Libraries needed

In Sunday's "Alternatives to Closings," Amy Dougherty, executive director of the Friends of the Free Library, makes an important point: "In these tough economic times, we need the resources and opportunities provided by our libraries."

In fact, it is in times of economic crisis that libraries take on an even more important role by helping citizens to cope with the sacrifices that will be asked of them - a role that might even include assisting those who have lost jobs find new ones.

Walter Fox

Philadelphia

Invest in knowledge

In considering closing library branches to deal with a budget gap, I suggest we heed the words of Benjamin Franklin, founder of the Library Company of Philadelphia. "An investment in knowledge," he said, "always pays the best interest."

Following this advice will help the city build a tax base of intelligent and literate residents who will take pride in contributing to Philadelphia.

Marilyn Weinstein

Cherry Hill

Bush's revisions

The story on the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas ("A Bush library to remember or forget?" Wednesday) prompts one to wonder if this will be the repository of the largest collection of revisionist history in the world.

Barry Adams

Downingtown

Right, left, middle

Charles Krauthammer ("Where Obama will veer left," Monday) has made a turn to the right so drastic, he's lost perspective on what a "centrist" is. Veering left from the right-wing blather of the Bush administration is a move to the center.

Ben Burrows

Elkins Park

Hard, ethical choice

Jeff Danziger's cartoon on Tuesday depicting Bernard Madoff's sons putting him in jail implies that their actions served themselves at the expense of their father. But federal investigators have said they found no evidence the sons were involved.

Instead, the sons initiated calls to federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission upon hearing their father's confession of fraud. They did the hardest, but most ethical, thing they could do - turn in their father for criminal activity.

John Clarke

Wynnewood

Payback time?

While I find a bailout of the U.S. auto industry repugnant, I also find it, like the bailout of the financial sector, a necessary evil. The damage would be much too far-reaching not to act. What I find even more repugnant were the actions of the Republican senators blocking that necessary evil. While they were more than willing to help their friends in the financial industry, they balked at doing the same thing for millions of "Joe Sixpacks" who would be affected by the auto industry's failure.

One is forced to wonder if their refusal to help the auto industry was based on the fact that most of the people who would be saved by the action are union members who traditionally vote Democratic, and who undoubtedly were part of the broad coalition that voted to throw out the failed Republican administration.

Karl Dickel

West Deptford

Caps can hurt

As a 25-year veteran in the health-care industry, on both the payer and provider sides, I found Monday's article in your "Falling Through" series ("Cut off as treatment costs pile up") right on the mark.

If you have lifetime caps on your health insurance, you really do not have protection when it is most needed. What we fail to grasp is that most Americans, both young and old, are just one job loss and one serious illness away from complete financial ruin. If people truly understood the implications of this, our current system would not be tolerated for even one election cycle.

Frank Erwin

Brentwood, Tenn.

Waive IRA penalty

As a casualty of the down-turned economy, I have a suggestion for President-elect Barack Obama for his stimulus package: Waive the penalty for early withdrawal from an IRA account for people in my age group. I am 52, and suddenly unemployed.

The present rules impose a penalty for withdrawals before a person reaches 59½ years old. The opportunity to acquire these funds could help older Americans survive until they can find employment.

Dave Parslar

Reading