Let the market set stock-options pricing

Regarding "Expensing the golden goose," (Editorial, July 17): An oft-repeated challenge to expensing employee stock options is how to go about pricing the options. Even if all companies did, voluntarily or otherwise, expense their stock options, they would do it differently, and investors would get no clearer picture when comparing one firm's post options earnings against another.

I propose a simple and fair solution to pricing employee stock options and removing this red herring: do it the same way other options are priced, i.e., by the market. Companies should be required to make available to the public, or at least to existing shareholders, the same quantity of options being issued to officers and employees. The market would then determine the fair price of the options, and hence the value to be expensed. That way, the public could directly participate in the pricing process rather than through the sometimes-distorted wall of investment banks.

Any other option pricing approach is only an attempt to model the real market's opinion in real time.
Christopher Nguyen
San Jose, Calif.

'Green buildings' conserve energy

Thank you for an excellent feature "Green buildings bloom around the US" (Ideas, July l8). The town of Greenburgh, NY (population 87,000) will soon become the second locality in the nation to mandate energy conservation in new construction. Buildings will be required to meet federal Energy Star standards – about 30 percent more efficient than typical construction.

Every locality in the nation should be mandating energy conservation and green buildings – especially in new construction and in large-scale renovations. Voluntary energy conservation doesn't work. Mandatory initiatives will end our reliance on foreign oil, which indirectly will help us win the war against terrorism.
Paul Feiner
Greenburgh, N.Y.
Town Supervisor

Misconceptions on Egypt

The ancient Egyptian "Am Duat" and "Book of the Dead" are two different documents, not the same as your article "New show rivals the treasures of King Tut" (July 17, Home Forum) stated. "Am Duat" means "That which is in the Netherworld," the place where the sun god Re journeyed through the night and where the dead resided. It describes Re's journey through the 12 hours of the night, including his battles with the snake god Apophis, and final triumph and rebirth in the morning – with the promise of rebirth in the afterlife for everyone. In contrast, the "Book of the Dead" is a collection of spells that assist the soul in "Going forth by Day" from the tomb as an immortal spirit.

The article also states that the "vast majority of Egyptian art was created to aid the deceased in the afterlife." The extraordinary preservation in Egypt's dry desert, where cemeteries were often located, and an early Egyptological focus on tomb excavation have filled museums with funerary objects, understandably creating this impression. But Egypt's huge, elaborately decorated temples and the rarer objects of everyday life that survive today show that the combination of art and religion reached throughout Egyptian society. It is therefore more accurate to say that most Egyptian art had a religious purpose, serving both to assist the soul after death and propitiate the gods and express individual and collective piety during life.
Stuart Smith
Santa Barbara, Calif.
Associate Professor, UCSB

Department of Anthropology

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