Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Planning pitfalls...

After praising them yesterday, I’m afraid I’m going to say some things members of the new Coalition for Columbia’s Downtown aren’t going to like. First, the good:

“There’s nothing for low-income housing” in the county’s plan for redeveloping downtown Columbia, said Alan Klein, head of the newly formed Coalition for Columbia’s Downtown.

…The Department of Planning and Zoning proposed setting aside 10 percent of units for moderate-income housing and 5 percent for middle-income units, according to the draft plan. Klein said that accounts for those making $50,000 to $100,000 a year and overlooks those who make less.

The group proposed setting aside at least 20 percent of all units for moderate- and low-income housing.

“We simply will not accept the fact that its impossible to have low-income housing in Columbia,” said Del. Liz Bobo, D-District 12B, who spoke at the group’s gathering Monday in Columbia.

Yes, yes, yes. It is not impossible to have housing for those making less than $50,000 a year. In fact, it is essential, despite despicable characterizations to the contrary.

The idea of a jobs-housing balance is one that has gained considerable steam over the past couple years, and it calls for, essentially, a housing stock that is tailored to the income profile of our workforce.

Philosophicaly, the foundation of the concept is that everyone should be able to live near where they work. Pragmatically, reducing the distance between home and work offers many benefits for residents and the community at large – namely, lower traffic volume, increased viability of local transit, decreased pollution, more quality time with families, stronger civic connections, and more.

So, we pretty much agree that affordable housing is a desireable in downtown Columbia. But here’s where we part ways: “The group also advocates fewer residential units to be built downtown — 1,600 rather than the planned 5,500…”

No, no, no. If affordable housing is really such an overriding concern, calling for a 780-unit reduction in the potential number of affordable units doesn’t seem like the best decision. Under their ideal scenario, Town Center would produce over the course of 30 years 320 affordable units, less than 11 each year. Which hardly seems worth it considering the county is faced with an almost 30,000 unit shortage of affordable housing.

I’m not suggesting that Town Center is the panacea for our affordable housing situation, but it is an area with significant development potential where real progress could be made -- and not just on affordable housing, but on many of our other deficiencies (lack of decent transit, cultural amenities, small businesses, etc.).

Because of the vast potential we have in Town Center, I’m hesitant to support proposals that tie its legs before it's had a chance to get out of the gate.

Rather than focus on the numbers -- which as I clumsily said in the past are just abstractions at this point -- we should focus on the equation for the numbers.

Trying to plan in detail the next 30 years of development for Town Center is full of pitfalls, not to mention the fact that such an exercise completely devalues the preferences of future Columbians. Instead of deciding on every last detail now, we should focus on the short term specifics and keep the long term discussion focused on guiding principles.

The real-world manifestation of this idea is to create a visionary, overarching 30-year plan and develop a series of shorter-term, detailed oriented plans with, say, five- or ten-year time frames to implement this vision.

These shorter plans can house our limits, or, in my preferred scenario, they would include incentives and benchmarks to gauge our progress in meeting the longer-term goals -- like affordable housing, environmental quality, transit and infrastructure improvements. So, instead of prescribing the exact number of units to be built within each period, the plans could create a framework where the intensity of development is linked (within a reasonable extent) to the quality of development and the quality of amenities we receive. To make it fair for everyone, these incentives and benchmarks must carry the force of law.

Reward good behavior and good development with more density. Punish failure to meet stated benchmarks with density reductions. In short, create a market for quality development that actually captures the externalities -- both good and bad -- of growth and ascribes financial value to that which previously lacked it.


Anonymous said...

"Trying to plan in detail the next 30 years of development for Town Center is full of pitfalls, not to mention the fact that such an exercise completely devalues the preferences of future Columbians. Instead of deciding on every last detail now, we should focus on the short term specifics and keep the long term discussion focused on guiding principles."

Lack of specificity in a 30-year plan greatly decreases the likelihood of an optimal, or even desired outcome. Myopic views of where we've been and where we're going often lead to getting to the wrong destination.

One example might be a previous ('80's?) agreement with the Zoning Board to not seek any additional Columbia density increases beyond the density increase requested ('80's?) and received then above the original Columbia plan. Hello, 2006, and next density increase request.

Should we just tell anyone who accepted that agreement at face value to grin and bear it if newly proposed density changes negatively impact their lives?

