Shoddy AdviceA decade ago, when the savings...


Shoddy Advice

A decade ago, when the savings and loans were laying the groundwork for the disasters that later overtook them, one of the most powerful influences in the shocking transfer of money from sound institutions to shoddy ones was unquestionably the ill-considered -- if indeed it was considered at all -- advice of consumer advocates.

If there were two savings institutions side by side, one paying the highest rate compatible with prudent investment of its funds and the other paying a higher rate that could only be derived from bad loans and variations of Ponzi schemes, consumer advocates unfailingly advised the saver to put his or her money in the shaky, high-paying institution.

I can recall no warning from these people about the inadequacy of the resources of the Maryland Savings Share Insurance Corporation; if my memory is at fault, I shall be glad to hear it.

Later, when the shaky institutions inevitably became insolvent, the consequent disaster and drain upon the taxpayer could be very conveniently blamed on the Reagan-Bush administrations and the me-first attitudes of the Eighties, when it could more properly have been blamed on the consumerists who had acted as missionaries and shills for the corrupt institutions.

Not content with having wrecked the savings and loan industry, the advocates are now turning their guns on the banks, urging that all bank accounts should be made identical, so that savers could exercise the same delightful privilege with the banks as earlier with the savings and loans and move funds out of the bank that prudently charges enough to cover its cost into another that relies on sharp practices to keep its rates artificially low.

Who, I wonder, will consumer advocates blame this time in order to deflect responsibility from themselves when one of the shady banks into which they have irresponsibly steered money goes broke? Considering the disastrous consequences of their last foray into investment advising, their behavior is inexcusable.

We are all attracted by low prices, of course; but people with adult minds know that those apparently low prices are a delusion, like the high rates at Old Court S&L.; To switch funds into a cheaper institution without any clear understanding of whether that cheapness is achieved by indefensible lending and investment policies endangers one's own money and the money of other taxpayers.

Robert L. Taylor


In Real World, BWI Privatization Won't Work

I am responding to Maryland Del. Jim Rosapepe's article on privatization (The Sun, June 2). Mr. Rosapepe focuses in on Baltimore-Washington International Airport, but his comments provide a less than clear and total picture.

He begins by stating Maryland taxpayers have invested more than $170 million in BWI since 1972. He overlooks how that investment in BWI is returned to the citizens of Maryland. It generates over $2.5 billion in economic benefit to the state and directly accounts for about 10,000 jobs. Another 38,000 jobs are generated statewide. That is a good return on investment.

Next, Mr. Rosapepe states privatization would improve air service for Marylanders by taking BWI out from under "federal red tape" so it could charge competitive rates for runway use (landing fees), and so forth.

He suggests that under private management/lease/ownership, BWI would not utilize federal grants to assist in building runways, ramps and for noise abatement.

This being the case, the private firm could set landing fees at different rates for peak and non-peak periods without federal intervention and still be competitive with federally assisted airports.

This assumes the pricing scheme would also pass legal muster. The theory is that by doing so, peak traffic would be spread out and fewer facilities would be needed. There are several significant fallacies to this theory.

Without the 75 percent federal share for these projects, the airlines, which pay the state back for the other 25 percent of the project costs through landing fees, would have to cover the 75 percent federal share.

The result: higher landing fees and potentially less air service.

Nor does Mr. Rosapepe take into consideration the long-term agreements under which many of the airlines operate at BWI, which ensure full recovery of the airport's runway and associated expenses.

The agreements establish the rates and fee structure. He seems to think the airlines would be willing to scrap these for the privilege of paying higher fees -- in an industry that has lost $10 billion in the last three years.

Then there is the question of peak versus off-peak landing fees.

The assumption is lower fees for off-peak periods, or conversely, higher fees during peaks, would induce some airlines to move to off-peak times, thereby resulting in lower ticket prices -- thus encouraging people to fly off-peak.

Again, theory overlooks the real world.

The airlines operate at certain times of day, or peaks, because these are the times people want to travel. The majority of people travel to be at a specific place at a specific time, be it for business or pleasure. Given a choice, few would select a 5:30 a.m. departure.

Differential landing fees were proposed for Boston Logan's Airport several years ago. That plan was held to be discriminatory against certain aviation users by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Just recently, Logan proposed a new peak pricing arrangement. According to the Boston Globe (May 27), the commuter airlines, which would bear the heaviest burden of the proposed pricing scheme, as well as a number of economic development groups, are up in arms over the potential negative impact of the proposal.

Mr. Rosapepe condemns a Peat Marwick analysis of privatization at BWI because it assumes the existing capital development program would be implemented.

This was done to assure the same basis was used to compare current financial costs with those of private operation. One could assume any level of development cost. The important point is that the same base is used for all options. Otherwise, the analysis would be invalid.

In summary, Mr. Rosapepe has failed to focus on the "real world" relative to his proposals to privatize BWI.

H. Joseph Edwards


The writer is executive director of BWI Development Council Inc.

Timing It

Discrimination? I don't think so.

No one who goes into Denny's gets waited on in less than 20 minutes.

After one or two times, one learns the lesson and just doesn't return.

Ilene Kayne


U.S. Violence

This is in response to Yumiko Shimatsu's June 4 op-ed column, "Trick or Treat."

I agree that American laws have set a framework for a violent social order to exist. I also believe that changes in American attitudes and law are in order if we are to bring security back to many homes and workplaces which is not contingent upon gun ownership.

But not all Americans respond to altercations with violence, and not all of America's abundance is rooted in violence. I'd like to remind Yumiko Shimatsu that she is a beneficiary of the finest higher education system in the world.

And that perhaps the next time she points to the bad in America, maybe an acknowledgment of the good, too, would indeed help U.S.-Japan relations.

Christie Dumler

Ellicott City

It Ain't Betty

In your interesting causerie, "Ain't Ain't Good English, Is It?" (editorial, May 30), the writer says that a newly published dictionary contends the forbidden "ain't" should no longer be considered substandard English, and agrees.

Although I am an anti-ain't man myself, my favorite comment, though it is wince-inducing, on the use of "ain't" is made in the unabridged Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1961). Strongly pro-ain't in sentiment, the editors make this startling statement and howls of outrage are still being heard over 30 years later: "Ain't is used orally in most parts of the United States by many cultivated speakers."

Most parts of the U.S.? Cultivated speakers? That dictum is enough to give anti-ain't people the shivers and shakes.

The last time I heard a cultivated speaker use "ain't" was in the year 1935. A professor of English, during his talks, would quietly throw in an unexpected and forbidden "ain't" from time to time as a shrewd device for snapping back to attention any drowsy or lymphatic listeners in his audience.

As one unknown observer, possibly an anti-ain't activist, has put it: " 'Ain't' is as permissible as saying, 'Hi, Betty!' to Queen Elizabeth."

Wells Mears


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