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Letters home ...

Traveling abroad for personal, educational or professional reasons?

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Saturday, April 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Once upon a time, 20 percent down payments were required for home loans. It showed financial discipline on a number of levels. Eschewing the commonsense guideline led to the housing bubble that burst and nearly destroyed the U.S. economy. Now, some once again are arguing against requiring any down payment; rules limiting foreclosures make the practice “superfluous,” they argue. Translation: Easy money? No worries. Taxpayers will bail everybody out — again. ... The true magnitude of the multibillion-dollar boondoggle-in-the-making that is California's high-speed rail project is put into perfect perspective by a new Reason Foundation study: It “cannot be delivered at the cost promised to taxpayers, is based upon a business model incapable of delivering on its legal requirements and is justified by proponents based upon unachievable benefits.” Other than that, it's a great idea. ... The number of unaccountable slush fund checking accounts used by Pennsylvania House leaders has been reduced from 100 to 36. Out in that foreign country known as Harrisburg — you know, the place where the folks think taxpayers are imbeciles — a spokesman has the audacity to ask, “What's the problem?” Defending the reduction of something that shouldn't even exist is like a bank robber defending the fact that he's cut down on the number of banks he's robbing. Yet another reason to keep referring to Pennsylvania by its all-but-official nickname — the Commonwealth of Corruption.

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