Keep in mind that 30 years really is just a blink in time when it comes to the environment and communities. For some perspective, Native Americans lived in this region for 13,500 years without depleting the natural resources. It only took us about 140 years (1700-1840?) to cut local forests to the point that iron foundries ran out of fuel. Does a just 30-year plan seem all that long in comparison?

Unless a detailed long term plan is created to safeguard our community, the yard markers will keep getting moved, worse outcomes will occur, and shortsightedness will rule the day.

Is it really that hard to ask that a plan be created that does aim for the best outcome 30 years from now and does ask and answer the hard questions (housing, population, schools, environment, transportation, energy, etc.) for everyone's sake?

Or should we just ignore problems we know will happen then if we don't plan just because they're 30 years from now?

Aren't we pretty much enjoying the fruits of a long term plan created a while ago? Doesn't it seem responsible to return the favor?

mary smith said...

Agreement is good. But whatever happened to earning your way? Affordable housing and tax waivers for the elderly are perfectly understandable. But when small children wearing second hand clothing with working parents in old beat up cars are showing up at birthday parties in the federally subidized housing units to see a bevy of shiny new cars, and kids in designer clothing, I gotta step in here.

Do you really not know this reality? I have lived it! When people are young, they work hard to get where more financially secure older people have worked hard to be.

What's the problem with that? I'm in favor of helping the most vulnerable, but able bodied young adults are clearly, definitely not among them.

You're amputating the best part of life when you give things away like this, important things where working and achieving will instead built strength, character, ability and energy to work for good.

Why would you do that?

Hayduke said...

Anon: I agree about the importance of having a 30 year plan, but I disagree with the need to have it spell out exactly what goes where. Like the plan for Columbia, we need to create general, enforceable benchmarks and a guiding set of principles by which progress can be measured, but attempts to draw today an exact picture of what our community should look like 30 years from now is impossible. Look at the original model depiction of Town Center, the community college occupied the Crescent property, a vehicular bridge crossed Rt. 29 and the Lake, and the buildings shown are not the same buildings we know today.

We absolutely need something to guide future development, something visionary that ensures our shared principles are not lost. We also need an effective way to implement this vision. But now, we have one plan trying to do both and the result is a myopic focus on minutea, much of which won't matter 10 years from now because of circumstances beyond our control. (How does the plan -- and by extension our future -- change if a subway system is run to Columbia from Baltimore and DC? Or, how would it change if the price of gasoline became such that consumers drastically changed their driving behaviors?)

A 30 year plan reflects the overriding beliefs of the day it was crafted and one with too many details codifies these beliefs for future generations, regardless of if they hold them or not.

I'm not trying to advocate for only 5 year plans. I still want to see a 30 year plan that maintains the values of Columbia and paints with a broad brush a portrait of our future. The shorter term plans, I think, help to ensure we're making progress towards the grand vision and allow us to adjust to changing times.

Mary: That's the thing. There are thousands of not-necissarily-young families in this county that are working hard everyday but still can't find a house that's affordable. All of the houses being built today are targeted for families earning considerably more than average income.

With respect to your taking away from the joys of being young and poor. Times have changed. When my parents bought their first house, they fretted about having to pay more than 1.5 times their annual combined salary for the house. When my wife and I bought our house last spring, we payed more than 3 times our annual salary. They were also younger than us.

The implication that people just can't afford housing because they're not working hard enough is simply false and shows a near-total lack of empathy for the plight of these families.

mary smith said...

No one said that young people weren't working hard enough. (You've been spending too much time in Keelan's company.)

Plight? Hardly. Young people stay home with parents much longer than prior, and have become accustomed to not doing without many of the things I'd call luxuries. Yes, something as mundane as paper towels seem like a staple to some, but are a luxury to others. Reality.

When you give things away to people who are able to provide for themselves, you prepare them for a life of entitlement, not stength, self-determination, control over their destiny, and you put them to sleep emotionally and spiritually. It's not worth it, the costs are too high.

On the Christmas when my son was 5 years old, my father sent the usual money-as-gift, and I used most of it to pay bills (abhorring debt and being poor simultaneously). But I allowed my children to spend $50 each, more than they would see all year. This might sound pathetic to people who think wireless laptops are a necessity, but you gotta realize, we don't all live by borrowing against the future.

That Christmas, my 5 year old son decided that he wanted a navy blue, double-breasted jacket, seen in an ad. We visited Lord & Taylor and found a wool jacket fitting the description, for $49.99. He loved that jacket, before, during, and after the purchase. How much do you think it would have mattered had I provided a closet full of them?

