Letters To The Editor

Posted: March 25, 1989


The City of Philadelphia can undertake a far more effective way of combatting racism in South Africa than supporting divestiture and boycotts.

Divestiture and boycotts will reduce the city to powerlessness. It will

put itself in a position where it cannot influence companies that do business with South Africa and cannot use them to pressure the government to change its policies.

To the extent that the stock the city sells and the business it provides are taken up by others who either don't care or perhaps even actively support apartheid, the city will have made the situation worse.

Divestiture and boycotts are like trying to win a game by walking off the field and putting in substitutes who either don't care about winning or who might even support the opposing team.

The city should instead actively seek to invest in those companies that do business in South Africa. It should then send representatives to stockholder meetings and instruct them to submit proposals, ask questions and generally

put strong pressure on management to follow hiring, promotion, sales and other business practices that will fight South African racism effectively.

George B. Roberts



While the city is obviously strapped for funds I do not think the citizens of Philadelphia mind shelling out the equivalent of a penny per year per person to maintain police dogs in their retirement.

I agree with Managing Director James White that little budget items do add up and every item should be scrutinized to see if it is really necessary, but this particular one - amounting to $13,500 per year to pay for the retired dogs' food and medical care - would stand up to anyone's cost-benefit analysis.

No city employee - including humans and horses - provides anywhere close to the return on investment that a dog does.

If the city feels the need to fund pensions for its human employees after they have served the city, then why should even more loyal and efficient employees be denied a "pension" after they retire?

Erik Hendricks


I found your March 15 article on the battle for Jalalabad, Afghanistan, excellent. I try to imagine the destruction and suffering there. The city was the site of my Peace Corps training and student teaching experience.

The Afghans were so hospitable and appreciative of the Peace Corps volunteer. Everyone knew me as "Meester." The city was full of orange groves, tea houses and mosques with quiet gardens from medieval times.

I wonder how fares the old gentleman who marked recess by banging the piece of metal with a rock. Zendabad Afghanistan! Long live Afghanistan!

John Barry



The March 19 report by Andrew Cassel from Appleton, Wis., about the John Birch Society moving there into Joe McCarthy country didn't tell the half of it.

Only incidentally (and posthumously) was John Birch "an American missionary killed in China in the late '40s." He was there, in fact, as Capt. John Birch, in command of an American OSS intelligence team attached to the U.S. 14th Air Force of Claire Chennault.

Accounts of OSS wartime operations in China record that on Aug. 25, 1945, Birch and his OSS team ran into a communist roadblock near Sian, in Communist territory. Birch challenged the armed teenage Chinese peasants in charge, and ordered his driver to crash the barrier. He was killed in the shooting that followed, not only an unnecessary, but an ignominious and stupid death.

Alexander Kendrick


There are many federally supported aid programs, tax deductions and tax credits. Included among them are aid to education, tobacco and farm subsidies, credit for child care and even a deduction for business related moving expenses.

All of these programs are paid for by all taxpayers, including those of us who are not farmers, tobacco growers or parents of young children.

Congress, in its wisdom, has now created yet another aid program, the Medicare catastrophic insurance program. But this program has a new twist. All taxpayers will not be paying the costs of this bill, rather those who are eligible for its benefits. On the face of it, one might ask, what's wrong with that? Taking this thought further, are we to expect the tobacco growers, farmers and parents to bear the full cost of their benefits? I think not.

It is planned for all Medicare recipients to pay a 15 percent surtax on their federal income tax for the catastrophic coverage and an increase to 28 percent is already in effect.

It is time for all those who are burdened with this blatantly discriminatory tax to speak out.

Robert L. Green



If news of Chilean grapes laced with cyanide caused you to gag while eating your Chilean fruit, then be aware that for some time thoughtful Americans have gagged at the mere thought of eating Chilean fruit, but for other reasons.

Despite the overwhelming repudiation of Gen. Augusto Pinochet by the Chilean people in the plebiscite of Oct. 5, repression continues under his dictatorship with arbitary arrests, torture at secret detention sites and death threats against those who defend political prisoners. There are 540 political prisoners with 15 of them on death row.

Chilean fruits that are now arriving on the market are loaded with pesticides and in addition were harvested and packed by workers who suffer extreme exploitation. They are compelled to work for $2 a day because union organization under the Pinochet dictatorship is prevented.

Leon D. Bosner



Within the last 10 years, the global warming named the "greenhouse effect" has become increasingly evident. The temperatures in the 1980s have been the highest in 130 years, 1988 being the highest. These consequences, as well as those concerning the deterioration of the ozone and the deforestation of the tropics, which also contribute to the greenhouse effect, have revealed our carelessness and disregard for nature.

Since the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800s, man has been living like a parasite, defacing the earth for his own benefit. Unfortunately, now the host is sick, and may eventually be too sick to inhabit.

We have to make up for the ignorance and irresponsibility of the past generations.

The most obvious step is to start treating our planet with the respect it deserves. The incessant pumping of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which also destroy ozone, and other greenhouse gases must cease or, more realistically, diminish. We must be weaned of some of the luxuries to which we've grown so attached, such as air conditioners and even refrigerators. Not only must we stop hacking down the tropics, but a certain degree of reforestation is also necessary.

Unfortunately, the first step is also the hardest. The people responsible for the deforestation probably won't like being deprived of their farms or ranches. And I'm sure that, as the summers continue to heat up, the average Joe will be quick to flip on his air conditioner.

How could we get past these initial problems? My suggestion is that Uncle Sam step in and start doing something.

The United States is the leading producer of carbon dioxide, the most prevalent greenhouse gas. If we reduce our production, it will help the world a lot, but us only a little. We should use this leverage to convince other countries to limit their production of greenhouse gases. Surely we can at least start passing bills in our own country. Maybe if we stop talking about it and take some action, eventually there won't be any need of the discussion.

Jon Mainardi


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