PHA leader could explain fees
Attorney Sharif Street charged the taxpayers $240 per hour while attending a protest rally in Washington ("Rally day also PHA payday for lawyer," Monday). When asked what legal work Street performed that day, Michael P. Kelly, the Philadelphia Housing Authority's administrative receiver, declined to say, explaining that disclosure was barred by the "attorney-client privilege." As an attorney, I can say that excuse is utter eyewash; the privilege inures to the client, PHA, and not to the lawyer.
Kelly can explain these charges any time he wants. His refusal demonstrates that he is another part of the problem. Kelly's story that PHA lawyers told him to say that is disingenuous and misleading. Even PHA lawyers could not be that ignorant about so basic a concept.
The only way to stop further abuses is to slash PHA's federal subsidy and make the agency decide whether continued fraud and waste is more important than its obligation to its clients.
Cartoon on blame for crisis hits home
Tony Auth's brilliance, and significance, are demonstrated in Friday's cartoon showing a schoolgirl, a postal worker, a firefighter, and a police officer being pointed out by a GOP accuser as having "caused the mess we're in," while a Wall Street tycoon is exonerated and excused.
This probably hit home to a great majority of us. We are aware who did, and did not, cause the meltdown, bailouts, foreclosures, and recession, and it is Auth's art to capture that in an image.
David W. Long
Passive politicians share the blame
The only sense I can make out of Tony Auth's cartoon (Friday) is that the American taxpayer is the fool and has been bailing out these cartoon characters for years. The post office operates at a loss, the public unions get benefits that are unaffordable, and Wall Street gets bailed out because of ridiculous policies supported by both parties. Trying to pin the tail on the elephant is ridiculous. The problems are a result of Democrats and Republicans who have not rocked the boat. The boat is now being rocked and some of the taxpayers are recognizing they are being made fools of. Count me as one of them.
The immorality of budgeting
Stephen Drachler implies that it is immoral to make budget decisions that trim or reduce programs for the poor ("Moral choices abound in a budgeting process," Monday). This conclusion is dismissive of a legitimate difference of opinion over the wisdom of expanding the welfare state. It also ignores 40-plus years of disappointing if not perverse results of such expansion. Walter Williams, a respected black economist, has said, "The welfare state has done to black Americans what slavery couldn't do ... that is to destroy the black family."
Michael J Santella
Slashing programs for the vulnerable
Republicans want to cut $61 billion from the federal budget this year, while Democrats want to preserve programs that benefit low-income families (Monday). The budget consists of both spending and revenue, yet all focus is on cutting programs for the average citizen.
Republicans propose cutting billions from education, renewable energy, law enforcement, clean-water provisions, and health centers. Cuts everywhere. Cuts that impact the most vulnerable people, including children of low-income families, the unemployed, and those who manage a livable wage, thanks to unions that prevent employee exploitation.
While workers' wages have barely moved in the last decade, CEOs have seen tremendous gains. The rich need to be held accountable. The rest of us should not be expected to bear this burden while they reap the benefit.
Understanding Lincoln and slavery
William C. Kashatus sheds light on Abraham Lincoln's struggle with balancing his mandate to preserve the Union and the maelstrom over slavery ("Speech that launched the Lincoln presidency," Friday). Not many people realize that Lincoln never promised to do anything about slavery, and that he didn't act upon it until he was certain the issue could solidify the Union's support at home and internationally.
Perhaps Kashatus' next contribution could focus on all those common soldiers on both sides who fought and died with absolutely no personal or moral stand on the issue of slavery. Then perhaps we can bury the disingenuous criticism of Southern commemorations of their Civil War history as nothing more than celebrations of slavery.
The private sector isn't always best
I agree that the private sector can do a better job vending alcohol ("Why keep State Stores?" Sunday). As a former resident of Philadelphia, I enjoy the wider range of choices at wine and liquor stores in New York state. As for Antony Davies' vilification of Amtrak and his insistence that the private sector always outperforms the public sector, I have two responses: Pennsylvania Railroad and Blackwater.