President Bush has been accommodating in the transition to President-elect Obama. He also has captured the reluctantly evolving sentiment toward helping the automakers. Nevertheless, I believe he will be evaluated historically at the low end because of many mistakes, most notably an unnecessary war, interference with civil rights and profligate spending. He never understood that diplomacy is more than fighting "ism" with "ism."
Walter J. Gershenfeld
Ashley Sayeau's commentary (Keep an open mind on national health care," Monday) is a welcome antidote to the Harry and Louise TV campaign of 1993. Sponsored by the health-insurance industry, those propaganda mini-dramas helped ensure the failure of the Clinton administration to reform our system. Sayeau's positive experience with Britain's National Health Service contradicts the scare tactics health-system supporters have established, largely unchallenged. As Sayeau reports, there are no long lines, reasonable doctor choice and generous prescription subsidies. Plus, neighborhood access is available at all times without having to tax expensive hospital emergency rooms for weekend scrapes or sprains. It is almost 100 years overdue for our own country to decisively uncouple health care from profit.
Re: "Is tax windfall worth the wait," Dec. 14:
The article did a great service in reminding readers of the context in which a tax abatement was first introduced in 1997 to stimulate development in targeted low-income neighborhoods. Since then, the abatement program has become one of the most comprehensive in the country. Its primary beneficiaries are large developers, landlords and upper-income homeowners who have retained $256 million that would otherwise go into the city's general fund. Economists project the abatement won't start to pay for itself until 2025.
National research shows that inadequate services undercut the benefit of municipal tax abatements as an economic development tool. Does Philadelphia have the right mix of taxes and services to remain competitive? Or has the abatement become a luxury our city can no longer afford?
Citizens for Children and Youth
Re: "Key role of whistleblowers," editorial, Tuesday.
Imagine how different things would be if an official at any of the financial institutions near the top of the bank bailout list had blown a whistle at any time since March 1999, when Alan Greenspan cited forces of the "business cycle" and "human nature" in defending his faith in derivatives markets. Perhaps that would have forced someone to put a finger in the dike, back when there was only one hole in it. When analysts at Fortune 500 companies are told to keep "working the numbers" until the CEO or the board of directors has something they can approve, and thereby allow them to collect exorbitant bonuses, these analysts need to step forward and start blowing whistles.
Ron Barras Jr.
Apparently as a result of losing more than $1 billion of his clients' funds in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, financier Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet committed suicide. Since Madoff knew his actions could irreparably harm people, I think he should be charged with murder. What is the difference between a bank robber shooting Villehuchet and Madoff's actions having the same result?
Kenneth L. Zimmerman
Huntington Beach, Calif.
Here's a sensible proposal to consider for the Mummers Parade at a time of drastic cost cutting. Let the clubs dress up as they wish and can afford and march up Broad Street as they did many years ago - playing, dancing, and having a good time. Forget the all-day parade and all those interminable stops that make watching it such a chore. Go back to a parade that moves and forget the rewards. It probably would be over in two hours but would be a lot more fun and not a burden on the clubs, spectators and the city.