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Legislators should lose pay if there is no budget

I have followed the budget mess in Harrisburg with a certain amount of anger and disgust at the behavior of the members of the Legislature.

I am of the opinion that we'd already have a budget if, along with other state employees, the legislators and their staff members also were not paid until the budget is passed ("Lawmakers Pay Themselves First," Aug. 6). I realize that pigs will fly before this happens. However, I would like to propose that voters refuse to vote for anyone who does not promise to vote for this change to the budgeting law.

I also believe that this is the opportune time to cut the size of the Pennsylvania legislative bodies. If this were done, then perhaps half of what is saved could go to the budget deficit and half to tax cuts! This would contribute to balancing the budget for now and on into the future.

MARGARET MILLER
Point Breeze


Ax them first

Regarding "Layoffs Are Imminent for State Workers" (Aug. 11): The only "state employees" who should be laid off are 50 percent of our state representatives! We definitely don't need that many representatives who are really there only for the money and superb benefits that the ordinary person does not have!

JEAN SHIELDS
Penn Hills


NRA victory

In the efforts to explain a madman's rage, reasons and purposes in his murderous rampage ("Four Dead in Fitness Center Shooting," Aug. 5), as well as comments that nothing could have been done to prevent it, we seem to have forgotten this as a huge symbol of victory for the National Rifle Association as the assault weapons ban was allowed to die quietly.

George Sodini acquired all the guns and ammunition legally. Apparently his Second Amendment rights superseded those of the victims of his anger.

Tell me again -- we need assault-style weapons, why?

HEATHER REBIC
Forest Hills


Evil has no bounds

I cannot understand why one would blame firearms for the tragic incident at LA Fitness in Collier.

First, criminals, believe it or not, do not abide by the law. If this man was unable to obtain a firearm legally, he would have done it illegally. Second, if people going to this gym were known to carry firearms for self-defense, this man would have thought twice before carrying out his dastardly deed there.

Lastly, if there were no firearms accessible to him, he could have driven a vehicle right into the building, or planted a bomb. Evil people will do evil things, no matter what object and/or method they choose to do it with.

I extend my sympathies to the families of the victims.

DEVON WITTPENN
Munhall


His family hurts, too

I too am so saddened by the shooting at the LA Fitness center and pray daily for the families and friends of the victims. Hearing only statements of hatred and anger toward the attacker and how glad everyone is that he is dead -- have we forgotten that he also has a family who is hurting and has not only his loss to grieve but also the horrific act he committed before his suicide?

When I hear of all the sadness and pain for all involved, my heart goes especially toward the Sodini family and hope only that the caring community we are can extend to them as well.

PATRICIA HARPER
McDonald


Our remembrance?

The tragedy at the LA Fitness center made me think of the Montreal Massacre. On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine, a friendless, mentally ill man (sound familiar?) decided that women, particularly feminists, were the cause of all his problems. He went into a university classroom, ordered all the men to leave and shot the women in the room, killing or wounding them, then moved on to kill others in other areas of the building before turning the gun on himself.

In response to this senseless tragedy, Canada has declared Dec. 6 "National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women." This day involves workshops, strategy sessions and general action to hold men accountable for their role in violence against women and involves planning on how to end it (for more info, go to www.whiteribbon.ca).

What will Pittsburgh do to ensure that the women we've lost to our own senseless tragedy were not murdered in vain?

OCEAN CAPEWELL
Lawrenceville


Not free care

Why is it people opposed to health-care reform all have some sort of health coverage, but if and when they lose their coverage they become proponents for reform?

Why is it if you are declared disabled by Social Security you must wait two years before receiving coverage through Medicare; doesn't disabled mean you are in need of medical attention?

Conservatives, allay your fears; those poor folk are not getting something for free. Medicare is not free to its recipients; it costs me $97 a month plus Part B, which can cost as much as $140 a month. These costs are as much or more than employee contributions to employer-sponsored health insurance programs.

FRANK B. GREENLEE
Wilkinsburg


Have some sense

All right, people, listen up: A government health-care system will not take away your own plan or change it unless you want to change. It will provide care for millions of uninsured. As it stands now, the insurance companies are making huge profits. Think -- if they can afford to spend more than a million dollars a day to lobby against this, it should give you a clue.

A government health-care system would save money in the long run. There would be no CEOs to pay big bucks to or middlemen to pay. Most people have some common sense; too bad that the GOP and Blue Dogs have none. What they do have is an abundance of arrogance and greed. (Where do you think that money is going?)

And by the way, the idea of giving people counseling on living wills and the right to die is a good thing. Any doctor, nurse or hospice care person will tell you that most people who are assured that their wishes for care will be carried out, including dying at home, find more comfort and peace. They are usually surrounded by family and friends. This provides death with dignity. That is something that -- like health care -- everyone should have the right to.

LINDA LANCASTER
Coraopolis


Confusing signs

Regarding Interstate 376: How confusing for out-of-town and even local drivers. One example. There are signs in Carnegie that say "To 279." When you get to where the turn-off is, there is no sign for 279, only 376. Since I know that 279 is now being renamed 376, it works for me. But what about other drivers who don't know this? They will just continue on down the road looking for a turn-off for 279.

Couldn't the signs say 376, formerly 279, or something like that to avoid confusion? This would help all those who use Mapquest, Google and GPS maps too.

JAN WIRE
Collier


Don't penalize care providers for patients' poor decisions

I am writing in response to the article "Obesity's Costs Emerge as a Major Concern" (Aug. 2). First let me commend the PG for printing the article and featuring it so prominently in the Sunday edition. Certainly any issue that is costing the nation $147 billion annually in health-care costs, not to mention untold misery to many people, is worthy of discussion.

My comments focus specifically on the last portion of the article, in which U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire is said to favor "an approach to pay incentives to physicians based on the health of their patients." Later in the article, Rep. Altmire states that he added a provision to the House health-care bill that would withhold 2 percent of Medicare payments to hospitals that they could earn back if they improve patient outcomes.

While the aims may be noble, the thinking represented in these statements is misguided. When are we going to place accountability at the feet of the individual patient? When I'm sitting at my dinner table, is my physician there to counsel me on the benefits of abstaining from a second helping of pasta? When my alarm clock goes off in the morning, is my local hospital administrator there to gently urge me to head off to the gym before I start work?

Of course not. Those decisions, and the vast majority of decisions that influence my health, are in my hands. Until the individual decides to make healthy choices, no amount of punitive or incentive measures aimed at those in the health-care value chain will amount to anything other than frustration, administrative waste and misplaced accountability.

ARUN RANCHOD
Ellwood City


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We welcome your letters. Please include your name, address and phone number, and send to Letters to the Editor, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222. E-mail letters to letters@post-gazette.com or fax to 412-263-2014. Letters should be 250 words or less, original and exclusive to the Post-Gazette. All letters are subject to editing for length, clarity and accuracy and will be verified before being published.



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