JoAnn Williams, Media
Not-so-funny campaign slogan
President Obama’s reelection team has been trying out its new slogan: “Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive.” There is no doubt that the tall, bearded one is kaput, but the GM salaried employees, shareholders, and bond holders, whose interests were killed in order to keep GM “alive” for the government to facilitate the hostile takeover by the United Auto Workers, might not find the slogan very amusing.
Jack Penders, Media
Obamas’ student loans
President Obama never said that he and his wife couldn’t pay back their student loans (“Real threat of students’ debt,” Wednesday). He said it took them until they were in their early 40s to do so, which means that they were paying them back all along. They didn’t start out earning “a quarter-million dollars a year.” They started small, like most college graduates do. And they started in a better job market than current graduates face. Student-loan debt is like a mortgage, which prevents many grads from getting an actual mortgage. That’s bad for the housing market, which is bad for the economy.
Nancy Rosman, Schwenksville, email@example.com
The advantages of capitalism
E.J Dionne’s portrayal of Mitt Romney as a barbarian capitalist libertarian is laughable (“Romney’s abiding faith in ‘magical capitalism,’” Monday). Romney’s past roles as a successful governor and a leader of the 2002 Winter Olympics clearly show him to be a consensus-forming reformer who rescues troubled governments and organizations from the inside.
Romney does have an abiding faith in the unique advantages of capitalism to create wealth and opportunity for the greatest number in society and a total disdain for the ability of government to perform as well. Given the recent track record of both, who could blame him? Google “government failure” and you’ll get many hits from the last three years alone. In the meantime, business has created trillions of dollars in fossil-fuel wealth, in addition to its daily miracles of feeding and clothing us all.
For capitalism and the greatest number of Americans to flourish, government needs to be smaller, less intrusive, and more competent.
Michael B. Hudson, Pottstown
The author of the letter “Taking daughters where?” (Tuesday) said, “Thanks to The Inquirer’s relentless cheerleading for the worst president of all time, most people have no work to take their daughters to on ‘Take Our Daughters to Work Day.’” I don’t remember The Inquirer’s relentless cheerleading for George W. Bush.
Thomas J. Lees, Lafayette Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org
Government can lower college costs
Jeff Jacoby is both right and wrong about government and college tuition (“College crisis made in Washington,” Tuesday).
He’s right when he says federal loans and guarantees of bank education loans have incentivized colleges to inflate tuitions dramatically. He rightly notes that colleges benefit, but students and the taxpaying public do not. He might have noted the bank beneficiaries, and could have called attention to the education bubble’s growth being akin to the housing bubble.
Jacoby is wrong when he intimates, as he clearly does with his libertarian language, that government, per se, is the problem. He wants government out, not redirected to actually keep college costs down. Cost reduction could be effected in an assortment of ways, especially by government funds being redirected — going only to colleges that lower tuition. Such an incentive would work to the benefit of students, and the education price bubble might only leak instead of bursting all over us as the housing bubble did.
Government’s subsidizing of banks and inflating tuition is the problem. Government incentivizing affordable education is the solution.
Don DeMarco, Philadelphia, email@example.com
Student-loan time bomb
The editorial “Take the right road to keep college interest rates low” (Saturday) says, “Congress should extend lower interest rates now set on federally subsidized student loans.” This means student loans guaranteed by U.S. taxpayers. As The Inquirer has noted in recent articles, the debt students have is getting out of hand and their ability to repay is not good due to the current job market. The probability of major student-loan default is a time bomb ready to explode in the face of taxpayers.
The Inquirer seems to think that it is a good idea to extend the student loan rates by yet another special tax. After the Solyndra and General Services Administration scandals, can anyone really believe that it is a good idea to give this corrupt bureaucracy more money? Republicans in Congress also seem to think it is a good idea to extend the low student-loan interest rate and pay for it by taking money from Obamacare. That’s not a good idea either, but at least everyone would be forced back to square one once the Supreme Court declares Obamacare unconstitutional.
The long-term answer is that the federal government needs to get out of the student-loan business. At least then, no president could make it part of election-year politics.
Joe Bowers, Phoenixville, firstname.lastname@example.org
Save city infrastructure
There is no doubt that a retaining-wall collapse was imminent, but the excuse of an emergency to justify destroying century-old infrastructure to put an aesthetically unpleasing Band-Aid on the wall hardly counts for superhero status (“Averting a washout on Lincoln Drive,” April 26). Fixing the century-old stone wall could have been done with much less expensive regular maintenance over the last half-century, as opposed to the complete neglect that resulted in a major capital project.
This same scenario is playing out across the city with frightening frequency. Just look at the stone walls lining the Schuylkill or the city’s school buildings for clear yet disparate examples of our collective inability to maintain infrastructure and hard-fought improvements that were handed down to us by our predecessors.
I, too, am happy that we will not have to fish motorists out of Monoshone Creek, but the real heroes are those who perform preventive maintenance on our parks’ infrastructure, such as the Friends of the Wissahickon, since the city apparently lacks the imagination to see the value in that reasonable and pragmatic practice.
Morris Zimmerman, Philadelphia, email@example.com