The Baltimore Sun

Let market determine value of open space

In his column "Redefining property rights" (Commentary, Oct. 17), Roy Gothie wastes no time getting to his agenda, claiming that "any property rights a landowner possesses exist mainly to serve the greater public good."

Let's put aside that property rights actually exist because citizens enter into a free society created by the people to pursue their own ends as long as they don't interfere with others.

Let's ignore that this free American economy - based on property rights - has provided people the peace of mind to invest and grow their society to far greater lengths than any other in history.

Finally, let's ignore the assumption - taken for granted in this article - that government can solve environmental problems better than a free market.

Instead, let's focus on Mr. Gothie's more revealing statement: "Can the present value of a 40-acre wetland that filters our water ... be adequately calculated by economists?"

He says no, arguing that such natural wonders are morally superior to commercial enterprises such as town centers and farming.

I say that he is wrong.

The value of competing uses for land - and everything else - is determined in a free market with every price that emerges.

If Mr. Gothie's preferences were those of the majority, more money would be committed to the alternative uses of land he prefers through private preservation movements.

Since this is not the case, more people clearly value using these lands and resources in other ways.

Tim Stonesifer, Westminster

Irresponsibility helps create financial crisis

After reading Susan Reimer's column "It's not my fault that I'm to blame for all this" (Oct. 20), I understand why so few of my students accept personal responsibility for their behavior or academic achievement, since clearly some of their parents don't accept responsibility for their financial behavior.

I am also still waiting for economists to explain how a nation that consumes more than it produces, and exports more dollars than it earns, can be considered a healthy one.

This entire financial mess would be funny if it weren't so pathetic - and so entirely avoidable.

Linda K. Brown, Baltimore

Asian oysters just don't have the flavor

After reading recent articles concerning efforts to revive the Chesapeake Bay's native oyster rather than introducing Asian oysters to the estuary, I strongly urge that the Asian oyster not be introduced ("Groups support bid to revive native bay oysters," Oct. 15).

While the Asian oyster apparently grows quickly and is immune to the diseases that are wiping out our native Chesapeake oyster, it has other disadvantages.

Those risks include its possible vulnerability to predators as well and to low levels of oxygen (which are a problem in the bay) and the chance that the Asian oysters could introduce yet another shellfish disease to the bay.

In addition, the Asian oyster is suspected of being capable of taking over the habitat of the native bay oyster to the point of eradicating the native species in local waters.

Now for the real clincher: the taste.

My wife and I have various oyster-loving friends and acquaintances who have been served Asian oysters at several restaurants throughout Anne Arundel Country.

They have all agreed that the taste of the Asian oyster is nowhere near as good as the taste of our native bay oyster.

In fact, they have described its taste as unpleasant and were extremely disappointed that their (previously) favorite seafood restaurants were serving the Asian oyster.

Pete Mager, Annapolis

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