ISSUE | INFRASTRUCTURE

Christie won't help

Asking New Jersey's Republican governor, who coincidentally will run for president in 2016, to raise the gas tax would be an exercise in frustration and naiveté ("Tap gas tax to fix roads," Dec. 1). Gov. Christie will never saddle himself with approving any tax, let alone the one proposed. While it's a great idea for Christie to fix a problem he has been an active participant in causing, it's a very bad idea for his future aspirations.

|Timothy M. Ennor, Eastampton

ISSUE | CLEAN AIR

Coal still a threat

During the governor's race, I was dismayed that there was so little discussion of the impact of coal-fired power plants on Pennsylvania's environment.

|John Trudeau, Philadelphia, Jt.trudeau80@gmail.com

ISSUE | DEATH AND DYING

Choice is paramount

Another place to stop using the word suicide is with regard to end-of-life directives ("Take mental health seriously," Nov. 28). Choosing to die well is not assisted suicide; it is aid in dying, or pain management to alleviate people's suffering and give them some control in their final days, to experience death with dignity.

Pennsylvania needs a law like Oregon's that allows patients, in consultation with their doctors and families, to determine when they will die. The law should state that doctors can provide drugs to bring about death. For any patients not ready, they have the choice not to have an assisted death.

Everyone should give thought to what he wants as end-of-life care, talk it out with doctors and family, and write it down in a directive. Planning resources can be found at compassionandchoices.org.

|Alice B. Weygandt, Coatesville, stargazers1@verizon.net

ISSUE | CREDIT

Industry standards belie repo-men image

Companies that purchase debt on the secondary market are a critical link in the nation's credit-based economy, and the vast majority of them take this responsibility seriously ("Debt-collection abuse detailed," Nov. 19). As the debt-buying industry's trade group, DBA International supports legal and regulatory action against criminal enterprises that prey on consumers. We created the Debt Buyer Certification Program as a comprehensive national standard of best practices. The program was designed to go above and beyond state and federal requirements, adopting stringent standards focusing on responsible consumer protection, increased transparency, and improved educational and operational standards.

While U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is quoted as saying that abusive collection practices have become "something of an epidemic," there is hardly an epidemic when the industry's most reputable companies, represented by our association, are doing their best not only to meet federal and state regulations, but also to exceed them by voluntarily adopting a certification program that further protects consumers.

|Jan Stieger, executive director, DBA International, Sacramento, Calif.

ISSUE | LIBERAL ARTS STUDIES

Updated curriculum to shape a better world

With his rant implying that contemporary versions of liberal arts glorify a lack of self-control, Robert P. George shows appalling arrogance ("Liberal arts take wrong direction," Nov. 30). The liberal arts education has been geared to be less white, male, heterosexual, Christian, and Eurocentric because the arrogance of that worldview has led to endless war and the potential annihilation of the planet. George's version of a liberal arts education will not lead the race into the future, because we need empathy to make all of humanity be perceived as human, valued, and counted; so, yes, analyzing texts from multiple perspectives, including race, gender, class, and others, is useful to understanding what one doesn't know because of the ethnocentrism we all carry to college.

|Elisabeth Bass, Camden

ISSUE | CRITICISM

Old favorites can help fill the seats

To paraphrase Mike Schmidt, only in Philadelphia can you experience the thrill of an orchestra concert and the agony of reading about it the next day ("Morales steps to the fore," Dec. 1). It's already beyond tiresome to have to put up with reviewers Peter Dobrin and David Patrick Stearns carping about not just the performance, but the performers' choice of music as well. But now the paper has to bring Daniel Webster out of mothballs to disdain pieces like the Capriccio Espagnole, which have the temerity to be both enjoyable and popular.

What's wrong with the occasional curtain-raiser? Most of the great conductors of the 20th century routinely opened concerts with overtures, tone poems, and similar works that are now more often found on pops programs. I'll go out of my way to catch a Mahler or Bruckner symphony, but like most concertgoers, I find nothing wrong with a little ear candy now and then - even if it falls short of your reviewers' lofty standards.

By the way, has anyone noticed that these kinds of complaints are missing from the almost-always more enthusiastic New York Times reviews of Philadelphia Orchestra concerts?

|Isaac Segal, Cherry Hill