ISSUE | FREE TRADE

With each new deal, more jobs leave

What a disappointment it was to read former Gov. Ed Rendell's endorsement of yet another expansion of supposed free trade between the United States and Asia ("For the middle class, trade issues are crucial," March 20).

Apparently, Rendell belongs to that group of politicians who actually believe the expansion of trade provides a net benefit to the American worker and the U.S. economy, rather than the sad truth that these moves often promote more imports than exports for our country.

Time and again, these agreements result in a loss of jobs to foreign countries and put unbearable economic pressure on domestic businesses that cannot compete with foreign firms paying serf-level wages to workers, with no job protections and often in dangerous conditions. Refrigerators and washing machines used to be made here. Now they're made in Mexico.

American imports have exceeded exports for decades, and more trade agreements will only accelerate the trend.

|James Aleo, Philadelphia

ISSUE | NJTRANSIT

Room for one more

New Jersey Transit recently announced that plans are in the offing to hike train and bus fares. The 25 percent increase commuters were hit with in 2010 apparently wasn't enough.

What's really galling is that the agency, which has many hundreds of employees with annual salaries in the $100,000-plus category, also announced plans to hire Michael Drewniak, Gov. Christie's former press secretary. He will fill a newly created position at a salary of $147,400. The position doesn't require any transit experience - fortunately for Drewniak, because he doesn't have any.

|Carol Rhodes, Barnsboro

ISSUE | DIALING, DRIVING

Simple answer

After reading about the problems of teen drivers with distractions and seeing the problems of cellphone use in cars, I think parents should tell their young drivers to trunk cellphones before entering a car, eliminating the urge to see who is calling ("Distracted teens' crash course," March 25). Remember, trunk it.

|Marlyn Alkins, Warrington

ISSUE | MUSIC

Tuning up the wiring in young brains

Concert pianist and Curtis professor Mia Chung deserves a fortissimo thank you for sounding the alarm and reminding us most compellingly that there is more to music than meets the ear ("No child left without music," March 22). Children suffer deprivation of their general development every time another serious music program is phased out or watered down.

It's all about the wiring of the brain, which Chung notes and obviously understands firsthand. She gets it, and so should our little ones - when their brains are still able to grow those remarkable, neuron-bridging wires that will determine their intellectual capacity.

|Walter Weidenbacher, Haddonfield

Who owns the melody becomes complicated

In the wake of a court order that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams pay the family of the late Marvin Gaye $7.3 million for copyright infringement, the future of copyright has been forever affected.

There are almost 100,000 new albums produced each year. With an average of about 12 songs per album, that is 1.2 million new songs per year. Over the years, they add up, and the odds of similar songs increase. Understanding that these artists are high-profile with a generalized pop sound, it should not be their job to look at every song in existence to see if theirs sounds similar.

But that is the way the law is written. Congress should look at copyright law and adjust it to fit the growing number of artists creating songs within the same genre. Otherwise, musical innovation will be stunted.

|Ian Jackson, Annville

ISSUE | STATE POLICE

If the uniform fits, who gets to wear it?

Long ago, my Ukrainian-born mother was selected to portray the Statue of Liberty at a local elementary school. It seemed fitting since she had sailed past the statue and into New York when she was an infant. Nonetheless, some people thought her selection was somehow sacrilegious - although both she and the statue were Europeans.

That was, of course, driven by irrational attitudes. Similarly, government leaders should have a fair chance of being selected regardless of outward appearances. If acting Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown were dressing in the scrubs of a surgeon at Milton Hershey Medical Center, a furor would make sense - not because he trained at an out-of-state university, but because he received no medical training whatsoever.

Apparently, some percentage of Pennsylvanians are more concerned about an emblem of power, a state police uniform, than the fitness of an individual to wear it. By that logic, despite the managerial brilliance of Casey Stengel, he would have been denied a Yankees uniform since he came up through the Dodgers organization. Moreover, despite considerable talents, U.S. Army Air Corps Maj. Alexander de Seversky would have been denied the symbols of a well-deserved rank because he received his officers' training in imperial Russia.

The well-organized tantrums regarding Brown's uniform reflect one form of bigotry, and now it has been augmented by bigotry in a more familiar form ("Racist letter sent to police nominee," March 25).

|John S. Sultzbaugh, Elizabethville, camael1740@gmail.com