I applaud state Auditor General Jack Wagner's call for a "Green Pennsylvania" (March 18 Perspectives). As a recent transplant to Pittsburgh from San Francisco, I recognized Pittsburgh's growing green ethic as a powerful enticement to make the move -- but throughout the process I have faced countless curious questioners from both cities who ask, "Why on earth would you leave San Francisco for Pittsburgh?" I have responded with stories of Pittsburgh's affordable housing, strong community and "small-town feel with big-city perks."
Most importantly, however, as a 34-year-old entrepreneur, I am thrilled by the possibility of helping to turn Pittsburgh into a green technology powerhouse. For me and countless others like me, green equals opportunity. We see that the only palatable future is one in which green ethics and practices dominate culture, politics and industry.
The degree to which Pittsburgh establishes itself as a visionary proponent of a green economy will determine its success in attracting and retaining the young people who will undoubtedly create that new economy. A green State Office Building would be a great start down that path, and I look forward to seeing this and many other green initiatives continue to redefine our region in a powerful, sustainable direction.
The writer is co-producer of YERT -- Your Environmental Road Trip, a 50-state eco-documentary tour that launched from Pittsburgh (http://www.yert.com).
The FDA and trust
After reading several letters to the editor concerning vaccines and possible side effects, several questions need to be answered. Why do people believe that vaccines cause autism? Why do people not believe the research and their medical doctors?
I believe that some of the blame can be put on the Food and Drug Administration. Patients no longer trust that the FDA has their safety in mind. Let's remember a drug that research showed was good for osteoarthritis and had no side effects. Merck marketed Vioxx as the once-a-day pill. This drug was cleared by the FDA and was shown to have little or no side effects. We all know now that Vioxx causes increased risk of stroke and heart attack. We also know that Merck has been accused of hiding research that showed these side effects.
What does this have to do with vaccines and autism? No matter what research shows or a doctor tells a patient, there must be trust in the information. Medical doctors do not understand that some of their patients do not believe a word they say when it comes to vaccines and autism. Why? Because, like Vioxx, many drugs have been pulled from the shelves after new research shows that there are severe side effects. This is why there are conspiracy theories about "Big Pharma" and why some parents correlate vaccines with autism.
Until the FDA begins to do its job effectively many people will not believe or trust their doctors or any research. It is imperative that the FDA be fixed and keep people safe from all dangerous drugs and promote the drugs that are beneficial.
ANTHONY P. CHAPPIE, D.C.
Greentree Chiropractic and Rehab
Basic rights for all
In a society still permeated by homophobia, we were pleased to see your March 10 editorial "Simple Fairness: Sexual Orientation Shouldn't Invite Discrimination." As members of rockOUT (formerly LGBTA) at Slippery Rock University, we support state Rep. Dan Frankel's House Bill 300, which will prohibit acts of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
And you're right: This isn't about "pursuing a homosexual agenda" but about extending basic rights to all people in a country dedicated to equality and fairness.
We are familiar both with discrimination and with the rhetoric that describes the protection of basic rights as "special treatment." It is not special treatment to ensure that a gay man who does his job well and thoroughly be protected from being unjustly fired because his boss doesn't like "queers." Neither is it special treatment to ensure that a lesbian who is being harassed at school be guaranteed protection.
The simple (and sad) reality is that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community continues to wake up daily in a world where hating "gays" is still somehow acceptable, where calling a boy or a man a "fag" is the worst insult imaginable and where a lesbian is gang-raped simply because she drove a car with a rainbow gay pride sticker ("4 Arrested in Lesbian Rape," Jan. 2).
Things have gotten better, certainly, and continued education, advocacy and activism will bring us all closer to our country's ideal of "equality for all." In the meantime, we thank you for endorsing that ideal. We do, too.
CINDY LaCOM and SHARON SYKORA
The writers are faculty co-advisers for rockOUT at Slippery Rock University.
What's the use?
In regard to the recent Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board contract ("PLCB Consulting Contract Questioned," March 10): I am pleased to see some members of the Legislature speaking up in opposition to the courtesy contract. Let's not even worry about who the contract was awarded to. Rep. Dave Levdansky is right. We should not be wasting government money on something like this.
I mean, do we really need to spend over $170,000 teaching state store employees how to be courteous with people? I have a feeling if they made it this far in life, they probably can handle themselves OK on their own.
Besides, does it really matter if they actually were mean and nasty to the customers? It's not like you can just go to one of their competitors if you don't like the service. They've got that whole monopoly thing going for them. You're kind of stuck with them.
An ironic position
Don't you think it's ironic that our government officials are upset with people receiving excessive payment for services rendered?
That's day-to-day operation for them.
What would the FDR revisionists have done?
The article by James O'Toole on the revisionists' efforts to discredit Franklin Roosevelt's record on responding to the Depression deserves comment ("FDR's Policies Get New Deal of Criticism From Revisionists' Analysis," March 8). The criticisms of Amity Shlaes and others ignore these truths.
America in 1932 (the Hoover administration) was locked in a vise of fear and despair. The Army, led by Gen. Douglas MacArthur (whom Roosevelt described as "the most dangerous man in America"), used bayonets and tear gas to force out of Washington, D.C., unarmed World War I veterans and their families protesting not receiving bonus payments promised to them. Banks were closing; drought and poverty engulfed the Midwest and bread lines snaked around city blocks.
FDR responded to fear and desperation with strong words of hope and a series of programs designed to save this country from civil unrest and upheaval. He was a pragmatist who was committed to the notion of a proactive government helping people.
He began much of this while governor of New York, getting no help from the diffident Hoover administration.
Did it all work? Of course not. But , he pre-empted the radicals such as Huey Long and Dr. Francis Townsend and created the first comprehensive social safety net, Social Security.
Ask any of these revisionists what they would have done in the same situation. Their silence will be deafening and vindicates FDR's efforts and record.