Letters To The Editor

Posted: June 24, 1990


This letter is in response to the June 15 editorial "Luring the rich."

I have lived in Philadelphia all my life and currently own a home in the Oxford Circle area. When my wife and I bought our house, nobody offered us tax ''abatements" or any other "incentives" to buy there. Basically, we bought what we could afford and still be able to live and eat.

I have followed this topic of "abatements" for special real estate projects with amazement. Knowing that occupancy is always better for an area than vacancy, also safer, I am still shocked that the city would give in to the real estate developers regarding the tax abatements. If I'm not mistaken, the business of business is business - free enterprise! Capitalism has proved to be the most resilient system our world knows, also the more effective.

No one ever made any guarantees that every business would succeed or that every business was owed a certain amount of profits on its investment and work. Real estate is a speculative venture anyway, no matter where it is. If these developers need incentives, let them lower the selling prices of the properties or lower their profit margins. After all, tax abatements and the other "incentives" requested by the developers are a form of socialism, and socialism is definitely not good business. Besides, the city can't afford these "incentives" at this time.

Let us keep it simple: Lower the prices and people will buy these properties. Let the city give welfare to the truly needy.

Timothy Lynch



I object strongly to the statement, in your June 15 editorial regarding tax breaks for buyers of new housing, that Philadelphia needs all the rich people it can get. Your assumption that we need more rich people to buy new condos, pay taxes, patronize local restaurants and retailers is a silly Reaganism that your reporters have discredited repeatedly.

If anything, rich people pay far fewer taxes than the middle class. While they may go to eat occasionally, they have a bigger budget for lawyers, accountants and politicians who keep their tax bills low.

Philadelphia has people who care enough about the city to pay taxes. We have local merchants whose employees know the meaning of the word service, who stock goods at reasonable prices that people in this city need, not mass- marketed suburban mall junk. We have inexpensive, innovative restaurants where a family can eat in comfort. And we have plenty of room for more of the above.

The last thing the city needs is new "luxury" condos. We have several square miles of deteriorated housing that should be rebuilt first. Offer huge tax breaks to developers who renovate old buildings, and even bigger breaks to buyers willing to enhance marginal neighborhoods by moving into them and improving them.

Consider doubling the taxes on residences that are vacant for more than a year. Maybe this will compel speculators to be less greedy. Triple the taxes on shells and uninhabitable structures. Put a tax on nonresident landlords, too. A neighborhood suffers when its property owners live out of town.

If rich people want to enjoy our city, they should pay the same price as everyone else, and do so willingly.

Bill Kent


The headline screams, "Flag burning is not a crime"! Of course not. It's just a stupidity.

It's the exercise of a feeble intellect and has all the charm and social value of watching the village idiot urinating in the middle of the street.

And it fits right in with all the other freedoms expected in this land of the free and home of the brave, and if they keep multiplying some day we'll have bedlam.

Mary Lee Haw

West Grove, Chester County


What is more un-American? Wearing a swastika and belonging to the Nazi Party? Wearing a white robe and mask and being a member of the KKK? Burning a cross? Burning the flag?

Flag burners, ignorant as they may be, are exercising their constitutional rights.

In Nazi Germany, what would have happened to the German citizen who disagreed with the swastika as a symbol for his or her country? What would have happened to that individual who burned that swastika? He or she would have been put in a political camp, and we know what happened there.

Our so-called leaders should fix the economy, education, infrastructure, cure AIDS and not create more divisive issues to divide and conquer the citizenry of the United States.

Any elected official who would threaten to blackmail his contemporaries by commercials depicting those in disagreement on the flag-burning issue as non- American should be impeached and never again allowed to hold public office.

S. Lance Silver



I gather that it could become a crime to desecrate or deface the flag. It seems that it would be important to define what a flag is.

One of our country's largest organizations prints full-color representations of the flag, which it then sells.

After they are sold, the manufacturer-seller systematically and purposely defaces the flag images it has sold.

Who else but the Postal Service?

I. M. Karabell


For the past several weeks you have devoted much space on your Editorial and Commentary Pages to promoting "merit selection" of appellate judges in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives demonstrated the good sense to reject overwhelmingly this "elitist selection" plan. The citizens of our state deserve to retain this right to elect state appellate judges because these public officials have improperly assumed powers to make public policy in many areas.

Your passion became so intense on this issue that you totally abandoned any attempt at fairness or balance on the Commentary Page, as you published many articles in favor of "merit selection" without ever running a single article against it. Your bias reached its peak and transformed into brazen hypocrisy on June 10 when you published the article by Superior Court Judge Phyllis Beck.

