New regulations needed to revive trust in markets David...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 09, 2002

New regulations needed to revive trust in markets

David H. Feldman makes an important observation: A functioning market system depends on trust. And trust is a resource on which everyone relies but for which no one is singularly responsible ("Continuing scandal, loss of confidence," June 30).

To change our system, we must change the incentives. We could make auditors federal officials, as we do air traffic controllers, to guarantee their independence. A less controversial remedy could come from creating a business-financed fund from which all auditors would be paid. This would ensure examiners would receive no compensation from the companies they review.

These ideas sound radical only because Americans have increasingly abandoned the concept of protecting the social and economic commons. Even the mildest efforts to protect the common good are viewed with suspicion.

But the visible economy is connected to a hidden economy of trust. The longer we take to restore the trust economy, the more the markets - and the other parts of the visible economy that depend on them - will deteriorate.

Craig Cheslog

Oakland, Calif.

The writer is director of communications for Redefining Progress, a nonprofit group that studies economic and environmental sustainability issues.

David H. Feldman explained very well the extent to which trust in U.S. financial markets is threatened by the parade of recent scandals.

Not only must investors cast a doubtful eye on the accuracy of financial statements, we must also be watchful for potentially drastic conflicts of interest in our trading markets and remain alert to possible government and industry collusion on public policy.

New appreciation for stiffer and more forceful regulation may help, and some campaign finance reform may be better than none; however, citizen-shareholders bear responsibility to express more loudly their demand for ethical leadership.

The alternative would be, as Mr. Feldman predicts, a long-lasting and damaging loss of faith - in both industry and government.

Mark E. Klotzbach

Baltimore

Time to move ahead with visitors center

The Sun's editorial concerning a new visitors center downtown couldn't have been more off the mark (" ... . not another ice cream stand," June 17). If, for aesthetic purposes only, we were to build a new center and replace the current one, we would be doing something positive for downtown. The current trailer parked between the Science Center and the Light Street Pavilion is unattractive and third-rate.

The new visitors center at the harbor would serve the majority of the visitors to the city, add an attractive facility to the Inner Harbor, eliminate one or more trailers and create additional open space.

Camden Station is a beautiful building, but most visitors to it are going into and out of Camden Yards.

The city and the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association are only now in a hurry to build a new center. It has been in development for six years. Let's get it built and get rid of the eyesores in the Inner Harbor.

Donald P. Hutchinson

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Harborplace remains a waterfront treasure

I remember like it was yesterday the hot July afternoon when Harborplace opened and the images on the news that night of James Rouse and then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer having a love-fest of mutual congratulation for this wonderful new piece of the downtown puzzle.

Twenty-two years later, Harborplace is as vibrant and alive as it was in 1980. The Power Plant vacancy that once seemed to be its albatross has been turned into a teeming cornerstone thanks to ESPN Zone, Barnes & Noble and the Hard Rock Cafe.

To complain about a lack of local businesses in this bustling monument to the rebirth of our waterfront is to look a gift horse in the mouth ("Chains dilute local flavor of Harborplace," July 1).

Tom Buck

Carney

Faith doesn't require public proclamation

I don't understand people who are so insecure in their religious faith that they feel the need to have public evidence of it by printing it on money, reciting it at government functions and forcing young children of other faiths or no faith to listen to their government-enforced prayer each morning.

The recent court ruling did not call the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional. It only rejected the added phrase "under God" when the pledge is spoken as an official part of the public school day.

In other non-government-funded settings, you can say the pledge however you please.

Carl Aron

Baltimore

Steele's view of gays shows little tolerance

So this is the type of forward thinking Marylanders will be subjected to if Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich's running mate, Michael Steele, becomes lieutenant governor: Mr. Steele, when asked his views on gay rights, replied: "There's a lot of rights that already protect white gay men" ("Ehrlich declares `opportunity ticket' with party chief," July 2).

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