ISSUE | JOBS

Ex-Im primes pump

As a Washington insider, Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint seems to think he knows how to run our businesses here in Philadelphia ("Let the Ex-Im Bank expire," Sept. 9). While he may have experience owning a small business, his marketing firm didn't export - which explains why he seemingly doesn't understand that Ex-Im, rather than a form of corporate welfare, means jobs in Philadelphia.

In Pennsylvania, Ex-Im Bank supports 285 exporters, 179 of which are small businesses. In the last seven years, through authorizing nearly $6 billion in exports, the bank has helped support 38,000 jobs statewide.

Opponents of the bank seem to think we live in an ideal world, but my business operates in the real world. The reality is that U.S. businesses face intense competition overseas on an uneven playing field. The Ex-Im Bank is critical to not only to my business, but to other businesses in Philadelphia and across the country.

|Karl Brown, president, SB Global Foods Inc., Lansdale

ISSUE | SPORTSMANSHIP

Words, not picture

If Phillies relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon's crotch-grabbing gesture was ejection-worthy, why did The Inquirer find it necessary to print it on the front page of its sports section ("Papelblown: Closer tossed after gesture," Sept. 15)? The editors should have taken the high road - like the Bucks County Courier Times - and chose not to print the photo.

|Debra Rosen Ravin, Richboro

Bad behavior

Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has admitted that he beat his 4-year-old son with a switch, "discipline" so serious that wounds were seen a week later ("Peterson inactive against Patriots," Sept. 15). No doubt there will be those who set aside character and human decency, football fanatics who will continue to idolize Peterson, cheer, and to wear his jersey unless and until he is taken away from the sport - something not likely to happen, given his athletic ability. So if we seek to learn why civilization is breaking down, a look at professional football will serve as a valuable guide.

|Oren M. Spiegler, Upper St. Clair

ISSUE | TONY AUTH REMEMBERED

Humanity in cartoonist's work touched us all

Tony Auth had one of those unique voices that leave their stamp on a newspaper, that give it its personality. Often, upon picking up my fresh Inquirer, I would turn first to the editorial page to see Auth's take on the story of the moment - in much the same way I would go directly to the end of a buffet line to get my dessert. I knew where to find the delectable stuff.

Auth's cartoons were unfailingly incisive, funny, sharp-edged, or poignant. Sometimes they were all of that simultaneously. I remember many of them well, but one that has forever lodged itself in my head illustrates his strong suit: A homeless man trudges along a city street in newly fallen snow. His footprints tell the story. We see that, rather than traveling in a straight line, he has approached a storefront display window, presumably to pause and look (longingly? wistfully? despairingly?) before moving on. The cartoon invites us to fill in the blanks, to tell a story that has, at its center, a universal truth.

Auth's work reminded us that we all - from the Union League big shot to the man sleeping on the grate - are participants in a great human endeavor, and we all deserve consideration. As legacies go, that's a pretty good one.

|Don Wuenschel, Swarthmore

Sailing passion united

I knew Tony Auth for almost 25 years and we met by unusual circumstances after he depicted Santa Claus in a sailboat for a 1990s Christmas cartoon. I wrote to him saying, great message, but your sails are not set quite right. Two weeks later, he called me saying, I am a sailor and I was going down wind, blah, blah. He asked what I did and at the time I was starting Philadelphia City Sail Inc., an education program targeting inner-city schools and students and based on a 75-foot schooner at Penn's Landing. He asked me what he could do to support our program and I said he could donate the cartoon to our benefit in March. We met for lunch and became friends ever since, and he and his wife Eliza, who is a fine artist, would donate cartoons and a piece of Eliza's art to every one of our benefits. Tony drew many cartoons for my program and was very generous with his talent in supporting many other programs as well. Tony will be missed.

|Rick LeFevre, Philadelphia, captainrick555@gmail.com

ISSUE | CAPITAL PUNISHMENT

Life behind bars worse, but more humane

For 21 years, through interminable legal pleas at the expense of millions in legal fees (more than the cost of life in prison without parole) and loss of valuable court time, convicted murderer Hubert L. Michael Jr. has sat under the sword of Damocles on death row ("Corbett grants temporary reprieve on an execution," Sept. 13). The latest stay in his execution stems from a controversy over lethal-injection drugs.

This is the definition of cruel and unusual punishment and, what is worse, the victim's family has been forced to relive their horrible nightmare over and over again.

Life in a maximum security prison with no chance of parole, and years and years to ponder a wasted life, is a terrible fate. It is worse than a quick death.

How can we condemn executions in other countries while we continue the practice?

|Ralph D. Bloch, Warrington, ralphdbloch@yahoo.com