Luring tourists to the region
If we need any more evidence that Philadelphia needs to "Invest in luring more visitors" (Dec. 5), we just got it. This month, Lonely Planet Travel Guides named Philadelphia as a top "must-see city for 2013," specifically citing our incredible arts and culture scene.
The marriage of culture and tourism is a Philly success story, and it's one we need to tell. That's why we support the currently proposed one-third of 1 percent increase to the hotel tax. Arts and culture are a strategic competitive advantage for this region, but a fragile one. If we care about Philadelphia's employment, tax base, and quality of life, we must make investments that support our distinct cultural product and its promotion.
Tom Kaiden, president, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
The kindness of strangers
On Dec. 4, the holiday spirit of goodwill was superbly manifested when my wife and I experienced a motor-vehicle mishap at the Giant Supermarket on York Road in Willow Grove.
So many people offered assistance. A wonderful couple took my wife home, and two gentlemen stayed with me for many hours, as the original tow truck that responded was not equipped for this situation. One man provided his cellphone for the numerous calls that I needed to make, and the other drove me home.
To all of you, many thanks and good wishes for a happy holiday season.
Hy Brood, Willow Grove
Taking care of city horses
The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supports the proposed bill of Councilman Bill Greenlee and Mayor Nutter to put long-overdue and much-needed regulations in place governing the keep of horses ("Council concerns: Bikes, skateboards, even horses," Dec. 7).
Every month our agency is involved in rescuing horses from unsanitary and unsafe conditions - in backyard stables, weed- and trash-filled lots, or wandering neighborhoods. In 2011, we took in 16 horses that were living in such conditions. So far this year, we've rescued 24, many of them emaciated and suffering from a variety of injuries.
As long as horses are permitted without regulation, animals will suffer, and our neighborhoods will also suffer from the unsanitary, waste-filled lots where they are kept.
Horses are beautiful, majestic animals. They need to live in an environment conducive to their needs. We urge City Council to support this legislation.
Jerry Buckley, CEO, the Pennsylvania SPCA, Philadelphia
Questions on health exchanges
Gov. Corbett announced last week that Pennsylvania will join a growing number of states that will defer to the federal government to run the health-insurance marketplaces that are a key provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("Corbett rejects insurance exchange," Thursday). By declining to run its own exchange, Pennsylvania will allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to operate an insurance marketplace in the state on its own.
For physicians and their patients, this is an important issue. And as such, the Pennsylvania Medical Society will continue to be engaged and advocate on their behalf. As we've said in the past, health-care coverage should be available and affordable to all American citizens and legal residents.
The Pennsylvania Medical Society understands that our state leaders had many questions directed to the federal government about regulations and costs related to running an insurance exchange. And our organization understands that many of those questions went unanswered. Without such information, it would have been difficult for the governor to determine if a state-run insurance exchange would have been efficient and cost-effective for Pennsylvania taxpayers.
The law does allow the decision to establish a state-based exchange to be reevaluated by states each year. And hopefully when that time arrives, Pennsylvania will be better informed and can decide whether a state-run exchange makes more sense.
C. Richard Schott, M.D., president, Pennsylvania Medical Society, Philadelphia
Let tax credit expire
Your employment and environmental justifications for a seventh extension of the production tax credit subsidy for wind electricity are unpersuasive ("Wind subsidy boosts environment and jobs," Dec. 7). The argument that the credit preserves many thousands of jobs is supported only by bland assertions rather than rigorous analysis, and ignores the adverse employment effects of the taxes that must be imposed to finance the credit. It ignores also the reduced employment in the conventional power sector caused by the credit, as well as the adverse employment effects of the large distortions that the credit creates for regional electricity markets.
These distortions have the effect of substituting high-cost power in place of cheaper electricity, and over the longer term yield an investment mix more costly than necessary. Consumers must bear these costs whether directly or indirectly; there are no free lunches, and one result of costlier power is less employment in the aggregate. These distortions also result in increased up-and-down cycling of conventional generators, yielding more pollution rather than less, as an engineering study of Colorado and Texas demonstrated. The credit should be allowed to expire.
Benjamin Zycher, visiting scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Washington