No surprise

With the Republicans on the congressional supercommittee willing to let the ship of state sink, rather than have millionaires and billionaires pay even one extra dollar in taxes, it was no surprise that it failed to reach an agreement. However, citizens must continue to press our representatives to bring the deficit under control.

Sen. Pat Toomey's wealthy Wall Street backers were running political commercials blaming the president even before the supercommittee failed. Clearly, his lobbyist and corporate pals are going to do everything they can to protect their pieces of the budget pie, regardless of what is in the national interest. Already they are suggesting that the automatic cuts slated to happen without a supercommittee agreement should be rolled back.

But we should continue to support cutting the Pentagon budget, which takes up an enormous percentage of our federal spending and tax dollars. While millions of Americans are out of work, the Pentagon is full of waste and can't even pass an audit. Now is the time for Congress to make substantial cuts in Pentagon spending to help bring the budget back under control.

Chip Poston, Newtown,

Bury the lines

The suggestion in a letter Monday, "Time to bury power lines," that we should eliminate power outages by legislating that the wires on telephone poles go underground, was excellent. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware could be at the forefront of eliminating power outages and unsightly utility poles.

The cable companies, the electricity companies, and the telephone companies all have deep pockets. It should be mentioned that, in addition to beautifying our states, we would be creating thousands of new jobs.

John Weidman, Newtown Square

Who's Norquist?

I don't remember ever voting for Grover Norquist for any public office, so it is difficult for me to understand why and how so many members of Congress have allowed their integrity and independence to be hijacked by him and his tactics.

In fact, it should be illegal for an elected official to pledge allegiance to any private, partisan interest group that places the interests of that group above the needs and interests of the representative's constituents and prevents that representative from doing a proper job of legislating.

The fact that we do not know who finances Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform organization makes the strength of his influence even more suspect. But how can we hope for reform from Norquist's brand of campaign-finance extortion, when a majority of those with the power to reform are in his thrall? The only answer is for voters to head to the polls in the next election and vote out all who have placed their loyalty to Grover over their loyalty to country.

Sarah H. Widman, Trappe

Water before gas

Even though natural gas is relatively clean when burned compared with coal, the method of its extraction is not so clean and could ultimately harm our aquifers and ultimately the Delaware River ("Protest against gas drilling," Tuesday).

If we don't protect our water, something we take for granted, Pennsylvania could be in trouble.

One only has to look at how the landscapes of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton have been carved up by coal mining to see the consequences of improper energy extraction. The danger for this Marcellus Shale boom is that the chemicals used in drilling go underground unseen. What is their impact? How well are they monitored? More than 4,000 drilling sites is a lot to keep track of. Also, with that many sites in operation, why is the unemployment rate in these areas still high?

The answers to a checklist of questions concerning environmental impacts, employment, and where the natural gas will be used - in laymen terms that are easily accessible to the public - would be helpful.

I don't think there would be as much dissent about shale gas if it were extracted cleanly, without using chemicals, a vast amount of water, and hundreds of road-damaging quarry trucks. But the current methods used need to be improved.

Leo Fitzpatrick, Newtown

Focus not on U.S.

I was deeply disturbed by last Sunday's article "Apple's American job disaster." Steve Jobs' life story epitomizes the American dream. Yet his company denied countless Americans the same opportunity to achieve that dream by moving all the Apple manufacturing jobs to China. Even more appalling, these workers in China earn $1 an hour and labor in conditions so bad that it reportedly drove some to commit suicide.

Yes, another tale of corporate greed. Even more infuriating, Apple continues to charge top dollar for its products, and Americans continue to buy them.

When are we going to wake up and hold corporate America accountable for the decline in decent jobs in this country?

We can start by refusing to buy products from these companies until they change their labor practices and start providing opportunities for American workers. I can assure you that there will be no Apple iPad under my Christmas tree.

Karen Close, Phoenixville