A letter Wednesday ("Ethanol, wind turbines worse than fracking") suggested that "ridding the world of those energy money pits would be good for our wallets and the environment."
But comparing the price per unit of energy is not a fair manner of assessment. It is true that there is a large up-front cost for solar/wind energy. But these technologies do not produce pollution.
Coal-fired plants are the largest industrial source of pollution in the United States. They add arsenic, mercury, and lead to our waterways. More than a dozen states have imposed regulations on mercury. Pennsylvania has not.
Coal power plants create large amounts of air pollution, affecting human health when inhaled and affecting the environment in the form of acid rain. Environmental Protection Agency researchers estimate that the current proposed emission limits would annually prevent about 17,000 premature deaths, 11,000 nonfatal heart attacks, 12,200 hospital and emergency room visits, and 120,000 asthma attacks in Pennsylvania. The coal industry is fighting emission limits because they would increase the price of energy and could make alternatives cost-effective.
Solar and wind technologies produce electricity without producing pollution. Since pollution poses significant costs to health and the environment, not considering the cost of pollution makes the economic comparison doubtful.
As a registered Democrat, I believe that any Democrat who has no problem with President Obama flying on Air Force One to a vacation, but objects to Gov. Christie taking a state police helicopter to see his boy play baseball, is a mean-spirited hypocrite.
Good parents ought to take time off from work to see their kids participate in sports, plays, and stuff. Criticize Christie for his politics, but not for being a loving and good father.
Regarding Harold Brubaker's article on May 29, "Funding of corporation pensions up to 84 percent," here are some facts worth considering:
I'm a retiree from Rohm & Haas Co. (now Dow Chemical Co.). At the time of my retirement, I had to choose between a lump-sum payment or an annuity. In figuring the lump sum, one of the factors used to account for future inflation was a formula to estimate the present value of future benefits.
If you took the lump sum, it was up to you to invest it. If you elected to take the annuity, you got a 3 percent maximum cost-of-living allowance per year and various reduced-payment options that would continue payments to your spouse in case you died first. Plus you would be covered by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. if the plan went broke.
Based on these rules, I chose the annuity.
Those who chose the lump-sum option have since sued to get the COLA retroactively. They won the case, but appealed because the lawyers were making too much money on the deal. I believe the appeal is pending.
My concern is that this will put a big dent in the pension's kitty and jeopardize future payments. I also think the court's decision was wrongheaded. It is certainly unfair to those who took the annuity.
Lawrence J. McCole
A letter Friday ("Israeli concessions not concessions") is wrong on history and holds Israel to a double standard.
Israel's sovereignty as trustee for Gaza was established by its peace treaty with Egypt, which had received that sovereignty from the United Nations cease-fire agreement with Israel in 1949. There was no Jordanian territory west of the Jordan River until Arab armies attacked the nascent Israel, when it declared independence.
If Israel's territorial gains from military action are illegitimate, then Palestinian claims of a "long history" and international "legitimacy" are equally specious. Both sides have legitimate claims, and have established legitimate residency claims to international recognition. Serious negotiations must be based on the realization that aggressive territorial expansion, invasive behavior, politics through terror and intimidation, and religious triumphalism have achieved nothing but mutual disrespect.
Each announcement regarding the Philadelphia Orchestra is more disheartening than the last ("Cutbacks, changes in Philadelphia Orchestra's new strategic plan," May 29).
So now the wisdom is that we need to re-costume the musicians to make them more accessible to the public. Perhaps they should don chicken suits, so the players can flap their wings with the conductor (dressed, of course, in a clown suit). Have they thought about beer vendors parading up and down the aisles during the performance? And let's all take a vote - Star Wars or Superman medley?
Dumbing down the repertoire isn't going to attract or retain world-class musicians. The orchestra is just too expensive to cover its costs with ticket sales. The only real solution is government support (good luck with that) and philanthropy.
The average Joe with two jobs, a mortgage, and a college fund for his kids is too tapped out these days to provide significant revenue.