A sneaky tax

Ad pollution on Philadelphia's municipal architecture is a tax ("Ads may appear on city properties," May 9). It's a tax on our peace of mind and a tax on our consumer autonomy. Our clear vistas are sold for corporate sales pitches, which are obviously worth more to the corporations snapping them up than what they're paying the city for the space. Those corporations realize a profit, and in that profit is a sneaky tax, a tax Philadelphians pay, a tax in the form of excess potato chips or even whiskey (as I have seen advertised on the Broad Street Subway). These are products that Philadelphians would not have consumed but for the prompting of these pernicious advertisements.

More than a tax, this advertising is a defilement. It's like graffiti, litter, blight, or unmaintained schools. It is a sign that no one cares, that you have been sold out. It's easy to be demoralized when such antipathy is so unambiguously focused in your direction.

Ken Greiff, Philadelphia

Twist on 'Oliver'

The term orphan is outdated. However, perhaps it can be resurrected to describe the plight of the Philadelphia School District's children.

School District officials are forced into full-time begging for funds to meet minimum standards for the education of students. Their requests for financial assistance are made to a City Council with its own agenda; to state legislators, many of whom care little about city kids; and to a governor who is fixated on honoring his no-new-taxes pledge.

Until the state and city support dedicated revenue sources and permit the district to raise its own funds, this problem cannot be fixed. Philadelphia children, borrowing from Dickens, will be forever pleading, "Please, sirs, I want decent schools."

David McIlhenny, Horsham

Disservice to women

Of the many things I find fascinating about Emily Letts' account of her decision to allow a video to be made of her abortion is her statement that even though she is a counselor at the Cherry Hill Women's Center, she did not use "any kind of birth control" with her sex partners ("Cherry Hill abortion video draws dramatic reaction," May 8). She claims she believes in "learning from mistakes," but she apparently did not learn from the mistakes of the many women she "counseled" at the clinic.

Abortion is a tragic experience, and it is no wonder so many women feel guilty and alone. To have a counselor admit to irresponsibly becoming pregnant after witnessing these tragic experiences on a daily basis does a disservice to women and babies who have had their lives altered and lost. I wish Letts well in her quest to move forward with her life, but I hope she finds a career for which she is better prepared.

Janet Bogorowski, Jenkintown

Bible study

Signe Wilkinson imagines that she has identified some inherent hypocrisy in the practice of public prayer (cartoon, May 8). I wish she had read the Gospel of Matthew more carefully. She might notice that in Matthew 6:5, Jesus identifies the motive in question: "to be seen by others." That is more likely the thrust of what Jesus is condemning, since he also prays publicly on occasion.

Wilkinson is welcome to take issue with public prayer, but she should exercise care in using Jesus as a simplistic justification for her views.

Andy Horvath, Towson, Md., andyh2247@yahoo.com

Ad's Wolf howler

I continue to be amazed at the television ads that imply that Tom Wolf, in his role as revenue secretary, was somehow responsible for an increase in taxes. He was responsible for collecting taxes, not setting the level of taxes. The latter is the responsibility of the governor and legislators. Do the supporters of this message think we are stupid?

Frannie Rink, Lansdowne