These graduates put on a show

At the recent University of the Arts graduation, the procession was led by drummers and dancers. Following them were all the school leaders and instructors, and then came the students. The speeches were creative and inspirational. Actress Kate Flannery, from the popular TV show The Office, was a graduate of the school, and she was honored and present in the audience. Incredible jazz, rock, and traditional live music were provided by the talented arts graduates.

In short, it was the best graduation ceremony I have ever had the honor of attending, and I've attended many - from those at Ivy League schools to state schools. So let's be proud of all the college graduates in this city, but especially those who show that creativity remains alive and thrives here.

Philadelphia is trying to attract film productions, major artists to perform at concert venues, and more. It's important that we walk the walk and show our support for the arts. One of the ways we can do that is to use our bragging rights to the fullest, and show our excitement for the artists born and trained here. So, next year, drop by the UArts graduation. You will get to see a real show on our beautiful Avenue of the Arts.

Bonnie Warren, Plymouth Meeting,

Can afford bigger helpings now

The Simpson-Bowles deficit commission was widely jeered as being the "Cat Food Commission" because it was the apparent intention of Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles to put America's Social Security recipients on a cat food diet. Their panicked, overheated prediction was that unless the government deficit is reduced to 2.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2015, all sorts of awful, terrible, no-good things would happen.

Despite their best intentions to reduce seniors, orphans, and the disabled to deep poverty, the 2015 deficit estimate was reduced to 2.1 percent of GDP without anybody having to suffer deep cuts in Social Security payments. Hopefully, the new deficit estimate will reduce pressure for a so-called grand bargain, and will encourage more spending on increasing employment levels.

Richmond L Gardner, Horsham,

Schools circling ideological drain

As the city schools struggle for survival, a familiar cyclical and cynical scenario is played out by the Harrisburg ideological clique. First, make it impossible for public institutions to function properly. Then, vilify them for not properly functioning. The solution is always to privatize, which boils down to the wholesale transfer of public funds to corporate entities, which in turn make sure that no political fund-raising opportunity shall go begging. Thus, the circle is complete. But just once, I'd like to see schoolchildren treated with the same level of compassion and sensitivity with which Gov. Corbett treats the fracking industry or overseas lottery management companies.

Vincent Romano, Philadelphia,

Lesson plan for sound schools

Politicians say how much they care about keeping business in the city and in the next breath refuse to fund schools with adequate taxes. It is clear that business needs well-educated citizens to employ and well-funded, high-quality public schools as an attraction to locate here. It is also clear the resurgence of young adults in the city only lasts until they have children - at which point many move out, unless they can afford private school, luck out on a charter lottery, or happen to live near a good public elementary school. So, from the state, we need a tax on fracking and smokeless tobacco, and higher income taxes devoted to education. From the city, we need a tax on sugary drinks and the tax increase being discussed for liquor by the drink. From the schools, we need transparency, consistency, and accountability.

Bob Groves, Philadelphia,

Open to celebrating their union

Heterosexuals have enjoyed expressing their love, relationships, marriages, and children publicly. But we've been told to sit down, stop making people uncomfortable, and try to blend in. Well, the time has come for all people to be able to acknowledge their love and relationships freely and without fear. That is our God-given right, that is our constitutional right. We've been "married" 32 years and no one is going to stop us from celebrating our love and our lives together.

Francis Saba and Victor Rivera, Philadelphia

Harbinger of freedom's loss

The Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups during last year's election was an unconstitutional attack on free speech. Other than prosecution and imprisonment, taxation is government's greatest power. Using this power to intimidate speech heralds a totalitarian state.

Frederick Willis, Haddonfield

Be political, but pay taxes

If politically active organizations want to be declared nonprofit, they must prove that their primary purpose is to enhance social welfare and awareness. There is no question that the vast majority of tea party-type organizations were formed to be politically active in the 2010 and 2012 elections with the purpose of influencing elections for the Republicans and, specifically of defeating President Obama. I say, "Go for it, it is certainly your right. But no tax-exempt status for you!"

Bill Maginnis, North Wales

Simplify code as scandal antidote

The Internal Revenue Service has grown into an organization that may act in whatever manner it wishes, and one that's feared by the American people. Its supreme reign must end. The best way to do that is to swap the income tax for a tax on consumption, a levy that's easy to calculate and simple to remit. Lobbyists, of course, would come out of the woodwork to fight for the preservation of our Rube Goldberg-style tax code. With the IRS scandal, though, no further evidence is needed to prove that we are subjected to a system of taxation that's a miserable and mystifying hodgepodge.

Oren M. Spiegler, Upper St. Clair

Enough with Benghazi battle cry

Republicans have devised a new form of water torture called Benghazi. As former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it during an appearance before a congressional committee, why does it matter whether the attack on the Libyan embassy was the result of a spontaneous protest that grew violent, or an attack planned and engineered by terrorists? It happened.

If Republicans in Congress care so much about spending, they should stop wasting taxpayer money with endless committee meetings to interview anyone remotely connected with Benghazi - an event whose significance has to be lost on ordinary citizens. And stop the political blame game. Instead, let's mourn and honor the four men who lost their lives, and move on.

Bette Marsh Austin, Springfield