Dan Rodricks' advice that "complaining CEOs need to take a hike" (May 9) comes a bit late. For the first time anyone can recall, this year's Fortune 500 includes zero Baltimore-based companies. We are now the largest U.S. city without a single corporate headquarters, and there are only four left in the state — down from 11 as recently as 2007.

Clearly, those who decide where to create local job opportunities (and, let's not forget, lead many philanthropic efforts) have been taking a hike for many years, just as over 300,000 Baltimore residents voted with their feet over the decades and fled the city's high property taxes, incredible shrinking economy and dismal provision of public services.

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Yet Mr. Rodricks merely dismisses the area's business-climate problem by trotting out a few irrelevant factoids. The state government's AAA bond rating, for example, reflects nothing more than our elected leaders' willingness to tax us, and their ability to do so in a one-party state. He then stereotypes CEOs as whiny, overpaid and shortsighted. Worst of all, "these people" are … golfers. (Careful there, Dan – you might think it's OK to make uncharitable generalizations about groups that are predominantly rich, white, and male, but that golfer crack snagged our President Barack Obama in the net.)

Those who are serious-minded about creating a healthier local economy must be attentive to issues of taxation and regulation. Government fiscal crises at the local and state levels, chronic poverty in our city, and stagnant job creation statewide cry out for stronger economic growth built on a good business climate. Dismissing all CEOs as "tiresome" and not worth listening to might reinforce one's sense of moral superiority, but it's no way to make progress on this crucial policy problem.

Steve Walters, Baltimore

The writer is a professor of economics at Loyola University Maryland.

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