Payroll-tax cut is deceiving

President Obama's latest effort to extend the payroll-tax cut is very deceiving ("A populist tack for Obama," Wednesday). The intent is to spur the economy and that is a good thing. However, who is going to pay for this in the long run as he continues to support legislation that kicks the real problem further down the road? The Social Security fund is rapidly decreasing and this will only escalate that trend.

I am a senior citizen and probably will not be affected in the short term. On the other hand, if I were in my 20s or 30s, I would be extremely upset because Obama's actions seem to favor the present over the future. That's a poor way to treat the people who put him in power during the last election.

Don Landry, Franconia

Protect investment in the arts

Philadelphia has been crowned first in the nation for cultural tourism by the readers of Travel+Leisure Magazine ("Culture kudos deserved, but should clean up our act," Dec. 3). This creative vitality didn't blossom out of thin air. It was the result of a long-term commitment to arts and culture. That investment has been a crucial part of the revitalization of Center City and of downtowns throughout the region. It has made this a better place to live and work, provided critical educational opportunities for our children, and generated more than $150 million annually for city, county, and municipal governments.

It's in this context that the budget proposed for Montgomery County is so troubling. Higher education and culture have been disproportionately targeted, accounting for nearly a quarter of the $41 million in proposed cuts. This region could see a real payoff from a regional cultural fund, but we also need to protect the investments we have already made.

Tom Kaiden, president, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Philadelphia

Misplaced call for terrorists' rights

In 1942, German saboteurs landed on Long Island and in Florida. They were captured, tried in a military tribunal, and later executed. Because they were not in military uniforms, they were not protected by the Geneva Convention. There is no difference between them and the terrorists we face today.

It outrages me that the troops who are fighting and capturing these terrorists, and who are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, do not have the same rights that you demand for these murdering cowards who respect nothing but their perverted religion ("Don't retreat from freedoms," Tuesday). Stop the political cowardice.

William Ruane, Garnet Valley

What courage feels like

Your editorial properly speaks out against the Senate's granting our military the ability to imprison Americans and deprive us of basic rights. I recall checking in at little Greene Street Friends School in Germantown on Sept. 11, 2001. The school did not close, as many others did. The teachers, staff, and kids were not defeated by those who would destroy our liberties. For the most part, they taught and learned for the rest of the day.

Lacking the institutional courage of a small Quaker school, our Senate has been defeated by the ghost of Osama bin Laden. Perhaps some legislators would benefit from time in school to learn what courage feels like and why we value freedoms they would so quickly dispose of.

Dave Kalkstein, Philadelphia

TSA as symbol of irrational society

Reading "Screening complaints of elderly put TSA on the spot" (Tuesday), it occurs to me there is no greater demonstration of the collective depth of ignorance of our society - in all realms, from our inability to solve our financial ills, to our paralyzed and petty politics - than the failure of logic that plays out daily in the Transportation Security Administration.

That we cannot substitute rationalism - the word in this case is profiling - for idiotic robotism when necessary shows just how low we have sunk and how far we must rise.

Jack Bellis, Wyndmoor,

What exactly was Corzine's job?

As head of MF Global, wasn't keeping track of all the cash the entirety of Jon Corzine's job ("Corzine: Clueless on fate of lost cash," Friday)? Did he have any other duties besides keeping track of where all the cash in his company was being placed?

I can understand how an individual person may not know all the details of how and where exactly all the cash was allocated, but that's why we have computer spreadsheets and databases.

Why do I get the feeling that there are numbered bank accounts in a foreign country somewhere that, taken all together, contain exactly $1.2 billion?

Richmond L. Gardner, Horsham,