Anonymous said...

"Plight? Hardly. Young people stay home with parents much longer than prior, and have become accustomed to not doing without many of the things I'd call luxuries."

The problem is, those young people very often have no choice but to stay home with their parents. One bedroom apartments in this county and the surrounding areas average over $1,000 per month. That's a heck of a lot of money to pay for housing. And that doesn't count utilities or other necessities such as food and transportation.

wordbones said...

Mary is on to something here. How many young people consider cable TV and broadband to be necessities?
I know plenty who do.
I also know young people who scrape together enough funds to buy a starter house and then turn around and rent out rooms to their blackberry toting comtemporaries.

It is also true that Jim Rouse once said he wanted to create a community where the company president and the company janitor could live together. The hard truth is that the president no more wants to live next to the janitor than the janitor wants to live next door to the president.

mary smith said...

The only sensible argument in favor of housing subsidies for everyone is the environmental factor, and even still, you cannot mandate that the recipient not drive, or that the spouse be equally as close to work.

It's difficult to imagine a life where everything must be provided simply because one wants it. Toughen up.

My equivalent to trekking to school in snow with holey shoes is driving 4 hours to and from work when the labor market stunk, and the income was necessary. Or driving 140 miles round trip to attend a more challenging university just south of the military base.

Give me some examples other than $1,000 a month so that you can live next to the person who's persevered to be closer to work and maybe it'll be more convincing.

Anonymous said...


give this a shot.

Take your income when you bought your first house and adjust into todays dollars. Estimate your monthly fixed expenses and see how much you would have been able to pay for housing. I bet you would have trouble affording a one bedroom-apartment in Columbia.

If your opinion that everything should be market driven and that no subsidies should be given for low income housing, then I suppose you are comfortable living in a Columbia in which the lower class is comprised of household incomes over $100,000 a year. Have you even looked at housing costs in Columbia? Compare those costs with those in the 80's. My parents bought a 4br 2.5ba house in the early 80's for around $150k. That same house would today go for over $500K.

mary smith said...

I got it.

But I still think you haven't heard me. When I was first married, we would have not been able to afford a house of any kind had it not been for veterans benefits. The military was not anyone's first choice for career, but it worked for people with little opportunity.

Because of those years in the military, we were able to afford a Baltimore City row home. Not Columbia.

Do you see where I'm going with this? Expectations are out of line. Move past the material items and live for a year by purchasing nearly nothing, then you'll understand. To this day I do not have cable TV or a wireless laptop. I do, however, indulge in paper towels (but only if they are less than $.69 per roll).

Currently my salary is in the top 10% of the nation. I can say that only because I'm anonymous (a plug for the value in anonymity). And still, I heat my house with a wood stove while my neighbors pay BGE bills the size of Mt. Everest. I guess they like working for their employer because that's what they'll be doing while my house is paid off in a couple of years.

Point is: Anyone, Anyone can have what I have if they do what I've done. No question, Anyone can.

But, you gotta do it for yourself.

Anonymous said...

OK, so you were only able to afford a house through veteran's benefits. So, instead of low-income housing, the answer is for the nations working poor to join the military so that they can receive government subsidies that are set aside for veterans? I am missing the point I guess. You got your first house through the VA, so why would yoube against low-income housing?

Sure anyone can be in the top 10% if all they care about is how much they earn. Is the answer for every teacher to quit so that they can earn a wage more deserving of their abilities? Is it really fair that the people with doctorates who teach your children have difficulty affording to live in the same county as you?

As a side note - does wood cost much less than BG&E would assuming you have a energy-effecient furnace and home?

BTW - I would venture to guess that paper towels, your favorite luxury, are less expensive than the alternative when you consider the cost of rags and water/soap/electricity to clean them.

I will aggree with you that there is an obsession with luxury items overall. Low-income housing should not be provided so that someone can own a brand new car - that IS NOT the point. It should be there for those who would not otherwise be able to afford the housing.

It sounds like the way you have lived your life and your income are going to allow you to leave a small fortune to your descendants. It must be nice.

Anonymous said...

Anon#1 here.

"How does the plan -- and by extension our future -- change if a subway system is run to Columbia from Baltimore and DC?"

Well, 30 miles of subway x $350M-$1B per mile = $10B-$30B. That's spending the same as building 200-600 high schools to get a system that:
- only serves a few stations thus still requiring driving and parking accommodations at each station,
- requires users to limit their schedule to fit its operating hours,
- requires users to wait for trains to arrive,
- forces commutes to be unnecessarily lengthened by stopping at each intermediate station,
- requires significant land to be cleared for right-of-way, etc.

