ISSUE | GOVERNING
Rewrite, don't blame
President Obama missed the mark recently when he placed blame for corporate inversions on "accountants going to some big corporations . . . and saying we found a great loophole." The real blame lies at the feet of the president and Congress for not tackling the long-overdue rewrite of the U.S. tax code. The president should keep in mind that no one is promoting anything that is illegal. It's akin to homeowners using the mortgage interest deduction permitted under the same tax code.
Rewriting the tax code is a monumental, yet critical, initiative that we need if our nation is to have any hope of competing in a global economy. Putting blame aside, the CPA community stands ready to assist in this enormously important endeavor.
|Michael D. Colgan, chief executive officer, Pennsylvania Institute of CPAs, Philadelphia
Efficient to the end
There is a generally unrecognized but wonderfully efficient enterprise in our midst: funeral parlors. The one that our family selected for my wife's funeral took care of all the details and services needed to make this difficult time as bearable and timely as possible. Its attention to myriad facets of the funeral was really most appreciated. I can't help but compare its performance to the many governmental agencies that have great difficulty in ever getting things done.
|Edwin E. Scully, Philadelphia
ISSUE | TRAVEL
Joy of flight fleeting
It was a demonstration of the lack of civility and courtesy of this era that a dispute erupted between two United Airlines passengers over one trying to recline a seat. The argument last week became so heated that the plane was diverted and the foolish combatants escorted off. Although I do not endorse a blood feud over something so ridiculous, primary responsibility for such conflict rests with the airlines. A once-elegant and relaxing mode of travel has degenerated into hassle after hassle and discomfort. Passengers are squeezed into tiny seats like sardines so that the airlines squeeze out profits. As Americans get larger and larger, and commercial airplane seats smaller and smaller, it is a trend that cannot continue without trouble.
|Oren M. Spiegler, Upper St. Clair
ISSUE | STATE STORES
Privatization would stagger Pa. treasury
Patrick M. Gleason's arguments to privatize the state liquor system center mainly on taxes on wine and spirit purchases and the effect on consumer prices ("Pa., get out of booze business," Aug. 25). But comparisons to those of other states show that prices in Pennsylvania are competitive with many neighboring states. Sometimes prices are lower, sometimes higher. And what Gleason does not mention is that the State Store system is operated for the benefit of every Pennsylvanian - and there are substantial benefits.
In 2012-13, State Stores generated $2.2 billion in gross revenue. Of this revenue: $432 million in sales and liquor taxes was returned to the treasury; $80 million was transferred to the general fund; $23 million went to the state police to enforce liquor laws; $2.6 million was allocated for the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs; and $4.4 million in licensing fees was returned to local communities. Other costs include purchase of liquor, store costs, warehousing, and transportation. Administrative costs make up less than 4 percent of proceeds.
Even with a dip in profits from $121 million last year to $96 million this year, the State Stores remain enormously profitable, with those funds directly benefiting Pennsylvanians through education, health and human services, transportation infrastructure, senior programs, law enforcement, and other areas. Furthermore, losing revenue from the system would only force us to look to other places for revenue. The General Assembly was tasked with closing a $1.5 billion deficit this budget season and will be facing a similar deficit in the next budget cycle. Unfortunately, the reality is that Pennsylvania cannot afford to lose this valuable asset.
|Madeleine Dean, state representative, Abington
ISSUE | SOUTH JERSEY ELECTIONS
Issues, not attacks, should be the focus
While his opponent, Aimee Belgard, and national Democrats are running an attack ad rejected by independent fact checkers, Third Congressional District candidate Tom MacArthur actually outlines the issues important to him and ways he would address them.
|Elizabeth Hartman, Willingboro
ISSUE | CELEBRATIONS
Heroes in our midst deserve a parade, too
As I read about various celebrations held recently, and after extensive coverage of both the annual Labor Day parade and Made in America concert, I couldn't help but wonder why a major city like Philadelphia can't find it within itself to have a parade, or some special celebration, for its military veterans - many of whom have seen combat in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
As a Desert Storm veteran, I noted that since June, Philadelphia has had a Welcome America concert, a Fourth of July parade, a Diner en Blanc event, and a parade to honor the Taney Dragons, as well as the concert and parade this week. There has been no grand celebration for Philadelphia's 88,000 veterans whose service and sacrifice allow us all to enjoy these other special events.
At a time when just 1 percent of the population thinks it important enough to serve in uniform, and in a city that has elevated Jay-Z and Kanye West to godlike status, one would think Philadelphia officials would find the time and resources to honor and remember those men and women who have given so much and asked for so little in return.
|Joe Eastman, Philadelphia