First, democracy

The Occupy movement was a reminder heard around the world that people in the United States are blessed with the freedom to speak out when they see injustice. And people listened.

Last Sunday, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Delaware County held a special congregational meeting to determine whether we, as a congregation, would sign a letter of support of the Occupy movement. We needed at least one-third of our members to attend; we surpassed that. We needed 75 percent of those in attendance to vote in favor; everyone voted their support.

An interfaith groundswell is building, including Christians and Jews, Quakers and humanists. To quote Robert Reich, first "we must Occupy democracy," giving power back to the people through fair elections, free of corporate sponsorship. Only then will economic justice return to America.

Craig Harris, Springfield

Good investment

The article "Occupy movement will press on" (Dec. 3) cites the movement's larger costs to the city (about $1 million) compared with the smaller costs of parades. What about the benefits of Occupy? Changing the political discourse around social inequality. Highlighting the role of corporate entities in structuring economic outcomes. Providing the next generation a platform for advocacy. Giving voice to disenfranchised groups. Organizing and activating the youth of America. Seems like a pretty good investment to me.

Anne Shlay, professor, department of sociology, Temple University

Rights even in N.J.

I have never understood why the rights guaranteed to me by the U.S. Constitution stop at some river or line on a map. While the writer of "Keep your handguns out of Jersey" (Tuesday) may feel that citizens of his state have debated and decided the limits on gun ownership there, they left the rest of the U.S. citizens out of the discussions, citizens who have protection under the Constitution.

The writer also indicates that Pennsylvania has an ineffective policy toward gun ownership because the background check can be done in an hour over the phone. His statement is inconsistent with my experience. I remember filling out forms, providing references, being interviewed, and hearing about the interviews involving my references. And I know they checked all the databases.

Jeffrey Kurtz, Jeffersonville

Illogical on guns

The writer of "Keep your handguns out of Jersey" argues that handguns belonging to law-abiding concealed-carry license holders from Pennsylvania would be detrimental to New Jersey's public safety if they were allowed inside the Garden State. That same week, there were news reports of eight shootings during a five-day period in Camden, often cited as the nation's most violent city.

It's not the legal guns that are causing the problems, and thus concealed-carry by lawful citizens shouldn't have a negative effect on the crime plaguing his state. If guns themselves are the problem, shouldn't there theoretically be no gun crime in Jersey? After all, it's illegal to possess firearms on the street, right?

John Eric, Philadelphia

Save the mails

The proposed dismantling of our U.S. Postal Service seems in line with a continuing plot to destroy the entire fabric of our society ("Poison pill for post offices," Thursday). Yes, business models change, but the ability to deliver mail is one of the hallmarks of a successful society. The ability of Americans to mail letters is almost as important as the right to vote and justice. If we as a society can subsidize airports, commuter buses, and trains, surely we can do what is necessary to guarantee a bare minimum of postal service.

Joseph DuPont, Towanda

Save Medicare

Right now, seniors with higher incomes pay a tax "surcharge," in the form of higher premiums, for Medicare. For individuals with incomes of more than $85,000, or married couples with more than $170,000, you will pay at least $600 per person extra. Although I am not happy to be in that situation, I can afford it, and so can my fellow seniors who have such incomes. The world hasn't ended, and no one has (to my knowledge) been driven to the poorhouse.

I would expect that those younger than 65 who make this kind of income could afford this surcharge at least as easily as seniors. Assuming that the top 10 percent of U.S. tax filers would fall into these income categories, and each paid the lowest surcharge rate of $600 per year, that would be an extra $7 billion to $8 billion every year going into Medicare.

If higher-income seniors can afford to chip in and help Medicare, why can't younger people with similar incomes do likewise?

Robert A. Rohde, Ardsley