Letters to the editor
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In the June 16 article "Rendell: Raise Income Tax," the Post-Gazette reports that Gov. Ed Rendell would like to raise $1.5 billion in new income taxes to cover the state budget deficit. He promises that, as with other times in Pennsylvania history, the tax increase will remain in place, this time for three years, then revert back to the original rate.
After my laughter subsided over the "Trust me, I'm from the government" tone of the governor's premise, I realized the real genius in the plan.
I now realize that based on this example, if I mismanage my personal finances, I can ask my employer for a raise that lasts three years then goes away to make up for my deficit spending. Or maybe I can simply tell my mortgage company that for the next three years I am not going to pay the full mortgage to ensure my checkbook balances each month. I'm sure they would understand, right?
Mr. Rendell, if your budget is off by $1.5 billion, reduce your spending. You can not tell me with a straight face that there is not an opportunity to reduce duplicative wasteful spending in the state.
If you can't do it, then give me your job for three years and I will. I promise to give it right back. Honest!
Upper St. Clair
Gov. Ed Rendell is barking up the wrong tree if he thinks the population of Pennsylvania will sit idly by while our elected representatives in Harrisburg try to add another 0.5 percentage point to our income tax. In this economy, what he should be espousing is the privatization of the liquor business (finally) and a reduction in our income taxes.
It's 2009 -- when will Harrisburg wake up? By the way, when are we going to see the property tax reduction we were promised when the slots legislation was passed?
Concerning Gov. Ed Rendell's proposal of a 0.5 percentage point income tax rise:
Does Mr. Rendell see what happened to California? Are we doomed to follow its footsteps? Just a small increase of tax here, there and everywhere.
People are struggling to make ends meet because of the lagging economy and he wants a temporary 0.5 percentage point increase in personal income tax. When did anything that was a temporary tax ever stay temporary? Why can't they just adjust their spending the way we have to do when we don't have the money to do otherwise.
And people of Pennsylvania -- do not complain about his actions -- remember, you voted for him even though he wasn't any different during his first term.
Nancy Wikert's letter ("Robo Nuisance," May 25) really struck a raw nerve. Unfortunately, robocalls have become a cheap, easy way for public servants to connect with voters in a vain attempt to get out the vote. These calls last about 30 seconds, which means Ms. Wikert spent more time writing the letter to the editor than she did answering five calls.
But what is really most incredible is the attitude that there should be a law against them -- because she is interrupted, because she thinks it's obnoxious for a candidate to ask for her vote.
Only an estimated two in 10 voters showed up to vote in the primary, so it seems that Ms. Wikert is not the only one who resents having to "stop what [she] is doing" to listen to political messages. There were many candidates on this ballot, and the consequences of not voting didn't appear high. Who cares who becomes a judge? Who cares who appears on the ballot for mayor, or county council or school board?
When did it become OK to be apolitical? When did every public servant become a politician, a person to be scorned? When did anything become more important than making sure a voter understood the issues and what made the candidates worthy public servants? When did it become acceptable not to vote?
Memorial Day and Veterans Day are usually within days of the elections. Those brave souls who sacrificed for us deserve more than a parade, the flags and a thank you. They deserve good public servants -- and concerned voters who remember the duty we have to one another.
The writer is a member of the Mt. Lebanon Democratic Committee.
Regarding reporter Joe Smydo's story " 'Whaling' Away Bad Behavior" (June 8):
Pittsburgh Schaeffer K-8's Primary Campus in Crafton Heights is receiving much deserved attention for its new policy of reinforcing good behavior and refraining from punishing bad behavior. However, one of the primary quantifiers of Schaeffer's success is the fact that it has gone from "more than 100 suspensions for bad behavior" in 2006-07 to merely 10 this school year.
Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but isn't there bound to be a significant decrease in suspensions (and punishments of all sorts) if the school has issued a policy of ignoring, or at least not actively punishing, bad behavior?
I'd be interested to know how many cases there were this year that could have merited suspension or some other form of punishment, had the school been willing to administer it.
Abuse of power
U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan will go down in legal history along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales as prime examples of what political hacks with an ax to grind can do when the resources and power of the U.S. Justice Department are compromised to settle political scores and to punish honest, decent citizens whose only "crime" is to publicly disagree with their extremist political agendas.
It is abuse of power at the highest federal level, and Buchanan should immediately resign so the U.S. attorney's office here in Western Pennsylvania can get back to the business of protecting our citizens, not harassing them.
DAVID S. PADAWER
With the first ever federal global warming bill out of committee, Americans have a historic opportunity to move forward in the transition to alternative energies. The bill lays groundwork that will create millions of jobs, providing a much-needed boon to our faltering economy.
With such practical and common-sense benefits, it seems obvious that this bill will finally end the decade-long wait for progressive action toward a respectable environmental policy in the world community. So, one can only wonder what Rep. Tim Murphy was thinking when he voted against the bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Perhaps he knows that Pennsylvania is the third-largest contributor to global warming pollution, behind only Texas and California, and didn't want to upset the "status quo." Perhaps he was enamored by the millions of dollars spent on more than 2,000 lobbyists by oil companies to keep the cash flowing.
Whatever the reason, Rep. Murphy should know that his constituents have the common sense to support this bill, and that he will face them directly as he tries to explain away his lack of foresight in voting against a historic and obviously beneficial bill.
Obama's ban on forest roads is a mistake
Adam Smith, the world's first economist, pointed out that there is no wealth until someone takes something from the earth, makes something from it and sells it to someone else. That, rather elegantly stated, points out the concept that raw materials, agriculture, timber, mining and drilling are the foundation of any economy.
Considering that we are in the worst economic downturn since Jimmy Carter, President Barack Obama's decision to put national forest resources out of bounds by banning new road construction in those forests, and this paper's applauding that action ("Timely Ban," June 3 editorial) is nothing but stupid. Jobs in mining, timbering and drilling are good, high-paying (often union) jobs.
Wilderness is not all it is cracked up to be. Life in the wilderness is "cruel, brutish and short." Roads into the wilderness first used for timber mining or drilling eventually provide access into "pristine" areas for hikers, hunters, fishermen and off-road vehicles. The commercial use of the roads is rarely more than a few years, and the Forest Service has rather strict regulations on construction methods for long-term protection of the environment.
CRAIG B. CLEMMENS
First Published June 19, 2009 12:00 am