deterred by such factors as poorly performing schools or crime in Baltimore.
But the fact that nine of our 10 case-study neighborhoods lost households with children suggests that schools matter. However, school quality was only one of six characteristics we examined in this study of neighborhood choice. And we found that, in some neighborhoods, characteristics other than school quality seem to be driving neighborhood choice.
This seems to be the case in Belair-Edison, a neighborhood with a below-average school that has attracted households with children in the last two decades. Conversely, Bolton Hill, with a high-performing school, is not drawing such households.
A key point of our study is that household dynamics may more adequately portray the overall health of the city than raw population numbers. Neighborhoods such as Seton Hill, New Northwood, Hampden and Canton are finding new life by attracting non-elderly, childless households.
In fact, nine of our 10 neighborhoods are attracting these households, while the city as a whole is losing them.
The writers are students at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies.
Social Security reform should raise red flags
The proposal for some Social Security funds to be invested in stocks raises some red flags ("Social Security reform on hold,"Dec. 11).
If there were a large influx of those funds into the market, it could inflate the prices of some stocks to unrealistic heights.
And some entrepreneurs are probably already sharpening their claws to hook the naive investor.
Putting rank amateurs on the same playing field with professional investors seems like having a Super Bowl game between a high school team and the Ravens.
M-` but investing its funds could bring happy returns
The Sun's article "Social Security reform on hold" (Dec. 11) quotes critics of reform who say this yearM-vs stock market drop shows personal retirement accounts are risky. But when examining stock market risk one needs to look at the long-run returns of the market. While the market may go up in some years and down in others, over the long run the market always trends upward.
A recent report demonstrates that, for any 35-year period over the last 128 years, the market has returned an average annual rate of 6.4 percent.
Under the three plans developed by President Bush's Social Security reform commission, a retiree could still earn a pension equal to the benefit promised under current law if his or her account earned 2 to 3.5 percent a year.
Thus, most retirees would actually earn a benefit greater than the one promised under current law. That's not risky.
The writer is an analyst at the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Catholic chapels deserve help from the Archdiocese
I was extremely disheartened to read the comments of Cardinal William Keeler's representative, Raymond Kempisty, at meetings with parishioners of Holy Redeemer and St. Gerard chapels ("2 Catholic chapels to close," Dec. 13).
Mr. Kempisty indicated that the chapels would be closed even if the parishioners were able to find a priest to celebrate mass, since that alone does not constitute a parish. But these congregations have created parishes in the truest sense of the wor
Their common belief is that their churches should remain the center of their communities and their lives. They back this belief with their time and whatever they can afford from their pension checks.
Surely, the same Archdiocese that raised millions to renovate the basilica can find a priest to dedicate two hours a week to celebrate mass for individuals who have contributed so much to their church and to their communities.
Donna Amrhein Lowman
Townsend again neglects the duties of her office
Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend has again demonstrated her lack of leadership and fiscal responsibility ("$400,000 in state investment income lost from accounting woes, audit says," Dec 14).
Ms. Townsend should spend more time overseeing her duties and less time fund-raising. Wake up, Maryland: We have a problem, and electing Ms. Townsend governor is not the solution.
Jackie Owens Harris
Detentions, domestic calm appear to be unrelated
Thomas Sowell writes: "Does it occur to those who are making so much noise about the detention of suspected terrorists that the fact that there has been no follow-up terrorism to compare with that perpetrated on Sept. 11 may have something to do with the fact that so many terrorist suspects are behind bars?" ("Snipers forget right to survive tops all others," Opinion*Commentary, Dec. 10)