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).
But it is widely believed that there was an ancient form of the instrument, known in Ireland as well as Scotland. Chaucer mentions bagpipes in The Canterbury Tales. That places bagpipes in the British Isles during the 1300s-unless you want to allege that the Highland Society of London revised Chaucer too?
Chris Jones Waxhaw, NC
Jesse Walker responds: My article was specifically and explicitly about the Great Highland Bagpipe, an iconically Scottish device, and not the larger bagpipe family of instruments, which is not only much older but originated far away from the British Isles.
The Birth of the Nuppie
I enjoyed Greg Beato's "The Birth of the Nuppie" ( June), but I must object to the use of the word nuppie. As a so-called nomadic urban professional, I do not think the term is accurate.
The problem word is nomadic. We do not travel as a tribe like nomads. We move individually. Unlike nomads, we have fixed addresses, so Netflix can find us. Most important, our movements are not aimless. If they were, 2 million 28-year-olds would have wound up in North Platte, Nebraska, for no reason, which would be awesome but has never happened.
I also dislike the mental image summoned by the term. A nuppie does not sound like a hardworking individual. He sounds like a freshwater fish that lives in an upscale aquarium and quotes The Economist: "Ashley, come away from the castle so I can tell you what Paul Krugman wrote about wage inequality." (In my mind, both fish are dressed as if they're about to play tennis.)
As a professional who moved to Los Angeles by way of Washington and Cleveland, I would like something more accurate and more awesome, something like-and I have given this a lot of thought-mobile business labor commandos, or moblacoms.
What would you rather be called? A nuppie or a moblacom? Can we get Beato on this? Let's make this happen, reason.
Joe Donatelli Los Angeles, CA
Fresh From the Farm
As a market gardener who sells at five farmers' markets a week, I appreciated your bringing Joel Salatin to the pages of reason ("Fresh From the Farm," June).
My wife and I started in a 30-square-foot garden plot in a trailer park 10 years ago. Since then we have moved to five acres of an old hay field and converted it to our own specialty greens, cut flower, and heirloom vegetable Field of Dreams. Joel Salatin encourages more Americans to likewise pursue their bliss, be it in farming, home baking, home crafting, custom woodworking, or wherever their talents lie. Moreover, he is a vocal opponent of so-called health, safety, and environmental regulations that tilt the playing field in the favor of large corporate interests and against would-be entrepreneurs.
In his book Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, Salatin describes how small, independent businesses born in kitchens, garages, and backyards are the very spirit of American enterprise and the source of great novelty, diversity, and innovation. I hope reason will expand its coverage of the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in farmers' markets nationwide. While many criticize our nation's New Deal-era farm policy, my wife and I join with Joel Salatin and thousands of others in offering an alternative: a more environmentally friendly, market-based, and regional food network.
J. Kopczak Wood Road Salad Farm Madison, OH