Hopefully, the consensus will be to use PRT instead of subways.

But to more directly answer your point, the need for mass transit during the next 30 years is definitely not a "circumstance beyond our control". It being foreseeable, should therefore, be well addressed in a 30-year plan.

Do you want development to occur now and 15 years down the road be constrained by lack of forethought and the additional development as to where mass transit can be integrated into our community? (Insert vision here of that one charrette drawing showing the subway line running along 29 and very un-eco-friendly on top of the river and stopping at the Rouse Building.)

Or do you want a plan that does say 'yes we know now we're going to need it' and provides adequate provisions for where it would optimally be placed and makes the best plans possible for a system that will be the most economical, useful, convenient, and eco-friendly?

"Or, how would it change if the price of gasoline became such that consumers drastically changed their driving behaviors?"

If gas prices (again) jumped, we'll see a reduction in the standard of living due to increased transportation costs and other cost increases across the board. No fun for anyone, but it may accelerate the rate at which we adopt cleaner transporation for everyone's sake.

Lending credence to Mary's financial philosophy, Warren Buffett's license plate actually says "THRIFTY".

Anonymous said...

I'm not talking cable TV, paper towels, or laptops. I'm talking about being able to afford either an apartment within a reasonable driving distance to work, or an apartment further away, but then you must add the cost of reliable transportation to and from work.

Try making ends meet today on $26,000 a year, gross income. I was barely able to do it 8 years ago. No, I didn't have cable. I didn't have papertowels. Or a laptop, or nights out with my friends. I didn't have food most of the time. And this was when apartments were renting for $600.

Now, as I see my neighbors, friends, sibling, try to strike out on their own, they aren't able to because they don't make in the top 10% in the nation. They don't make in the top 10% in the county. They aren't lazy kids, as you would believe. These are hard working people who still don't make enough to get their own place.

You yourself benefitted from subsidies in the form of VA benefits. Why deny that to this generation?

mary smith said...

Goodness. Again, no one said lazy. I'm beginning to think that some have been addressing the 20-somethings in this manner, and is the basis for the protestations, to take this seemingly arbitrary direction.

Let me address the VA benefits. If you would care to potentially put your life on the line to have opportunity later after service to the people of this country, then you have that option.

The consequences of our choices are indisputable in this case.

Also, I didn't ever say completely market-driven. I repeat, and add details (oops, not abstract): Elderly, infirm, mentally and physically challenged require help but not able bodied younger people.

One last item. Thanks for identifying as anon#1. It's helpful. From my perspective, I can't determine who is who otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Why not subsidies for the firefighters, police, state highway workers, county highway workers, and others who also put their lives on the line every day? The military is not the only way that people risk their lives in service to the people of this country.

mary smith said...

I see your point, and there are some professions that undoubtedly require more benefits.

But I still disagree with the more abstract (does this count?) notion of supporting the able-bodied in place of requiring years of arduous, character-building hard work. I'm a fan of hard work, shoot me! I think nothing could be more American than the freedom of self determination and when you give things away, well, we've already talked about what that does to individuals.

I'm also a fan of struggle because it seems to bring out the best in people who would otherwise not achieve widely reknowned and recounted greatness which we can all look to and learn from, like the abstractions of Ghandi. (does that count? I believe it met both the requirement for examples and the requirement for abstractions)

I'm talking to two people at once here. Hope you can each get the meaning.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that hard work still doesn't always make ends meet. Do the math for people making minimum wage. Heck, for people making 13$/hr. Even working overtime won't fill the gap.

It isn't a matter of giving away housing so people can sit at home. It's helping people afford decent housing. It's making sure that after working those long and hard days, that those people have a place to come home to.

Anon #3 (or something...)

Anonymous said...

People who make $13.00 an hour, not only can not afford to buy in Howard County, they can not afford to rent in Howard County. The cost to create housing or subsidies that will allow them to reside where they work would be astronomical. They do not begin to meet the threshold of affordable housing, but are low-income housing. None of the programs we talk about address the needs of those citizens. It is easy to confuse the two... which makes it easy to forget about what our lowest earners need in terms of basic living- as opposed to the target population for affordable housing. What is our moral choice? Finding basic shelter for our poorest workers? Or funding a program to allow our middle income workers to buy their own home- instead of rent?

mary catherine

Anonymous said...

