Steve Chapman contends that the biggest shortcoming of the Democratic Party is its "insatiable urge to meddle," an assumption that government can solve all problems in society ("Obama's no socialist, but . . ." commentary, Wednesday). But he fails to consider the other party. It doesn't want to meddle - except for hot-button social issues. Judging from history, as well as recent economic history, the lack of oversight and regulation have nearly ruined the world economy. The pure capitalist mantra has been nothing short of disastrous. If the government didn't meddle, we would have a nation without Social Security, educational grants, civil rights, voting rights, environmental protections, and many more positive programs. Bad government makes things worse, not good ideas and talented men and women working for change.
Ronald P. Smolin
Congress is currently debating two painful and unwinnable courses of action for the American auto industry: bailing out the companies or doing nothing and letting them fail. I would like to propose a third course that would both help the auto industry and encourage fuel conservation.
Give buyers of cars made or assembled in the United State a tax credit based on the average miles-per-gallon rating for any model that meets or exceeds 30 m.p.g. A 40-m.p.g. rating would rate a 40 percent tax credit, a 50-m.p.g. rating would get a 50 percent credit, and so on.
Your editorials last Monday ("Cut legislature first" and "City government is too big") are to be commended. The welfare states embodied by the Pennsylvania state legislature and City of Philadelphia are alive and well. Neither Gov. Rendell nor Mayor Nutter show any willingness to cut services and employees in a meaningful way. Both the city and the state know how to tax; unfortunately, they do not know how to manage a budget, other than raising taxes.
Mentoring on rise
We beg to differ with Douglas Pike's claim that "the mentoring establishment is in retreat" ("Mentor young America? The answer is yes, we can," commentary, Nov. 21). Here in Philadelphia, Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA has shown precisely the dramatic growth that Pike calls for. Just six years ago, we had 1,200 volunteer mentors in one-to-one mentoring relationships, and in 2008, more than 4,000 of our adult mentors will be matched with at-risk children in Philadelphia, Montgomery, Delaware and Chester counties. Still, as the largest one-to-one youth mentoring organization in our region, we know dramatic growth in the number of mentors helping children takes more than the willingness of people to volunteer. It also takes money - money that provides the professional support needed to screen, create, and support each and every relationship between a mentor and a child.
Marlene L. Olshan
Big Brothers Big Sisters
This has been the worst year, financially, my family has had in nearly two decades. It will, therefore, be a very trim Christmas. It is our favorite holiday, so we will still celebrate with a tree and decorations, but there will be obvious adjustments. The gluttony of gifts we've had under the tree in the past will be replaced by modest, well-thought-out, practical ones. My give-to list has also been trimmed. Sorry, co-workers, hairdresser, mail carrier and second cousins. To everyone, though, we will send our sincere wishes for a warm and wonderful holiday season and a more prosperous new year for all.