Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 29, 2005

Stronger steps needed to stop spread of sprawl

In his column "Ill effects of sprawl make long, sad tale" (April 22), Tom Horton describes Maryland's nationally known Smart Growth initiative as a "hopeful" program to use state spending and incentives to preserve open space and encourage development in and around existing communities.

He goes on to blame Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. for slashing funding for protecting lands, but fails to mention the damage the General Assembly did to the revitalization side of the equation by capping the state's rehabilitation tax credit. That's a one-two punch to Smart Growth.

Mr. Horton rightly points out that while Maryland has received accolades for its Smart Growth program, the state's "land industry" continues to subdivide and build on greenfield sites at an alarming pace. Regrettably, this has occurred under both former Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Mr. Ehrlich.

Are we better off with Maryland's Smart Growth policies than without? Yes.

But have we been successful in stopping, or even substantially slowing, the development trend known as sprawl? No.

After admirably writing about sprawl and the remedies of Smart Growth for more than 30 years, Mr. Horton ends up only advocating more of the same "hopeful" strategies.

Want to really put the brakes on sprawl? Then eliminate its biggest subsidies.

Raise the gas tax so drivers pay for highways (and their environmental costs) in the same way Amtrak riders are expected to pay for rail travel.

And limit the mortgage interest tax deduction to homes in existing communities, excluding those in sprawling new developments.

Tyler Gearhart

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Preservation Maryland.

Tax cuts revived economic growth

In "Being Alan Greenspan" (April 24), The Sun's editorial staff has again shown its lack of knowledge regarding how the U.S. economy works.

The Sun has repeatedly blamed President Bush's tax cut for the mounting U.S. budget deficits, while saying little about the out-of-control pork barrel spending by Congress.

But President Bush's timely tax cuts prevented the U.S. economy from falling deeper into its slump that began under President Bill Clinton's final months in office and was worsened by the 9/11 attacks.

It's this simple - since two-thirds of the U.S. economy is based on consumer spending, the more money that consumers have, the faster the economy grows. Period.

Indeed, to what other factors do the editors attribute to the economy's recent success? The surge in job creation and a gross domestic product that has outpaced the growth rates for most of the world's other developed nations did not happen by accident.

Our economic rebound was the result of prudent tax cuts that acted as a catalyst to fuel the economy's growth when it was needed the most.

If The Sun is looking for a real culprit for the mounting budget deficits, it should focus on the spending of taxpayer money by Congress.

Michael P. Beczkowski

Baltimore

Greenspan's policies punish most people

I want to commend The Sun for articulating the bold truth on Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's disastrous guidance during the Bush administration ("Being Alan Greenspan," editorial, April 24).

In fact, last week's announcement that Mr. Greenspan is recommending cuts to Social Security and Medicare to cut the budget deficit was like a parent announcing to his vulnerable child before a thrashing that "this is going to hurt me more than it will hurt you" ("Greenspan decries rise in debt, urges discipline," April 22).

To the contrary, it is the 95 percent of Americans who are not in the wealthiest tax bracket who will suffer the repercussions of the fiscally irresponsible behavior of Mr. Greenspan and President Bush.

Sue Garonzik

Baltimore

The sooner we cut benefits, the better

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is right. When the baby boomers retire (and I am one of them), there will not be enough federal tax revenue coming in for the government to meet projected retirement and health care expenses ("Greenspan decries rise in debt, urges discipline," April 22).

President Bush's plan to privatize Social Security is not the answer. The best solution is the one that is hardest to face: We will need to reduce the benefits of Social Security and Medicare to a level that the country can afford.

The sooner we do it, the better.

Bill Simmons

Columbia

Community colleges offer another option

Jason Song identified high school seniors who fail to gain fall acceptance at a university as having the "fall free for travel or work" ("College admission, but with a catch," April 24). But there is another option - community college.

My daughter received a deferred admission to Towson University in 1997. Her spring acceptance was contingent upon her successful completion of 12 credits at a community college.

She met that condition and was placed in the honors program at Towson because her community college grades were excellent. She graduated in four years with a Bachelor of Science degree.

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