Letters to the editor
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Nevermore ... I was one of U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire's early supporters, making hundreds of calls and canvassing -- going up the long driveways in the North Hills, putting out his signs and helping to get him elected when not many people thought he had a chance to win. I have a signed letter of appreciation.
Nevermore ... He would be much more believable if he hadn't accepted the $337,000 that the health services industry contributed to his campaign.
Nevermore ... Mr. Altmire offers many changing reasons why he can't support this health-care bill. He says his district does not support this bill (" 'My District Isn't There,' He Says, for Bill's Costs, Tax Hikes," Nov. 11) or that it doesn't make needed reforms and is too expensive, or that it puts too much of a burden on small business.
If he truly wanted a solution to the problems he describes, why isn't he aggressively supporting a single-payer approach like others in Congress? And I haven't heard that he has made any proposals to make it better. So, if he has his way, the cost of insurance will rise again and again, and tens of thousands will continue to be or will become uninsured. The insurance industry will be very happy.
How is he better than any Republican in this district? When the next campaign comes, I will have many hours to rest my 77-year-old body because I won't be working for Mr. Altmire.
Has he read Rand?
In response to Reg Henry's Nov. 11 column "Who Spawned All These Nuts? Ayn Rand," I would like to offer a countering perspective. If Mr. Henry thinks that Ms. Rand is noteworthy for her "literary charms," he has more than likely not read her work. It's some of the most dense, windy and tedious prose I have ever seen.
The reason that Ms. Rand is still noteworthy today is because readers rarely find literature with the message that individual rights and entrepreneurship fuel successful free societies. Black-and-white terms like "greed is good" are shortsighted and inflammatory. But if Mr. Henry wants to see things in black and white, here is some black and white from an opposing perspective: Keeping your own money isn't called greed; it's called the right to property. Paying, yourself, for the individual services you purchase isn't called greed; it's called a transaction. The purpose of government isn't to provide social safety nets; it's to protect individual rights. And none of this is from Ms. Rand; it's from John Locke.
I don't care about robber barons or Ayn Rand or calling Barack Obama a socialist. I just know that the government that overtaxes and taxes disproportionately for the "greater good" is the government that fines you for noncrimes like texting while driving and neglecting to wear a seatbelt, or puts you on a watch list for phoning the Middle East.
I would urge Mr. Henry to consider the necessity of first-generation human rights (life, liberty, property) to a free society and to oppose legislation that erodes them, regardless of the good-natured intent.
ANDREW W. MILLER
A mayor for them
Under Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Pittsburgh has gained much media attention as "America's most livable city." He also claims to have made great strides in Pittsburgh's economic growth. If we listened only to him, Pittsburgh might seem to be a paradise. But this is not the case. Regardless of these so-called strides, we have thousands of residents in dire poverty. Even basic human necessities such as food are not a sure thing in "America's most livable city."
As a social work intern at Just Harvest, a South Side-based nonprofit that helps people apply for food stamps, I have seen this firsthand. Our applications for food stamps have more than doubled in the past year. According to the Department of Public Welfare, in September, Allegheny County food stamp participation went up for the 26th consecutive month. In Allegheny County alone, more than 134,000 people rely on food stamps to fill their pantries and refrigerators.
I challenge you, Mr. Ravenstahl, to serve your first full term as mayor for these people. Serve for the residents who cannot afford to pay for food and housing in the country's "most livable city." Serve for the elderly, the single mothers, the working families who must decide between food and rent. Serve for the homeless who can afford neither. You have claimed your dedication to Pittsburgh. Now, prove your dedication to Pittsburgh's most important resource: its residents.
ACORN is an organization that has devoted itself to helping the poor.
It has helped them in obtaining loans, in getting better housing and in finding jobs. It has helped them maintain the right to vote in spite of efforts of some Republicans to create bureaucratic barriers. Recently it was revealed that some ACORN workers had advised a client to violate the law. No harm was done since the "client" was a right-wing agent pretending to be a poor person. As a consequence of this, Congress voted to deprive ACORN of any federal funding.
In contrast to this case we have the bankers who have devoted themselves solely to getting rich. To accomplish this they engaged in fraudulent activities that led to millions of people losing their homes. The reaction of Congress was to give the banks billions of dollars, some of which were given to the bankers as bonuses.
What explains the difference in the reaction of Congress in these two cases? The answer is simple. The real crime of ACORN was that it spent all its funds helping poor people, and so it had no money left for huge campaign contributions.
Roles and sexism
While many reject "feminism" as an obsolete f-word, the ideology is positive and relevant in that it is concerned with liberating women -- and, by implication, men -- from roles that still incarcerate both. We Americans stubbornly insist that women are sex objects and that men are to solve their problems through violence. Both of these roles are connected to sexism, especially sexism against women.
A feminism renaissance, properly conducted, would liberate women and men alike from these old roles that have played a major part in men clinging to violence as a solution.
When women are oppressed, so are men, and people get killed. A feminism renaissance could reduce shootings.
REV. DR. DAVID von SCHLICHTEN
His leadership style
After approximately 10 months in office, has Barack Obama shown himself to be a leader?
Without a doubt! He has shown himself to be a cheer-leader!
HERBERT S. MAZEROV
Now is the time to correct Pennsylvania's taxation mess
Judge R. Stanton Wettick's ruling on Nov. 10 does not meet the state Supreme Court test for uniformity of property assessments ("County Real Estate Review Ordered," Nov. 11). It is further evidence that all real estate taxes must be replaced for one simple fact: Assessments cannot in a timely manner (nor a reasonable cost to taxpayers) be updated countywide annually to maintain uniformity.
The Post-Gazette notes that the new county assessments would not apply to county taxes until all four regional reassessments were completed over four years. Thus, assessments performed in 2010 will be 4 years old by 2014 when finally applied to county taxes. Subsequent year assessments will be 3 and 2 years old by 2014. How will three-fourths of the county assessments meet the 1980 decision ending the triennial by-region reassessment process that was upheld by the state Supreme Court? They cannot. Taxpayers should not expect to spend another $25 million to $30 million for another illegal Allegheny County assessment.
Now is the time to stop trying to fix an ancient, outdated, costly and unfair method of local taxation. It is time for the Legislature to replace all local real estate taxes with a mix of income and sales taxes. For example, all local real estate taxes can be replaced by three additional lines at the end of the PA-1040 with replacement percentages for each municipality, school district and county. At a minimum, Pennsylvania could make this change for only second-class counties (Allegheny) and try it in one county before making a statewide change.
Let's move Pennsylvania taxation into the 21st century, now!
First Published November 20, 2009 12:00 am