Judge Beck wrote against allowing judicial candidates to speak their views on public issues. She emphasized the need for judges to be neutral and not to pre-judge cases.

I am outraged but not surprised that you selected Judge Beck to lecture your readers on the merits of judges' being neutral and unbiased. I am not surprised because Judge Beck is an example of the militantly pro-abortion judges with whom you and other supporters of "merit selection" wish to pack our state's appellate courts.

I agree that the recent vote in the Pennsylvania House is only an opening round in a lengthy battle involving "merit selection." I hope, nevertheless, that our state legislators continue to reject any attempt to turn over our state appellate courts to the elitist and strongly pro-abortion organizations such as the Pennsyvlania Bar Association and The Inquirer.

Michael J. McMonagle

Pro-Life Coalition of Southeastern Pennsylvania

Roslyn, Montgomery County


We have reached a new low in American life when our electorate judges a candidate for public office not on his or her ability or experience but whether the person is for or against abortion.

John S. Hill

Pottsville, Pa.


In answer to the question posed by David R. Boldt on June 17 Commentary Page ("Would it be better if 'homeless' were called 'vagrants'?"): yes!

We everyday, common, ordinary citizens lack a platform to express exactly what you have written. It is more and more discouraging to see words coined to

obscure the truth.

Even clear language is stretched by those educated to know better. For example, the Supreme Court has already destroyed the Bill of Rights by stretching the meaning of simple words like speech and press. Yet, almost every editorial and news columnist avoids the real issue and shouts that an amendment to protect the flag would destroy the First Amendment.

Thanks for expressing a contrary view to the party line of those who try to manipulate the truth.

Charles Fries

Mechanicsburg, Pa.


Once again a civilian with a military-style assault weapon has opened fire on his fellow citizens, obliterating eight lives - nine including his own - and wounding at least five other people.

And once again last month, the two gentlemen who represent Pennsylvania in the Senate chose to continue to put innocent citizens at risk by siding with the National Rifle Association, this time by voting not to ban semiautomatic assault weapons in America.

Fortunately, senators concerned for public safety prevailed - barely - with the result that the Biden crime bill now being debated in the Senate does contain a provision to bar the importation of five foreign-made assault weapons and the manufacture of four domestic types, the weapons now increasingly preferred by drug dealers, street gangs and hate groups, a kind of weapon presently available almost for the asking by almost anyone in America.

But Arlen Specter and John Heinz opposed this provision. Could their nay votes be somehow related to NRA money? Since 1983, the NRA has given $5,000 to Sen. Heinz and spent a whopping $110,000 on behalf of Sen. Specter.

Peggy Anderson


David R. Boldt's June 17 column suggested that the English language has ''declined to the point where it damages policy." In support of that suggestion, Mr. Boldt suggests that we should call homeless persons ''vagrants."

This suggestion is outrageous. Unlike other examples mentioned by Mr. Boldt (for instance, "post-traumatic stress syndrome" for "shell shock"), homeless is a simple, straightforward English word that everyone can understand. How much more direct can we be?

Vagrant, on the other hand, carries a great deal of baggage that is inapplicable to many homeless people.

Mr. Boldt's suggestion that our public policy should be based on viewing all homeless persons as vagrants would lead us far afield from sensible policy. It would totally ignore the social and economic policies that have eliminated housing affordable by the working poor. Where in the Delaware Valley is there housing where a minimum-wage worker can afford to live?

No one suggests that homeless should be used to cover up the fact that some homeless persons are drug addicts, alcoholics or thieves. Homeless persons who fall in those categories should be treated appropriately, but that goal is not advanced by calling all homeless persons vagrants.

By all means let us call a spade a spade and avoid euphemism. But let us not, in the name of avoiding euphemisms, brand people with insulting terms that are not accurate.

If Mr. Boldt is truly concerned about euphemisms, he should read his own masthead. There he trumpets: "The Philadelphia Inquirer: An Independent Newspaper." Independent of what? Not of Philadelphia's other daily newspaper, which is under the same ownership. Not of dozens of other newspapers around the country, which are also owned by Knight-Ridder Inc., one of America's largest newspaper publishers. Not of the corporate establishment. Knight- Ridder is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and, of course, its newspapers are totally dependent on corporate advertising.

Perhaps The Inquirer is claiming to be independent of the government. If that is true of The Inquirer, it is equally true of every other newspaper in the country. Therefore, the phrase "an independent newspaper" is essentially meaningless.

If Mr. Boldt wants to eliminate doublespeak, euphemism, jargon and gobbledygook, let him start with his own masthead. When he does that, at least we'll believe he's sincere.

William H. Ewing

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