ISSUE | PA. POLITICS

Broken promise

When questions arise as to why we have fewer and fewer people voting in nearly every election, Gov. Wolf is a perfect example. One of his primary campaign pledges was that he would require natural-gas extraction companies to pay a severance tax. We are the only major gas-producing state that does not have such a tax.

That promise was a leading reason I voted for him, and I am sure I was not alone. Now, his willingness to give up on the severance tax is made worse by his looking to get the needed funds by increasing the most regressive tax we have - the sales tax. It hits poor people the hardest.

Politicians listen only to those constituents who are powerful enough to finance their campaigns and provide lucrative jobs when they leave office. The rest of us are ignored.

The fact that Wolf used the promise of a severance tax as a focus of his campaign leaves me wondering: Why bother voting?

|Kenneth Veith, Philadelphia, warren.veith@verizon.net

ISSUE | RELIGION

From faith to reality

Our hunger for peace and security should compel us to launch a new era in human history. Our limitation is not technology; it's primitive religious beliefs. Our religions - the products of the infancy of our intelligence, formed long before the age of science - retard and divide us.

We don't drive vehicles that are thousands of years old. Chariots don't run down our streets. Yet we cling to religious beliefs that are thousands of years old. Many people exist in a world of fiction and fantasy.

These primitive beliefs, obstacles to human progress, must be replaced by a nonreligious, reality-based understanding of what is sacred in our world and cannot be violated, damaged, dishonored, or destroyed.

We must do this if we and all the life forms on this jewel of a planet are to survive. Only then will we arrest and reverse our destructive and unsustainable momentum, end our needless suffering, find peace, sustain humanity, and advance our civilization.

|Joe Simonetta, Bradenton, Fla.

ISSUE | PHILADELPHIA

A Kenney fan

To the writer of the letter "Not a Kenney fan" (Tuesday): There's a reason Jim Kenney won the mayor's race so decisively. He has a heart and a brain. He has empathy for the needy.

Try it, you might like it. Judging by your letter, though, probably not.

|Francis Saba, Philadelphia, Francis2520@Comcast.net

ISSUE | PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA

Should earnings determine musicians' pay?

The article about the finances of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the remuneration of conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin was instructive and slightly disconcerting ("Decline in attendance hits another down note," Sunday).

According to the article, Nézet-Séguin earned more than $500,000 in 2013 for 101/2 weeks of conducting. This was less on a weekly basis than his counterparts at major orchestras around the country. Orchestra members are unhappy because their salaries are less than those of their counterparts in major orchestras.

Could this be because the orchestra runs at a deficit, so increased salaries are neither available nor warranted? Are the musicians and their conductor overcompensated since they do not generate enough income to pay the costs? In most businesses, if not all, isn't compensation based on income generation?

I find the Philadelphia Orchestra to be a great, if not the greatest, cultural institution in the city. But to justify the salaries, doesn't it need to earn the money to pay them?

|Sonny Avallone, Philadelphia

ISSUE | PENNSYLVANIA REDISTRICTING

Take politics out of the process

Because Pennsylvania judges, once elected, run for retention only every 10 years, it is very likely that four of the Democrats who will sit on our seven-judge Supreme Court in January still will be there in 2021, when the next electoral redistricting plays out.

Short of a political tsunami, Republicans may continue to hold the legislature in 2021. But they will have just two votes on the reapportionment commission, and the Democrats will have two votes. The state Supreme Court appoints the fifth member, the "swing" vote, and also gets the final say when citizens challenge the commission's map-drawing.

So the new Democratic makeup of the court carries the seeds of destruction of the present gerrymander that so strongly favors Republicans. Democrats might adopt a winner-take-all map as lopsided as the present Republican map.

This is the time for legislators, facing such uncertainty, to adopt a reform to take politics out of the redistricting process. For example, Senate Bill 484, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Boscola (D., Northampton) would put citizens in control. We need to work for it.

|Ken Myers, chair, Common Cause of Pennsylvania, Elkins Park, myers2002@comcast.net

ISSUE | PORNGATE

Make it clear who did what

In numerous articles about Porngate and Justice J. Michael Eakin, there isn't a distinction made between someone who received the offensive emails vs. someone who received them and forwarded them to others. For me, this is a day-and-night situation. You have no control over what is sent to you; however, you have total control when you resend offensive material to someone else.

Friday's article "Eakin: Give New Panel Case" stated that "a member of the conduct board had received similar offensive emails from a former Supreme Court justice." Unless that conduct board member forwarded that material, I fail to see the relevance. Is it that they know each other? I would assume they all know each other, but again, if this person didn't forward the emails, it's steering your readers in a direction that is biased.

|Sharon Banfe, Berlin