Business is about the bottom line

In "A merger maximus" at the top of the Business section Sunday, I found the statement, "And now [Brian L. Roberts] and executive vice president David L. Cohen have to convince the federal government that the Comcast-NBC Universal merger could be a good thing for consumers."

The purpose of business actions is not to be good for consumers, but rather to be good for the bottom line. According to Adam Smith's "invisible hand," free action by business almost always results in good things for consumers, but in ways that could not be imagined at the time. Let businessmen do things for profit, and the good things will come.

Martin Cohen

Melrose Park

Let Hollywood win in Afghanistan

Trudy Rubin in her Sunday column is no longer talking about "winning" anything in Afghanistan. Now, her concern is Afghans' perceptions and who they believe will emerge as the winner ("How players view Obama plan").

In this spirit, I have a modest proposal for Rubin and Gen. Stanley McChrystal: Instead of sending our young men and women to Afghanistan to slog it out and die in those rugged and remote areas of Afghanistan's vast moonscape, they should hire James Cameron or Jerry Bruckheimer as military contractors to use the incredible special effects we Americans have become so habituated to, to convince Afghans of our winner status.

It would save a whole lot of human agony. And it might be cheaper.

John Grant

Plymouth Meeting

Keeping our priorities straight

The Philadelphia Union's new uniform should display the official seals of the team's three biggest sponsors: the commonwealth of Pennsylvania ($47 million), Delaware County ($30 million), and the Delaware River Port Authority ($10 million).

It's especially inspiring how the commonwealth and county found all this money for a soccer stadium while disemboweling public library budgets. The Union's uniforms should publicly herald these groups for keeping their priorities straight in tough economic times.

Rick Eckstein


Favoring gays over adoptees?

The adoption community is outraged that the New Jersey Legislature is allowing gay marriage to move to the front of the line, when adoption reform has been denied a vote for 30 years ("N.J. Senate panel votes to allow gay marriage," Tuesday).

The Adoptees' Birthright Bill, which would restore the civil right of adoptees to access their own birth certificates, has supermajority support in the Assembly and has already passed in the Senate, and Gov. Corzine has expressed support. After decades of debate and compromise, adoption reform should not be sidelined simply because a few prominent Democratic officials insist that this is the "right time" for gay marriage.

I simply cannot imagine that denying someone the right to a ceremony can be as cruel and reckless as denying someone his or her true identity and access to family medical history.

Peter W. Franklin


First, fix the ladder to upward mobility

In John Rossi's Monday commentary, "A study in upward mobility," he shares a beautiful story reflecting on an American past when all Americans could climb. But it is simply irresponsible to assume that his story reflects the realities of our own time.

A study released in August by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty demonstrates the variety of ways in which our cities criminalize poverty. While cities lack shelter space for the homeless, so many of them legislate against sleeping, sitting, and even eating in public areas. Philadelphia punishes the impoverished for sitting or lying in certain public places, as if this population had choices. These laws against the publicly poor have increased since 2006, sinking their teeth into the hands and feet of those who would give anything to climb up.

So before we raise our glasses to social mobility, let's pay attention to the missing rungs in the ladder.

Matthew Soffer