Placing profit before people
Opponents of earned sick-time guarantees resist because they don't think small businesses should have to risk making less profit in order to make the benefit available to their employees.
This seems a reasonable argument, but only if making profits is a business' sole priority. But the natural outcome of that argument is that it becomes OK that our lowest-income working people - people who may be poor, but who still get up to go to work every day - have to work sick or not at all (thereby losing money their families need).
Is it more important to protect businesses from losing money than it is to protect hardworking but low-paid people so they can continue to feed their families? Which side should a fair and just society take in that choice?
David R. Fair
David Fair Partners LLC
Licenses not needed to identify pets
An article on Monday ("Pennsylvania dog-license compliance low despite risks") quoted a Delaware County animal control officer as saying that "if [owners] cared about their pet, they would be organized" and would get a license.
The article implies that the sole and well-known purpose of dog licensing is for identification of lost pets. The executive director of the Humane Society of Berks County, for example, is quoted as saying, "the owner claim rate is directly related to whether or not the dog has ID."
But there are other kinds of ID besides a state license. Almost all the dogs I know, and most cats too, wear commercially produced name tags with the owner's name, address, and phone number. (Many also have tattoos or microchips.) In my experience, dog licenses only have serial numbers.
So aren't name tags at least as good as a license for identifying a pet?
IDs to cash checks, but not to vote?
An editorial last Friday berated state House Republicans for wanting to enact legislation that would require photo identification when voting. The editorial claimed such legislation would disenfranchise many "poor, elderly, disabled or non-driving voters, which includes many Philadelphia Democrats."
It seems to me that these people must already use ID for Medicare, Medicaid, electronic benefits transfers, cashing checks, and many other purposes. So what's the problem with having to show one in order to vote?
Christie can't justify helicopter ride
Given the controversy surrounding Gov. Christie's helicopter trip, I wanted to look at the environmental impact. A large, single-turbine helicopter averages between 2.25 to 2.5 miles per gallon. A large SUV, like a Chevy Suburban, gets about 16 miles per gallon on the highway, while three SUVs driving in a motorcade will get an average of 5.5 to 6 miles per gallon.
A helicopter may be able to go places quicker, as the bird flies, and save miles. But helicopters use more fuel per mile and have a bigger environmental impact. Using a helicopter for official business is acceptable, but not personal use.
NJ Sierra Club
Vouchers' effect not as claimed
Contrary to what Matt Kibbe, the president of FreedomWorks, said in support of vouchers in an article on June 2 ("Advocate sees opportunity in Pa. for education reform via school vouchers"), there is a positive relationship between education funding and performance in Pennsylvania. Our students have been recognized nationally for their academic achievements. Over the last eight years, funding increases have led to the number of students testing advanced/proficient on the state exams, increasing from 57.7 percent to 76 percent in reading and from 65.6 percent to 72 percent in math.
Moreover, vouchers do not put competitive pressure on public schools. Milwaukee's public schools, for example, have not become more competitive since vouchers were introduced. Milwaukee students continue to struggle, which points to the need for real reform. True competition cannot occur when competitors disadvantage the existing system by draining a billion dollars from public schools on top of unprecedented education cuts.
Finally, there is no consensus supporting vouchers. Polls show that the majority of voters opposes vouchers, and the opposition crosses racial, socio-economic, and political lines.
Education Policy Director
Public Citizen for Children and Youth
Looking closely at school budget figures
Christopher Paslay made an excellent point in his column on Monday ("District spent its way into massive shortfall"). The 2008-09 budget of $2.8 billion for 169,000 K-12 students works out to an expenditure of $16,568 per pupil. The 2010-11 budget of $3.2 billion spends $19,753 per pupil.
Mayor Nutter is correct to demand a full accounting of School District expenditures before raising taxes another 10 percent. Perhaps a better solution would be to close the schools and send the children to schools in the Inter-Academic League (Penn Charter, Episcopal, et al.), since the per-pupil expenditure in our public system is approaching the tuition at these very expensive private schools.