Skip the flash-mob psychobabble

The Rev. Kevin R. Johnson's guest column ("Tackle the reasons for flash mobs," Saturday) is little more than psychobabble claptrap. The young people committing these atrocious crimes in Philly know nothing and care less about the form of government under which they live and could never distinguish between autocracy and anarchy. They seem to prefer a kind of kleptocracy.

Unlike the young street protesters in the Middle East who risk their lives to bring about a just government, our young thugs wish to create mayhem and inflict suffering on innocents because it's fun, occasionally profitable, and most likely not punishable. Until such behavior is more painful than gleeful, they will continue their cruelly inflicted chaos.

Kevin McGonigal, Moorestown, kevikens@hotmail.com

Buffett vs. Norquist in 2012?

In a New York Times commentary, Warren Buffett reports that his federal tax bill for 2010 was 17.4 percent of his taxable income, a starkly lower percentage than paid by everyone else in his office. Their federal tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent of their taxable income. Buffett finds this situation intolerable, as should all of us who believe in fairness and equity.

The Grover Norquist-led group Americans for Tax Reform can successfully require many elected federal officials to sign a pledge that preserves these inequities in the name of "reform." I propose that candidates for federal office be presented with the "Buffett Pledge":

"I pledge to support a federal tax code that requires those most fortunate among us, who have benefitted the most from the American dream, to pay at least the same rate of tax on their income as the secretaries, janitors, clerks, and managers they hire; and the policemen, teachers, and soldiers who serve and protect them."

Let's have a Buffett-vs.-Norquist pledge referendum in 2012.

Timothy Beshore, Philadelphia, timbeshore@gmail.com

Here's where the real divide is

Regarding James Florio's guest column ("In wealth and politics, a gaping divide," Monday), the real gaping divide is between the people who rely on the government for all that they have and the people who try to protect what they have from the government's insatiable desire to spend other people's money. If Florio is so worried about the divide, maybe he can decide to give all his pension income back to the government.

Tim Byrne, Wayne

Critique of city plan was off-base

Monday's commentary "Gentrification is goal of city plan" did a disservice to the many Philadelphians who have participated in developing this pathbreaking plan, "Philadelphia 2035." Over the last two years, commission members, staff, and volunteer advisory groups have gone to extraordinary lengths to gather public input. The commission held dozens of well-publicized events all over the city. Philadelphians who could not attend could send feedback by telephone or e-mail. The commission extended several deadlines to get more feedback.

And so far, there are 60 certified citizen planners, trained at the new Citizen Planning Institute, all now playing a vital role in their respective neighborhoods.

While the "Citywide Vision" portion of the plan has been published, we are only beginning 18 district plans that will focus carefully on the neighborhood level. Indeed, two are now under way and have generated a strongly positive public response.

Philadelphians from every neighborhood are intimately involved in shaping a plan that will guide our city well into the 21st century.

Alan Greenberger, chairman, Gary Jastrzab, executive director, Philadelphia Planning Commission

Tough choice a year from now

A year from this November, we Americans will have to choose between a party whose record reflects a policy of "tax and spend" and another whose record reflects a policy of "borrow and spend." Have you made up your mind yet?

Wallace Wolff, Souderton