Credo Misses the Mark

Mark Steckbeck's first letter ["Activists' Extreme Position," Dec. 9] set forth the libertarian credo: voting by wallet, good; voting by ballot, bad. It criticized the election of smart growth candidates to the Board of Supervisors. And it labeled civic activists (but not paid lobbyists or business PACs) as extremists and usurpers when seeking to influence voters.

His second letter ["Let the Community Decide," Dec. 23] steps back somewhat from Steckbeck I. For one thing, Steckbeck II no longer rails against civic activists, possibly because the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association (NVBIA) recently urged the public to support developers at government hearings--see "Hitting the Nail on the Head," Letters, Dec. 12. For another, II concentrates on only one of the many aspects of smart growth--preserving open space. Always distrustful of representative government, Mr. Steckbeck apparently wants a plebiscite before the county purchases any land for open space.

The newly elected Board of Supervisors, not civic activists or industry associations, will determine whether and what land to purchase. Presumably the primary criteria will be the net return in taxes that open space or agricultural use will bring to the county as against other proposed developmental uses such as residential construction. Oddly, Mr. Steckbeck has never proposed a plebiscite on costly (to Loudoun residents) rezonings by past boards, such as those approving construction of thousands of houses at Brambleton and Kirkpatrick.

Nor does one hear a Steckbeckian peep for Loudoun's property owners, other than for land speculators and developers, many of whom live outside the county. Thus, land throughout the county must be impressed with taxes to pay for infrastructure costs caused by the relatively few. The quiet enjoyment of land everywhere must give way to whatever uses developers can invent for neighboring lands. Centuries of forbearance must give way to the moment's greed.

The rationales for not regulating development are legion; they include laissez faire, survival of the fittest, trickle-down, supply side and most recently, libertarianism. Running for political office as a libertarian has not been rewarding. But business has been quick to incorporate libertarian ideas as part of its panoply of defenses against regulation--witness the NVBIA's endorsement of Steckbeck I.

According to Mr. Steckbeck, "decisions that could be made in the market thus should be." Goods can be manufactured and bought bereft of child labor laws, workplace safety laws, collective bargaining, securities regulations, food and drug review, the Federal Reserve, antitrust, environmental laws, zoning, etc., but does anyone, other than a libertarian, want to go back to the untrammeled ways existing in Russia that once existed here?

Let's not kill the geese that lay golden eggs, but also, let's not turn those geese into sacred cows. Ask any Hindu, sacred cows can really make messes. Libertarianism is an invitation to the kind of immobility that breeds sacred cows.

Toward its end, Steckbeck II drops names whose relevance to the advent of libertarianism and/or zoning is unclear. James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and George Mason made major contributions toward establishing the federal government but lived more than a century before the advent of libertarianism or zoning. James Buchanan received his Nobel Prize in econometrics, not for any eccentric beliefs about market forces. Steckbeck II concludes that the onus is on him who would label libertarianism naive. This is probably fair; libertarianism needs all the help it can muster.



The Spirit of Giving Lives

A virtual "army" in this community worked and gave to make it a happier Christmas for those less fortunate. They gave either their time or their money.

Over 492 volunteers served 738 hours to ring bells at Christmas kettles. Funds raised through the kettles become part of the budget here at the Salvation Army of Loudoun County for Christmas and the whole year for emergency services.

Others volunteered their time to adopt an "angel" and shopped for a child or a senior or sat at a table in the mall to receive donated gifts. Even more filled stockings and dressed bears which we distributed with Angel Tree gifts at the Salvation Army Toy Shop in Leesburg. Still more volunteered at the Toy Shop.

This past fall we notified Loudoun County citizens through the media and the mail that we are no longer receiving any funds from the divisional headquarters in Washington, D.C. The support of the work done for others has been overwhelming.

To all of you who helped and continue to help, I say a heartfelt "thank you." May God bless you for your generosity in this new millennium.


Commanding Officer

Salvation Army,

Loudoun County

Accessories to a Crime

I have lived in the same home in Loudoun County since July 1978 and have read the weekly crime report for as many years. The number of reported crimes has increased proportionately with population, but the crimes remain the same, primarily the theft of auto accessories. It occurs to me that this subculture of criminal activity persists despite the increase of police surveillance and presence. Could it be that these crimes are so frequent and the insurance companies compensate victims so promptly that it has little or no priority? One must consider the victims of these offenses, usually hard-working teenagers who spend a lot of effort to make their autos just a little different and appealing to their peers. Seems as soon as you get it right, poof, it's gone.

Years back, my teenage son had spent some $3,000 outfitting a Bronco I had given him for graduation. It was the family vacation vehicle used to create a lifetime of memories, but it was perfect for a young teenager just starting off--dependable and safe, definitely not a speed mobile. Well, my son and his friends put many hours into customizing the inside with audio equipment as most teens do today, and no more than a week after completing many hours of labor and spending hard-earned dollars the entire system was ripped off in front of our house. Neighbors neither saw nor heard anything. Being properly insured, we recovered the monetary value of the stolen system, but to recover the respect and achievement of the accomplishment was to never happen, not a money issue but a moral issue. If only perpetrators would consider the ramifications of their deeds, maybe this would stop--but apparently this is not the case and seemingly never will be. The theft and vandalism are rampant, and my only question is where are the parents of these teens on the other side of the fence, the ones stealing and destroying dreams and effort? No amount of police presence will ever prevent these usually insoluble crimes, only proper parenting and care.




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