Philadelphia planners have never created a successful public space. It is the citizens, by the way they live, work, spend, homestead, build, and redevelop, who create successful public spaces.
Bernard J. Nearey
Pointing out denial of fiscal bankruptcy
Three cheers for Charles Krauthammer for bringing to light the blatant public denial of what, essentially, is the fiscal bankruptcy of Social Security's trust fund ("A fortune in federal IOUs," Monday).
As Krauthammer rightly points out, the fund's "special issue bonds" (IOUs) are nothing more than intragovernmental bonds. They are not publicly held U.S. Treasury bonds, which are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, as we are being led to believe by the Obama administration. Intragovernemtal bonds simply represent money that the left hand owes to the right hand.
There is only one pot from which the government draws its operating funds, and when push comes to shove on Social Security, as it will, the money will not be there.
The reality of Social Security
The letter from an economics professor ("Basic economics of Social Security," Wednesday) focused on theory rather than reality. To date, more Social Security taxes have been collected than paid out in benefits. We would be in good shape if this "surplus" had been invested in a savings account.
Unfortunately, the "surplus" has been spent. It is analogous to the New Jersey transportation and unemployment funds, where taxes collected for one purpose were diverted and not available when needed.
Borrowing in the open market to fund the Social Security gap is an option, but it will increase our unsustainable national debt burden. This does not appear to be a good approach to me.
Ignoring violence is dangerous
Two weeks ago, Palestinian terrorists brutally murdered a family of five. On Wednesday, a terrorist bomb in the heart of Jerusalem killed a woman and wounded dozens of others ("Bomb explodes in Jerusalem," Thursday). And this year, Hamas terrorists armed and financed by Iran have already fired 147 mortars and rockets at Israeli towns and villages - more than double last year's rate of attacks.
Ignoring these developments is dangerous. In December 2008, Israel was forced to launch a large military operation to protect its citizens, who had been terrorized by thousands of Hamas rocket attacks. No one wants to see a repetition of these events.
The United Nations and the international community should increase pressure on Iran to stop arms smuggling to terrorists in Gaza and cease its genocidal threats against Israel.
Gadhafi reads U.S. signals
Although I agree with Stephen Hadley's assessment of President Obama's missed opportunity in Libya, his solution was vague at best ("A missed opportunity?" Friday). What the United States should have done when Moammar Gadhafi was on the ropes was exactly what the Europeans did: Send warships to get their people out of Libya. The United States sent a ferryboat.
That signaled to the Libyan leader that the United States was not going to support the rebels or intervene, allowing Gadhafi to fight back, as have other leaders facing protesters in Bahrain, and Yemen.
We may eventually oust Gadhafi, but we could have avoided the present mess. If we had sent a couple of warships to begin with, as the French and British did, Gadhafi could have been given a helicopter and safe passage to a resort in Saudi Arabia.
How LCB is like the private sector
"We've endeavored to create a world-class retail operation that is best of class," Liquor Control Board Chairman Patrick J. "P.J." Stapleton III said at a hearing last week ("Update but don't privatize, LCB says," Wednesday). Has Stapleton visited the State Store on Fairmount Avenue recently?
The LCB does seem to mimic the private sector in one regard. There's a lot more attention paid to the store on Chestnut Street than to the store in North Philadelphia.