The Baltimore Sun

High-tech projects provide real stimulus

I can't disagree with Lawrence J. Korb and Matthew Merighi's suggestions about the need for defense spending on personnel, construction and basic needs such as trucks and Humvees - those programs are all critical ("Defense spending as stimulus," Commentary, Feb. 8). But their simplistic characterization of the Air Force's F-22 and other revolutionary and state-of-the-art high-tech weapons projects as "unnecessary" misses the big picture.

This country fell for the same sort of shortsighted thinking at the end of World War I, and it left us with our pants down, dependent on dilapidated, obsolete technology the day the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor.

We have all heard for decades how the technological advances created by NASA and our space program in the 1960s and 1970s touched all our lives for decades to come and shaped the technological world we live in today.

But NASA struggled then, and now, against the same sort of blind calls for budget-slashing we're now hearing against our defense contractors from people like the authors of this column.

On the financial side, every one of the hundreds of thousands of workers employed in high-tech weapons projects across the country is, in effect, receiving funds from a "stimulus package" that touches all corners of what's left of this economy - the real economy of building things, not the useless, house-of-cards economy of the stock market.

Their salaries not only feed the local economies of the areas where these workers live but also, thanks to the Internet and online retailing, are spread far and wide across this country.

Jeff Stennett, Gambrills

The writer is a quality assurance engineer at Northrup Grumman.

Wasteful weapons the wrong spending

The column by Lawrence J. Korb and Matthew Merighi was a very good discussion of the use of defense spending as an economic stimulus ("Defense spending as stimulus," Commentary, Feb. 8).

It certainly makes sense that continuing the unnecessary and expensive F-22 program is the wrong way to do this. But the authors' discussion of how we can address real military needs in a way that would contribute to economic recovery helps show us the right way.

I hope the government will respond favorably to their ideas.

John Stuelpnagel, Baltimore

Morgan took the lead in homeless census

I was disappointed with The Baltimore Sun's coverage of the Baltimore census study of homeless individuals ("Students, experts begin count of city's homeless," Jan. 22).

Reporter Gus G. Sentementes slanted the article to give the Johns Hopkins University a more visible role than the actual lead university in the survey, which was Morgan State University and its School of Architecture and Planning.

Morgan is the primary research institution for the entire census study. It is responsible for the GPS monitoring, census field work, environmental assessment, data analysis and reporting for all the census activities of Jan. 22.

Indeed, on the night of the census count, from 1 a.m. until 7 a.m., the project had at least 30 courageous Morgan students walking the streets in below-freezing weather, along with some students from Loyola College, outreach workers and other volunteers, to count the unsheltered homeless.

While we acknowledge Johns Hopkins' contribution to the project, the fact remains that Morgan State is the lead institution in the homeless census for the city of Baltimore.

Regrettably, The Baltimore Sun's articles misled its readers and, in this case, did not give credit where credit is due.

Mary Anne Alabanza Akers, Baltimore

The writer is dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University and project director for the homeless census.

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