Letters to the editor:
The War on Renters
Paul Thornton's "The War on Renters" ( July) ignores four key points:
1) When families lose their homes to foreclosure, they return to the rental market, which increases demand, drives up rents, and eats into the saving capacity of current renters.
2) Foreclosures aren't limited to single-family residences. They're also hitting multi-family rental properties, which reduces the supply of rental housing, again driving up rents-not to mention punishing occupants who were never themselves guilty of bad borrowing.
3) A wave of foreclosures predicated on risky lending leads to an overreaction in which even creditworthy borrowers may find it difficult to obtain credit.
4) While a market correction is undoubtedly necessary-it's already occurring-a rapid wave of foreclosures that results in abandoned properties leads to higher costs for everyone through crime, arson, and safety hazards. At the end of the article, Thornton seems to fall victim to the same idea pushing the presidential candidates to halt foreclosures: that it's better to be a homeowner than a renter. Renters report higher rates of personal happiness, better sex lives, and lower unemployment (they're free to move to where the jobs are).
Perhaps Washington's problem isn't its belated response to the foreclosure crisis now but the absurd emphasis it placed on homeownership earlier this decade.
Sarah Christopherson Washington, DC
In "Classical Gasbags" ( July), Tim Cavanaugh missed one of the most interesting and potentially far-reaching developments in classical music: The ubiquity of broadband now allows anyone, anywhere to tune in to classical music stations all around the globe in stereo and even five-channel fidelity. I follow and listen to high-quality offerings from 44 stations, almost half of which have their own in-house orchestra or orchestras. Each station offers at least one recorded or live concert per day, often including works of living composers from that country. The wide variety of music available from this source puts to shame the staid, music-museum programming of most orchestras, although it is still nice to be able to hear live instruments in a beautiful hall.
From my position in the audience and on the endowment board of a local orchestra, I have attempted to sway the programmers to include greater variety and some contemporary (tonal) composers, but my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The existing financial/musical model is "working," and nobody wants to mess with it even as the attendees grow older and the competition for patron and foundation dollars intensifies.
Dave Kloepper Los Alamos, NM
Hear! Hear the Pipes Are Calling
The Highland bagpipe was certainly standardized by the British in the 1800s. Thus the current instrument is not the same as the ancient. I think that's what Hugh Cheape is saying in the book Jesse Walker describes ("Hear! Hear the Pipes Are Calling," July).