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Market Bull

Posted 2/6/2002

The Underwhelmed column regarding the privatization of Social Security was utterly ridiculous (Jan. 23). Does this columnist really believe that the Dow is "in the dumps" when it is currently hovering around 10,000? Everyone who invests in the stock market knows that it is not a sure thing. I personally feel terrible for the investors and shareholders of Enron, but this was a fluke. Enron is the largest bankruptcy of all time, and to cite that as a reason against privatizing Social Security does not make much sense. Those people that lost thousands or even millions of dollars last year on the dot-coms obviously were not well diversified, and diversification is the first rule of investing. And since when is an annual 6 percent to 10 percent return on an investment a bad thing? Much better than turning over your hard-earned dollars to the government and possibly (if not probably) losing it all while the government squanders it away on other programs. That is even more scandalous than the Enron debacle.

Jennifer Bonney

Let Them Eat Cakes
I'm sorry you had a bad experience with the crab cakes at Soigné, but please try them again (Dish, Jan. 30). When I had them, they were delicious--two huge cakes surrounding fried oysters. Died and went to heaven. Don't give up on them. I took one home and had it for lunch the next day, and the flavors were even better.

Christina Mitchko

One Statue, Divisible
Wiley Hall III writes that "of New York's 11,495 firefighters, less than 6 percent are black or Hispanic. There used to be more minority firefighters, but a federal desegregation order expired 20 years ago and the department quickly reverted to form" (Urban Rhythms, Jan. 23). Unwittingly, he makes the strongest case for why the notion of a statue depicting a white, a black, and a Hispanic is such a silly, muddleheaded example of political correctness. In essence, it's nothing more than distortion of historical reality, of playing fast and loose with the truth. When you include the fact that the memorial is based on the actual photograph of three white firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero, you're left with yet another well-intentioned but misguided and indefensible effort to depict diversity in an instance in which there clearly is none. Indeed, if the memorial came to fruition as a multiethnic depiction of a fire department that remains largely white, it would serve to hinder efforts by African-Americans and Hispanics to break through the barrier of white exclusivity.

Craig Taylor
Alexandria, Va.

More "Street" Talk
It was with great interest that I read your cover story "Street Wise" ( Jan. 9). I recently moved to Baltimore and knew very little about the city overall. I have observed, in my short time here, the city's problems of seemingly thousands of boarded-up homes, drug addiction, crime, dirty streets, and aggressive drivers. Having lived in New York and Washington, I am no stranger to these problems and was curious as to what Baltimore has been doing to solve its social and economic woes. That Kevin Brooks and his wife, Tamra, should choose to live in B'more with their children because they strongly believe "we're walking our talk" was an encouraging and hopeful story. Such commitment and perseverance on their part should inspire us all to work together to improve Baltimore. If NYC and D.C. are doing it, why not B'more? Perhaps the fault lies somewhere in city government.

The article told of how Brooks and his family were seemingly alone in their fight to drive out the criminal element from their block. City agencies that should have been providing support and cooperation had apparently come to think of the "crime, prostitution, and dope" as intransigent urban ills. As Tamra Brooks eloquently put it, however, "Sometimes you have to create a different paradigm."

A paradigm shift requires not just families like the Brookses but the entire community working together. One family may find the odds overwhelming, but 50 or 60 families can create a synergistic force to overcome the challenges and difficulties associated with improving the quality of life in the city. As much as it can do, however, the community needs the collaboration of city government. The housing, social-services, and law-enforcement agencies (just to name a few) should work more closely with local communities, as well as business organizations, to implement solutions. For the new year, that would be a worthwhile resolution.

Carolyn Mohan

In response to your Jan. 9 feature article: When I left the 2500 block of Madison Avenue, in July 1987, it was at its peak of owner-occupancy. After a five-and-a-half-year-long battle pitting homeowner against low-income renter, most of the boozers, prostitutes, stray dogs, hoodlums, and infant manufacturers had been pushed aside to make way for historic-minded, white-collar individuals, like myself, who actually gave a damn about Baltimore City (Mayor Schaefer-era) and the notion of restoring a once well-respected community of three-story rowhouses.

In the succeeding years, I would occasionally reflect about those five and a half years of my life I spent struggling, with countless others, to regain Madison Avenue's sense of community.

Now, years later, I drive down Madison Avenue looking for signs of that thriving restoration effort I was once part of two decades ago. Today, I see numerous burned-out shells of rowhouses left to decay, litter in the street and tree pits, boarded-up rowhouse doors and windows with graffiti "art" decorating the plywood, and collapsed or missing marble stoops.

Amazingly enough, the one thing that hasn't changed after all these years is that the cheap red cloth I hung over the 10-foot-tall parlor windows is still hanging. Amazing!

Jay Rubin

Morning in America
Tom Tomorrow presents a pretty skewed view of the '80s that misses much of what really happened (This Modern World, Jan. 16).

In 1980, the Soviet Union was ensconced in Eastern Europe and Afghanistan while Cuba (yes, Cuba) was involved in Angola, Grenada, Nicaragua, and El Salvador. Iran was holding Americans hostage and President Carter could not come up with eight functioning military helicopters to rescue them. Domestically, the economy was in a recession, unemployment was at 7.8 percent, inflation at 13.5 percent, and mortgages at 13.7 percent.

Fast forward to 1989: Russia was out of Eastern Europe and Afghanistan while the Cubans were back in Cuba. Here, the economy was experiencing its longest postwar economic expansion with unemployment at 5.2 percent, inflation 3.2 percent, and mortgages 10 percent.

As to the hairstyles, I will defer to Tom and assume that is his real area of expertise.

Art Andreassen
What a pathetic, horrible sellout. I would have expected more from you. I'm talking about your pop-up ads when I tried to log in to the City Paper site. I had to close my browser (losing the previous pages I was working on) and start over. It's like trying to walk through a door and being physically blocked by an obnoxious, offensive oaf who knocks all of your papers on the floor!

Gary Bowers

Online editor Tim Hill responds: Our national advertising service surprised us with the pop-ups as well. The offending campaign is over, thankfully.

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