Wars taking money from education

Re: "Teacher pay goes to head of agenda," Monday:

Jackie Anderson, teachers' union president in Hatboro-Horsham, where there's been an impasse over pay and health insurance since June 2009, gives us a clue to the genesis of the so-called class warfare between teachers and citizens over teacher pay.

"The only place where the community can control the purse strings at the local level is with teachers," she said. "There's very little you can do about state spending, very little you can do about federal spending."

Overlooked by most people because of the complexities is the fact that state support for local districts has been slashed because federal support to the states has been slashed. Federal education support comes from the "discretionary" budget, more than half of which now goes to military spending.

The money that should be subsidizing local spending is being siphoned off at an accelerating rate to fund wars and weapons that people increasing regard as needless and wasteful. Needless and wasteful they may be to working people, but they are lucrative to those supplying the weapons and warfare.

The real class warfare is between working people in general, including teachers, and the powerful and wealthy leaders of the military-industrial complex, who are delighted to see working people fighting among themselves.

Jane Swift Dugdale

Bryn Mawr

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Rulers use religion to their advantage

Here's a thought for the holidays. If you're wondering why Muslim zealots blow themselves up; or why atheists are depressed; or how Christian politicians can vote against unemployment extensions and for tax cuts for the wealthy, consider the first-century Roman statesman and philosopher Seneca, who wrote: "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful."

Richard G. DiFeliciantonio

Collegeville

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Vermont deserves slavery distinction

A letter Monday, "Pa. milestone in fight against slavery," said Pennsylvania's legislative assembly in 1781 "became the first governing body in human history to outlaw slavery." There are two big problems with this claim.

First, the constitution of Vermont abolished slavery in 1770. Because it was an independent republic until becoming our 14th state in 1791, Vermont can claim not only to have had the first governing body in human history to outlaw slavery, but also to have been the first country to be slave-free.

Second, the 1780 Pennsylvania Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery was, indeed, gradual. Massachusetts decided in 1783 that slavery had been abolished in its 1780 constitution, and in 1790 it was the only state the U.S. census found to be slave-free.

It was not until 60 years later that the census failed to find any slaves left in Pennsylvania.

Peter Freyd

Philadelphia

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Lincoln wouldn't like today's GOP

It has become increasingly clear that what the people of this country are faced with is a choice between the socialist Democrats and the fascist Republicans.

It would seem to me that socialism is much closer to "of the people, by the people, for the people" than the fascism "of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations."

It is very hard to imagine that Abraham Lincoln would allow himself to be associated with today's Republicans. I hope that I am still around to remind people of this when the next election cycle rolls around.

Phil Sheridan

Philadelphia

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Marijuana is a drug; treat it as if it's one

A recent letter supporting the legalization of marijuana ("Drug war failed, so legalize pot," Dec. 17) said the drug was relatively harmless. Let me offer your readers an alternative perspective.

In August, my car was hit head-on by a driver under the influence of marijuana. He did not swerve or try to avoid my car after he crossed lanes of traffic. He nearly killed me, and did kill himself.

I am told that I will be out of the wheelchair and walking in one year, after two more surgeries to follow the two I have already had.

I would suggest to your readers that marijuana has all sorts of side effects, none of them conducive to a productive lifestyle.

My accident is one example from my own life, but it scares me that California even considered a vote on legalizing this drug.

Ruth Dilts

Lincoln University