Letters to the Editor

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Mr. Obama, please help find a cure for my brother

A new president brings hope on many fronts. For me, I am most hopeful about positive, forward-thinking change in our nation's stem-cell research policy.

My 60-year-old brother is now living in a nursing home due to Parkinson's disease diagnosed 20 years ago; I call on President-elect Barack Obama to take his support for embryonic stem-cell research from the Senate to the White House. Finding a cure for this horrible disease is imperative as there are approximately 60,000 new cases diagnosed annually. My brother has been waiting 20 years for a cure, much too long!

Mr. Obama should enact ethical and responsible federal policy on embryonic stem-cell research so our nation's scientists can do their best work and so there are not others still waiting for a cure 20 years from now.

Embryonic stem-cell research has shown great promise these past 10 years. It deserves the chance to show its real power in finding better treatments and cures for all neurological disorders.

Bethel Park

Not just workers would be hit by a transit strike

Thank you for the Nov. 14 article titled "How You Will Get to Work? The Possibility of a Public Transit Strike Poses Thousands of Allegheny County Commuters With a Similar Problem."

As a manager of an adult educational facility Downtown, the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, I have spent the last couple weeks concerned for our students. Many of them are lower-income clients who rely exclusively on public transportation to access school, health care, work and other essential services.

Your article centered around the inconveniences of workers getting to their jobs. I can relate; it will be inconvenient for me to get to my job, but I'll get there.

I worry more about our citizens who won't be able to get to school to complete their GED tests, the English language learners who need to improve language skills in order to get a job to provide for their family and those lower-wage workers who need to keep their jobs to keep the lights on.

For many of our students, and for those who access social services in Pittsburgh, public transportation is not just a time or money saver, it is a life saver.

It is my hope that the union and Port Authority won't use transit riders as pawns in an effort to gain an upper hand in bargaining. I hope that both parties will realize the stakes -- not just for themselves, but for our region at large.


Plan green for strike

The possibility of a mass-transit strike raises the chance of implementing more "green" strategies.

In the Washington, D.C. area, people stand at bus stops to get picked up by drivers who need riders in order to use HOV lanes.

During the 2006 New York City transit strike, many used Craigslist and other means to find carpools, or also waited at bus stops with destination signs so that sympathetic drivers could stop to offer a ride. (Perhaps it would be most successful if riders offer to help pay for gas and parking.)

A Web site designer should be able to set up a site specifically to facilitate carpooling; maybe someone could even earn some income doing this.

Rather than sit and wait and wring our hands, we should get busy and plan for a strike.

Mt. Lebanon

Buses and bluster

Regarding the possible strike of the Port Authority workers and the back and forth on the letters page about a strike ... I believe that the Port Authority workers are either tactically neglecting or simply missing a keen point: One's labor is worth its scarcity.

Truth be told, there are not only many folks who would be willing to drive buses, but also there are many who could drive buses. Meaning? While I am not saying the job is easy, the truth is that many would and could drive a bus; that the skills required are neither unique nor rare; that your reward for your labor is already questionably high. And, importantly, Port Authority employees, you will have very few friends on your side of the tape should you strike.

On another labor issue, I can't believe I'm saying this but I would have no problem with the NFL players striking over the fines being levied against them for simply playing football.


What free market?

I watched with horror as President George W. Bush at the Manhattan Institute touted the virtues of the "free market" to an applauding crowd. ("Bush Defends Free Markets," Nov. 14). Mr. Bush has only two months to completely destroy the world economy. Some say he already has.

Here are a couple of headlines for those who haven't had the time to study both economics and history:

• There is no such thing as a "free market."

• The "middle class" is the creation of government intervention in the marketplace and wouldn't exist without it (as millions of Americans and Europeans are discovering).

Any sports fan can tell you that football without rules and referees would be a mess. Similarly, business without rules won't work.

Alan Greenspan may be capable of learning from his mistakes, but Mr. Bush is more rigid and narrow-minded. He must think the current crisis is just a bump in a road to even "freer" markets (and lower wages) that began with Ronald Reagan. Now, more than ever, we need tariffs and regulations.

What does this mean as we go forward? The economy will continue to reel as Mr. Bush continues to hand out a trillion dollars of our money to all the Wall Street (Republican) bankers that he has been in the habit of doing favors for over the last eight years.

We should have impeached him while we had the chance.


Mayview's future

Since July, hundreds of mental-health advocates have attended Mayview Land Re-Use Task Force meetings asking that the property be sold at fair-market value and proceeds used to fund a mental-health savings trust account. But as your story in PG West ("Mayview Zoning Change Aims to Spur Redevelopment," Oct. 23) reported:

" 'We see speaker after speaker get up and say that the property has to be sold for fair market value, with the money going to help with mental-health care across the state,' said [South Fayette] Commissioner Deron Gabriel, who represents the township on the task force. 'It's a little unrealistic.' "

Since the early 1900s, Mayview's purpose has been to serve local people with mental illness. Why change the purpose with its closure? If you're concerned about where residents will end up or how it will affect your life, why not help ensure their success? Could this be a first step to fix our broken system?

Our region has taken similar steps recently. Residents of Pittsburgh's Hill District will receive funds to improve their community and quality of life as Hill District land is used for a new arena. Why not offer the same opportunity for Mayview residents?

State Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, and Rep. Nick Kotik, D-Robinson, must support legislation to dedicate proceeds from the fair-market sale of Mayview's property to community-based mental-health services. They have the ability to take our concerns to the General Assembly. Urge them to be pioneers. Urge them to take a chance, to do the right thing.


The GOP pick

In the wake of Barack Obama's election, conservatives across the country are attributing the Republican loss to the fact that they chose to put a "moderate" at the top of their ticket. They assert that America, at its core, is overwhelmingly conservative.

If that is so, then why did Republican voters fail to select one of the several conservatives they could have chosen in the primary?

Mt. Lebanon

Scrap the job

Regarding your Nov. 14 editorial, "Rite of Passage," rather than consider an amendment to the state constitution for succeeding a lieutenant governor, why not consider an amendment to get rid of the essentially ceremonial position and save taxpayers its $135,000 salary plus associated staff costs? For as often as a governor leaves office in mid-term, and given the lack of duties for a lieutenant governor, surely a succession plan can be formed without such a position.

I guess this has as much chance of happening as reducing the number of state representatives!


Correction/Clarification: (Published Nov. 25, 2008) A letter by Alexander M. Dow about the impact of a transit strike on clients of the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council as originally published Nov. 20, 2008 misstated the name of the organization.


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