WITH Mayor Nutter stating that there's going to be a $1 billion budget gap over the next five years, coupled with Philadelphia's 7.2 percent unemployment rate, it's safe to say we are in a crisis.

The city needs to look toward alternative labor markets. One that is looking beneficial is "green-collar" jobs.

Making solar panels, using more recyclables and anything the city can do to "go green" will not only make the environment healthier, it will create jobs for the blue-collar worker that our city is known for and has lost in recent years.

We need to look at green-collar work for our men and women to get back into the labor market to revitalize our city!

Nicholas Hargreaves, Wallingford

I have to laugh at Thomas Lutek's Dec. 9 letter.

I'm sure, on occasion, that we all say or do something completely ridiculous only to wish we hadn't. This moron goes a step further by putting it in print.

He actually equates the importance of libraries and fire stations with the Mummers parade. I guess to him the three most important things in life are the access to books, the safety of our loved ones, and strumming banjos (you can never tire of "Golden Slippers").

Here are two words I never thought I'd see in the same sentence: "Mummers" and "discrimination," but Lutek has managed the impossible. Are you kidding me? Discrimination? That's a word best reserved for an issue with some relevance.

Finally he ends his idiotic passage with a threat to move the parade to another city and take its tourism with them. The last time I checked, tourism in Philadelphia was at an all-time low.

We are a city in a financial crunch and cuts need to be made. Education and public safety are paramount. So go ahead move your parade. I hear Camden has an opening.

Steve McGrath, Philadelphia

Good choice for the VA

I applaud the nomination of Gen. Eric Shinseki to the post of secretary of Veterans Affairs.

I am a veteran, and we need a good combat leader. He was a four-star general with great credentials and two Purple Hearts for being wounded. I didn't vote for President-elect Obama, but I commend him on his choice for our VA.

As a veteran, I will back and support our new commander in chief to be. I wish him well; he has a lot on his plate to handle.

George J. Walton, Upper Darby

What's good for GM . . .

I want to thank the Daily News for trying to enlighten the public about the issues concerning the automakers loan from the government. It's a loan, not a bailout, that will be paid back with interest.

As a GM employee and UAW member, I am tired of having to defend my wages and benefits to people who only listen to what they hear on TV and read in other publications. There is only a couple of dollars' difference between us and Toyota.

The UAW and GM have helped raise the standard of living for the middle class in this country and many other professions have reaped the rewards of organized labor.

Why the animosity toward us?

All of the UAW-GM contracts were negotiated fairly and concessions made by both sides to move the industry forward.

I pray the government does the right thing, or there will be another deep recession from which we might not ever recover!

Dave Greenhalgh, Ivyland