Anon#1 again-

The moral choice is providing the safety net for those that truly need it.

$13/hr may mean the choice is sharing an apartment if also choosing the *luxury* of living local to work.

I still think the issue is being looked at in ways that ignore available options.

If Baltimore has 10% of its housing stock vacant, why shouldn't that be considered as a potential solution to part of the affordable housing problem? Provide a truly robust and forward-thinking mass transit system and everyone wins.

Chris said...

"Because of those years in the military, we were able to afford a Baltimore City row home. Not Columbia. "

"If Baltimore has 10% of its housing stock vacant, why shouldn't that be considered as a potential solution to part of the affordable housing problem? Provide a truly robust and forward-thinking mass transit system and everyone wins."

So just send everyone to Baltimore who can't afford to live in Columbia? Baltimore is the most dangerous big city in the country. It has a murder rate 6 times that of NYC. Its public school system graduates less than 30% of incoming freshman.

Sure, you could buy or rent a house in one of the "nice" neighborhoods, but guess what? Canton and Federal Hill are not anymore affordable than Columbia. If you have kids, sending them to private school is only going to make it less affordable.

You are effectively saying, "poor people live in Baltimore already so we should just send our poor people (teachers, firefighters) to Baltimore where we can further the creation of income ghettos in the area."

Im no "Rouse" scholor, but i dont think that was his intention in creating Columbia.

maybe a public transit system that expands the boundires of Baltimore (figuratively) could be a catalyst for change within the city which could lead to more SAFE affordable housing in the region.

mary smith said...


Maybe Baltimore wouldn't be so dangerous if more people like you lived there. I lived there for years. Is that a problem for you?

Anonymous (teacher):

I would no more pay for wood than I would pay > $.69 for paper towels. I'd do without first. I can't tell you how low my thermostat is set because you'd all gasp. (I can stand anything, anything, but not the hand-to-the-chest gasp).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (teacher)
Well, it is possible in this climate to go without heat for much of the year. I was born in an area of the country that is regularly the coldest. Unfortunately, my dogs are the primary reason I have the heat on most of the time. They have no tolerance for cold at all. But I installed a programmable thermostat and I am pretty conservative anyways. There are tons of things one can do to save money - but that it not the point. Sometimes housing is just not affordable for people.

Oh - I realize dogs are a luxory type item. Most of the arguments I am making are not meant to be about myself. I wouldn't and shouldn't qualify for low-income housing.

And - I lived in Baltimore for years. It is a nice place if you live in a decent neighborhood. But , let's face it, the neighboorhods that are affordable are also dangerous. also, once you figure in the increased costs of living in the city i.e. car insurance (you have to find a way to get your columbia job), private school, property taxes (about 3 times the county's rate), and cost of commuting, then I doubt you would find any savings.

When did you live in Baltimore?

Don't get me wrong - I like Baltimore and don't believe the hype that it's the most "dangerous big city in the country." Most of the evidence doesn't support that. But I do believe it is in the top 5 .

The point is that every community should have housing available to those that work there. I am not talking about handouts. I am talking about housing that is affordable to the working population. The point is to avoid a situation where you have a working homeless population. I can't understand why you are against that! Housing in columbia was once accessable to the lower and middle class. On the street where I grew up, many people had blue-collar jobs and worked very hard. Yes, they barely made ends meet. No, they didn't have new cadillac's in the driveway.
However, houses in this neighborhood now go for over $400,000 and are not accessable to the middle class. I bet you'll find tons of brand new luxory cars if you drive down that street today.

Don't get me wrong. I think it's nice that many of these people were able to sell their houses for a lot of money and move to florida. I just think it's sad that this is what has become of Columbia. With few exceptions, it has become less and less accessable to those who wish to work their way up the ladder, and more reserved for those at the top.

Anonymous said...

Anon#1 again -

"So just send everyone to Baltimore who can't afford to live in Columbia?

No, I said Baltimore is part of the solution. To ignore available housing stock in already developed areas runs counter to the "smart" growth mantra of avoiding consuming additional greenspace by putting additional density where greenspace isn't and infrastructure is.

And to say our firefighters and teachers are poor seems a stretch. 2006 starting salary for teachers - $37,653, 2005 starting salary for firefighters - about $35,000.

"once you figure in the increased costs of living in the city i.e. car insurance (you have to find a way to get your columbia job), private school, property taxes (about 3 times the county's rate), and cost of commuting, then I doubt you would find any savings.

