Sounding off: Wealth tax could decrease poverty
I would like to see Congress pass a new program into law to replace the former Aid To Families With Dependent Children program, which was passed under FDR in 1935 and abolished in 1996.
Since its abolition, there has been a large increase in the number of people (especially children) living in “extreme poverty” (meaning living on less than $2 per day) and “deep poverty” (meaning at a level half of the official poverty line). It could be paid for by adopting a national wealth tax of 14.25% on all individuals with a net worth of $10 million and higher, which is exactly what Donald Trump proposed in 1999 before he became what I have always believed to be a fake conservative.
In return for receiving this assistance, all recipients would be responsible for doing some type of volunteer work and/or job-training since one thing that both Republicans and Democrats do agree upon is that no one should ever get “something for nothing.”
Stewart B. Epstein, Rochester, N.Y.
The writer is a former Squirrel Hill resident who taught at West Virginia and Slippery Rock universities.
Vaccination wards off disaster
This country was once full of plagues and short life expectancies, but when immunizations changed everything. Unfortunately, now some people view immunizations as a right rather than a requirement.
When we stop vaccinating, epidemics ensue. Take Japan in 1974. When pertussis was at all-time lows, the country stopped requiring vaccination and by 1979, an epidemic left 41 dead.
As a registered nurse, I am frightened as to where society is heading. Many decisions to not vaccinate are based on inaccurate research. This is doing a disservice to those who cannot be vaccinated and rely on herd immunity.
It is society’s job to ensure policy change so that immunization is more strictly enforced. An education program on vaccination should be required before someone is allowed to opt out. If we fail to make a change, old illnesses will wreak havoc once again.
Rebecca Seeger, Lawrenceville
Call for Styrofoam ban
The unsustainable amount of single- use plastics that Americans use every day terrifies me: 150 million tons of plastic produced each year are used only once, and the problem continues to worsen.
Styrofoam, which is very difficult to recycle, is a big contributor to this problem. It makes up a sizeable portion of the North Atlantic garbage patch, and its carcinogenic properties are terrifying. Very soon, just eating fish could lead to an increased risk of cancer, at a level where everyone on earth is exposed.
Although I am worried for my safety now, if nothing is done, this issue will only get worse. I worry about the health of my children and children’s children due to issues that, infuriatingly, can be easily avoided.
There are dozens of alternatives to Styrofoam that are incredibly cheap to make and don’t cause nearly as large of an environmental impact. Ironically, the only thing that keeps humans from easily solving this problem is humans themselves: the chemical industry. The fact that these corporations prioritize profit over the well-being of the human race is one of the most frustrating things I have ever encountered.
Their unwillingness to regulate themselves is the reason I support a statewide ban on polystyrene foam cups and takeout containers, as other states and countries have done.
We must call upon our legislators to support a ban on foam cups and containers.
Emily Giudici, Oakland
The writer is an environmental campaign organizer for PennEnvironment and a student at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in urban studies and Japanese.
On abortion, let’s build bridges
Believe it or not, most individuals who identify as pro-choice are not cold blooded baby-killers seeking to advance a culture of death. And guess what? Most individuals who identify as pro-life are not religious bigots and misogynists hell-bent on oppressing women.
After over 40 years of emotional rhetoric and demeaning euphemisms, abortion remains one of, if not the most, divisive issues in our nation. Both sides of the debate demonize and dehumanize the other. We prefer to label rather than listen. We prefer to condemn rather than converse.
Pope Francis often talks about “tearing down walls” and “building bridges.” Perhaps it is time for pro-choice and pro-life advocates to tear down the wall of derision and build a bridge of dialogue; to tear down the wall of contempt and build a bridge of civility; to tear down the wall of hate and build a bridge of love.
Jesus’ command to “love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us” is not some sappy slogan or pious platitude. It is a radical mandate to change our hearts; for only in changing our own hearts can we ever hope to change the hearts of others.
Keith G. Kondrich, Swisshelm Park
Peduto on Pittsburgh terrorist bomb plot
Had the refugee’s plot been carried out (“Syrian refugee charged with plotting to bomb Pittsburgh church”), Mayor Bill Peduto would have known how to shine. Virtue-signaling his way through the myriad of press conferences like a virtuoso, he’d condemn any animosity Pittsburghers might dare have, sermonize ad nauseam in an attempt to show how loving and caring he is, and blame any weapons used.
With the plot nipped in the bud, Peduto is at a loss for words other than to reiterate his commitment to Syrian immigration to our region.
Ed McCauley, Peters
Standing up to China on trade
Here’s why President Donald Trump needed to stand up for American workers and stop the bleeding on our economy: Our trade deficit with China went from $29 billion to $83 billion under President Bill Clinton between 1994-2000; from $83 billion to $268 billion under President George W. Bush from 2001-08; and from $226 billion to $346 billion under President Barack Obama from 2009-2016. Under Trump, the deficit was $375 billion in 2017 and $419 billion in 2018.
It’s about time a president stood up to the Chinese, who have been abusing the U.S. long enough. Finally a president puts Americans and, of course, American workers, first.
Bob Logue, Redstone Township
Pa. Supreme Court fails us on fracking
The article “Experts: Allegheny Township fracking case highlights importance of local elections” disturbingly shows how unconventional gas drilling could soon take place even in residential areas. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s cowardly decision to refuse to hear the case will profoundly and negatively disrupt forever the quality of people’s lives.
The high court has betrayed and made a mockery of the ideals it trumpeted in its Robinson Township decision, accurately proclaiming then how unconventional drilling will detrimentally affect our environment, people and future generations. The court’s failure to deal constitutionally with the environmental and health effects in subsequent cases defies logic. There is no excuse for capitulation to the privileged gas industry.
The Willowbrook Road families who bravely fought this industrial encroachment are to be commended and applauded. Unlike other timid souls, they put their money and voices where it was supposed to count, our judicial system. What was found, however, is a system with no justice for the common man when the rich and powerful corporate interests are financially able to rig that system in their favor.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, once considered the “firewall” against injustice, is now the supporting though indecisive voice for a dirty and polluting industry with we, the people, the losers.
Ron Slabe, Oakmont