And now I am struck by an unfavorable comparision with another great city. The New York Times on Feb. 4 published a four-column article from San Francisco, which opened, "Instead of just single-mindedly fighting the proposed closing of five Bay Area naval bases, local officials here are also considering how to accomplish the historic task of converting to a peacetime economy with the least immediate pain and the most long-range promise."
In contrast, what do we see in Philadelphia when we are confronted with the possibility of the closing of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard? Just a knee- jerk, totally negative reaction, from our senators right on down. I haven't heard a word in the press about the kind of comparative studies reported in San Francisco.
Wake up and smell the flowers, Philadelphia.
JOBS AREN'T THE ISSUE
Your Feb. 4 article on the Boeing V-22 Osprey helicopter-plane needs to be viewed from a different perspective. It is not the function of the Defense Department to guarantee jobs for those who work in the related industries. There are very few people whose jobs are guaranteed. My job is not.
The full cost of the Osprey order is $25 billion. In light of the federal deficit, deteriorating transportation and educational systems, how on earth can we justify the building of faster helicopters?
STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND ACT
On arrival in Philadelphia ten years ago I believed what I read about its being one of the most livable cities in the United States. How things have changed the last five years, and all for the worse.
Mayor Goode must never walk the streets of Center City when he says he is unaware of "any increased crime in Center City." Is he not aware of the muggings, robberies, smashed storefronts, rampant vandalism to public property and offensive panhandling? The rapidly deteriorating quality of life for those of us living in Center City is appalling.
For a mayor who says he is committed to public safety and public cleanliness, it's about time he made good on his responsibility as chief executive. The usual "limited resources" alibi is no excuse for lack of leadership.
Lawrence S. Driever
CUOMO ISN'T ALONE
Recently Roman Catholic Bishop Austin Vaughan, from his jail cell in Albany, N.Y., reminded New York Gov. Mario Cuomo that he is taking "a very serious risk of going to hell" for his strongly pro-abortion actions.
One wonders if Philadelphia Catholic politician Billy Meehan has reflected on the meaning, for him, of Bishop Vaughan's admonition. Mr. Meehan is backing openly pro-abortion Barbara Hafer for the Republican nomination as governor.
Quo vadis, Mr. Meehan?
Joseph P. Wall
UNWORTHY OF THEIR OWN STATE
The vicious and inhuman attack with grenades and machine guns against an Israeli tourist bus in Egypt reveals once again the complete disregard certain Arab groups have for innocent civilian life, be it Jewish or Palestinian. The Islamic Jihad in the West Bank claimed responsibility for the murder of 10 Israelis adding to the dozens already murdered by Palestinians in the recent past.
In the last few months almost 200 Palestinians have been murdered by other Palestinians in the West Bank only because they may have "collaborated" with Israelis. No courts. No trials. Only murder sentences. This is Palestinian justice.
Where is the condemnation for these brutal acts by Egypt's Hosni Mubarak or the Palestine Liberation Organization's Yasir Arafat or any Arab leader? Should Israel feel comfortable negotiating for another Arab state in the West Bank with peoples who have made murder an acceptable form of discourse? Palestinians have murdered our ambassador to Sudan, 11 Israeli Olympic athletes in Munich, 21 children in Maalot, Israel, 16 Jews on an Israeli bus, and the list goes on and on. Should we reward these murders with a PLO state?
The PLO and Palestinians are not yet ready to live in peace with and truly accept Israel's right to exist. In fact, recently PLO Foreign Minister Farouk Kaddoumi said that, unlike his boss, Mr. Arafat, he did not accept Israel's right to exist and that "what we accept today, we will not accept tomorrow," lending fuel to the argument that a two-state compromise would only be a stepping stone to the eventual destruction of Israel.
With their track record, the Palestinians must bend over backward to prove to the Israelis they have nothing to fear. Instead, they continue to prove to the Israelis that they still have everything to fear.
Morton A. Klein
WHINE, WHINE, WHINE
Oh brother! Another whining yuppie (Jay A. Mattlin, Commentary Page, Feb. 2).
On whom would he like to place the blame for his pessimism and society's ills, crime, drugs, AIDS, etc.? May I suggest he look to his own "me" generation.
Maybe instead of wasting time surveying second graders about the sad state of the world, he should get a "real" job doing his part to continue the prosperity that we have enjoyed since the depression. We of the older generations are about ready to put down some of the burden we've been carrying and enjoy the bright future we have earned for ourselves through our hard work. Is there anyone out there ready to pick up the load?
EDUCATION NEEDS TRUE PRIORITY
David Boldt is right, our educational system is failing everyone, but the system is the product of our society ("Even America's best and brightest aren't all that good," Commentary Page, Feb. 4). Unless there are major changes in society itself it is unlikely that education will improve.
Students don't do well today because there is no pressure to perform. Homework has ceased to exist, failure is rare. No matter how low your SAT scores, there is a school somewhere that will accept you and a government agency that will lend you the money to go.
Funds spent on education are being dissipated on all kinds of superfluous studies. There are women's studies, gay studies, black studies, studies of the effect of soap operas on modern life, studies of the lifestyle of single men. A local high school has kids spending time helping out in a soup kitchen.
These are areas worthy of attention, but not until subjects like chemistry, creative writing, grammar, algebra and geometry have been mastered. The emphasis must be on the three R's, and if there is time left over for other things, OK.
The point is, more money is not the answer. A fundamental change in society is required. Somehow we must summon up the courage to say no to week-night jobs, automobiles and spring breaks in Fort Lauderdale and yes to discipline, responsibility and hard work.
But this is unlikely. We can pack school board meetings when something like equal athletic facilities for women, or the right of students to write anything they want in the school paper, is being discussed. But there's a lack of interest when things like course content, the grading system or teacher qualifications are on the agenda.
The energy and leadership required to change the educational system are being used for more exciting things like animal rights, saving the environment, abortion, etc. These are noble efforts, but just as there are limits on how much money is available there are limits on human energy and leadership resources. We have to define our priorities.