This just reinforces my opinion that forward-thinking mass transit must be part of the solution to HoCo's affordable housing - and to Baltimore's woes, too. If folks living in Baltimore had access to affordable *transportation* to get to better paying jobs surrounding Baltimore, they too could afford improved infrastructure (schools, law enforcement, etc.)

When I hear people saying either Columbia needs light rail or metro or that Baltimore isn't a solution to suburb's affordable housing because of high cost of car transportation, I just shake my head. Better mass transit solutions are available to us.

Personal rapid transportation can equal or exceed both the speed and convenience of cars, can be cheaper to use than cars, can be much cheaper to build than light rail or metro, can be far more convenient and safer than light rail or metro, and can be cleaner and far more eco-friendly than cars. Wouldn't you like to be chauffeured to work at 100 mph at less cost?

Hayduke said...

I don't know if anyone's still reading this (and I don't know that I should be commenting at this hour), but I just wanted to clear up something: Chris already lives in Baltimore.

Oh, and also for Mary, I wish I could set up the cool "Latest Comments" box that Keelan has, but Blogger won't allow it. Maybe I'll eventually make the switch to Wordpress or something...

mary smith said...

This evokes a zillion mundande questions like:
a. Why didn't Chris just say he lives in BA?
b. How does he know about this Howard County Blog?
c. Were you awake from the night before or awakened early?

No need to respond, it'll likely raise a gaggle of further mundane questions.

Hayduke said...

a: He is usually not very forthcoming with details about his personal life.

b: He ain't heavy, he's my brother.

c: I had just gotten home from a show, or gig (if you want to sound cool), that my band played.

I think these answers speak for themselves and raise no other questions.

Anonymous said...

Try to pay rent or buy a house plus pay for a car payment plus pay utilites plus save money for retirement or rainy day fund on $35,000 salary. I'd love to see it.

Anonymous said...

Ok. $35k starting salary, subtract $2,000 pretax retirement savings, leaving $33k, then 25% taxes, leaving $24750, or $2063/mo.

Rent: $600/mo. Share a 2BR condo or apartment, splitting the $1200/mo rent.

Shared utilities: Gas/Electric $180/mo, water/sewer $30/mo, DSL Internet $25/mo, VOIP phone $20/mo, analog cable TV $50/mo. That totals $305/mo. Divide by two since shared = $158/mo.

Car payment: $200/mo. for a used 2004 Chevy Cavalier from CarMax 33k miles, $8998 ($850 tax/title/tags),(5 yr loan @ 8%) - (Less expensive, older, higher mileage cars are available that could drop this payment to $136/mo.)

$2,063 - $600/mo rent - $158/mo utilities - $200/mo car = $1,105.

Also subtract car insurance ($100/mo?) and gas ($100/mo?), leaving $905.

Groceries? $500 per month seems like plenty and then some.

That leaves $405/mo. ($4860/yr) for health insurance contribution (which is pretax), clothing, gifts, movies, eating out, health club membership, cell phone, and saving for the suntan lotion for the 3 best reasons for becoming a teacher - June, July, and August.

Buy the cheaper car and that goes up to $470/mo. ($5650/yr) Keep driving it after the loan's paid and it goes up to $606/mo. ($7282/yr).

mary smith said...

Ah Ha! Someone who knows the value of the most certain and the most ignored method of financial success: The Budget.

Abstractly speaking, (are we still on that hook?)if you view a budget that goes out, say, 10 years, and you see that you are not earning the money you would like, or your expenses are too high, then you can make changes today for the future.

It works. I'd love to teach that class. This is the reason I do not have the career I'd prefer, but what was more lucrative. I had children to provide for, and, oh, this is not abstract. You get the idea.

Chris said...

wow, i didnt realize i had become the subject of questions. so in response to mary smith, here you go:

A. I think i'm just generally lazy about posting details about myself.

B. Its true, i am the little brother of hayduke. Although i dont comment too often, i have been known to leave a few snarky comments of my own .

I also find political commentary interesting, espcially when it relates to affordable housing.

C. n/a

One other quick point about Bal'mer from someone who lives here: Although statistically, it would appear it is a very diverse city, Baltimore is very segregated. In columbia, while the numbers are not as diverse, i felt it really was a mixing of cultures and people. I dont get that feeling here. for graphical evidence, look at this map

and here is a table

slightly off-topic, but i find it interesting.