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Altmire should be applauded for his stance

I was appalled when I read the editorial about Jason Altmire ("Vote of Weakness," March 22). I have seen Rep. Jason Altmire present a cogent case for his vote over several weeks. He has spoken ill of neither President Barack Obama nor his fellow Democrats.

Silly me -- I was under the impression that a member of Congress was allowed to use his conscience, good sense and the will of his constituents when casting a vote. Rather than commending Rep. Altmire for his courage, you have essentially called him a traitor to the president, his district and the country.

I resent the blanket characterization of Republicans as "wild-eyed." If anyone is "wild-eyed," it is the person who expects to get health insurance today. Even if everything goes President Obama's way, this bill will be phased in over several years, although we will begin paying for it as soon as it is signed.

Maybe you consider Jason Altmire to be "on the wrong side of history," but time might prove you wrong.

SUSAN S. BECRAFT
Mt. Lebanon


Individual thinker

Jason Altmire's health care vote was a vote of strength, not a "vote of weakness" as editorialized by the Post-Gazette March 22. We are a nation of individual thinkers. The result is that our way of life is second to none in the world.

The PG has it wrong. Many of the 219 members of our House of Representatives "looked this moment straight in the eye and couldn't muster the backbone to vote 'no' " on a bill that takes away many of our freedoms by a political process that most U.S. citizens don't understand.

Mr. Altmire is right. Health reform is needed but not as dictated in this bill, nor by a political process that many legal scholars believe is outside of Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States.

DON BEYNON
Oakmont


New respect for him

In response to your March 22 editorial "Vote of Weakness," you state Rep. Jason Altmire betrayed the Democrats and his district. I have come to expect the editorial staff to consistently embrace the Democratic Party line; they simply cannot help themselves. But please refrain from representing what is in the best interest of Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District.

Most of the people in the 4th are self-sufficient types who care for themselves, their families and their neighbors without needing unjustified governmental fiat to achieve someone else's vision of social justice. Mr. Altmire recognized this and voted accordingly. Health care reform may, in fact, be necessary, but the bill passed by the House is nothing more than the most audacious governmental power grab in memory.

During the run up to the vote on this kerfuffle, I suggested to Mr. Altmire he was an American first, a representative second and a Democrat third. In the past, I have usually been on the opposite side of his positions, but in this case, I have a newfound respect.

This country is now running annual deficits in excess of $1 trillion and the Congress you so warmly support has found yet another entitlement paid for with new taxes and unwarranted cuts in Medicare ... typical liberal financial and fiscal inanity at its very best.

As for the future children for whom you are so concerned, a bankrupt country dancing at the end of strings pulled by our communist Chinese creditors is a much darker and chilling legacy by any standard one would choose to apply ... of that there is no reasonable debate.

LAWRENCE W. JACOBS
O'Hara


The 'me' ethic

In November 2009 a large percentage of people voted for a man who advocated a change for health care. Now, Rep. Jason Altmire tells us that in meetings, when he asked people if they were interested in insuring 31 million more, the answer was NO! So what changed? Last November the country was sliding into a depression, and visions of people losing everything ravaged our subconscious.

For many, maybe most, this was the first time a substantial threat was posed to them. My, how that changes one's outlook! Then the stimulus packages by Presidents Bush and Obama rescued us from the brink, and many of us felt safe again.

"To hell with others less fortunate. We've got ours and we're not supporting those other lazy bastards! Get the damned government out of health care and let my Medicare alone! Who needs government interference; we know we can trust corporations to do what's right."

What is most interesting is that many who hold such beliefs flaunt their religion. All religions teach love, generosity and support for the poor and the underdog. How do we rationalize our spiritual beliefs with our blatant selfishness?

Can we as a nation survive with the ethic of me rather than we?

JOHN BROBST
Bradford Woods


Fee for mail delivery

We do have an alternative to reducing the delivery days and increasing postage rates to solve the postal financial crisis ("Crushed, U.S. Mail Seeks Flexibility," March 2).

I, like many other post office box renters, cannot alleviate this shortfall alone. Most renters pay $44 per year for the small box; I pay $70 per year for the medium-size box.

We need the help of all who receive delivery at no charge. May I suggest that delivery be paid for through your income tax return? If you are not liable for any income tax, there is no charge.

I would suggest that home mail delivery fees be set at 60 cents per week for a total of $30 per year. That would be a good starting point.

CHARLES OCEPEK
Penn Township, Westmoreland County

The letter writer is a retired postmaster who served from 1951 to 1986.


Grateful for support

The community response to the recent fire at our workshop and flagship store in Grove City has been a tremendous encouragement to everyone employed by Wendell August Forge ("Region Rallies to Help Forge Reopen After Fire," March 12).

Words are not enough to express our appreciation and thanks to the many firefighters, individuals, companies and organizations that have reached out to us in so many ways.

We have been humbly reminded that the American spirit is alive and well and that we as a region and a nation rise up and help in any way possible when there is a need.

From the bottom of the hearts of everyone employed at Wendell August Forge in Grove City: Thank you for your outpouring of love and encouragement. It will never be forgotten and has been a beacon of hope as we strive to rebuild in Grove City as quickly as possible.

WILL KNECHT
President
Wendell August Forge
Grove City


Providers of hope

Thank you so much for Lynn Coghill's Perspectives piece "Forgotten Heroes of Social Work" (March 12). I have sent this article to my social work colleagues who struggle daily with the difficult and often overwhelming demands of this profession.

The article helps us to remember why we chose this type of work. If we can show the people we work with that we believe in them and provide them with the resources they need, they can effect change in their own lives and in their families and communities. Change is not possible without hope. Social workers provide hope.

ANNE CAMPBELL
Castle Shannon

The writer is a licensed social worker.


Bipartisanship needs its own grassroots movement

Kudos to the 11 Senate Republicans who voted in favor of the jobs bill ("Jobs Bill Passes With Bipartisan Support," March 18). This letter is not about the pros and cons of the jobs bill. It is about politicians finally having the nerve to cross the aisle to vote against the majority of their party.

The word bipartisan should not be a dirty word, but in today's politics, it is. We no longer elect strong, independent-minded politicians. We elect proxies. Is there research available that provides how many times each of our congressmen and -women have crossed the aisle to vote against the majority of their party? Then, we could start a grassroots campaign of Republicans supporting Democrats and Democrats supporting Republicans who have shown the courage to vote against party lines.

Maybe then we could again have a democracy that works. Who's in?

KEN EISNER
McCandless


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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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