There are many calls for Pennsylvania to enact tougher ethics laws. The purpose of these laws is presumably to prevent elected officials from doing bad things, things which everybody agrees are bad, such as taking bribes in order to promote the briber’s wishes. But, I hope that the legislature does not enact such laws. To do so would be to commit yet another serious trauma to what it is that almost everybody agrees is appropriate behavior.
Behavior is not right or wrong, good or bad, wise or unwise, depending upon whether it is lawful or not, but rather upon whether the behavior reinforces or damages personal and societal beliefs and practices. Communities don’t work when they have to be based on laws. While the rule of law is one of mankind’s greatest creations, laws only need to exist because the majority needs to be able to enforce controversial actions such as the amount of taxes individuals are required to pay for purposes of protecting minorities from overzealous majorities.
We should not need laws to regulate what should be routine behavior; we do not need ot have a law to prevent us from spitting on your children, or a law to protect us from litigation when we help somebody who has tripped on the sidewalk and fallen down. When societies need to enact laws to prevent us from spitting on our children, helping others, or to prevent officials who are elected to represent their constituents from hurting those constituents by taking bribes, the society has already seriously deteriorated.
There’s a danger that Philadelphians asked again and again to dig into their pockets to personally help the city’s destitute schools will experience compassion fatigue, a term sometimes used to describe how overwhelmed caregivers for the critically ill and incapacitated feel.
To their credit, public education supporters haven’t given up on the schools yet. Twice recently, they rescued scholastic programs falling victim to budget cuts. Contributors donated $100,000 to continue a program conducted by a World Affairs Council staffer at Bodine International High School. Earlier, $10,000 was raised so the High School for Creative and Performing Arts could put on its annual spring show.
Other programs being shortchanged due to the district’s fiscal condition deserve help, too. But rather than depending on the mercurial kindness of strangers, all public schools should be adequately funded to provide the well-rounded education children need not just to compete, but to excel in today’s world.
If you are to believe Ed Rendell’s version of the facts and explanation as to why Kathleen Kane’s decision to drop possible bribery charges of elected public officials captured on tape than you must debunk and disbelieve the explanations put forth by District Attorney Seth Williams, who finds many inconsistencies in Kathleen Kane’s explanations to drop the case ("Kane made the right decision," March 26).
Much of what Kane did or didn’t do in Williams’ judgement are unworthy of accepted prosecutorial discretion and sound practices.
Williams indicates many of Kane’s discrepancies in his article including her assertion about where the case files were when she assumed her office.
So now Gov. Christie — and I’m no fan — is in trouble for using the term occupied territories for the West Bank, as opposed to disputed territories (“Christie shifts focus to future, woos donors,” March 30).
When did the terminology change? Did I miss something? Hasn’t the crisis in Palestine always been about the Israeli occupation?Francis Saba, Philadelphia
The state Public Utility Commission is facing unprecedented customer backlash and facing calls for action from legislators and consumers alike over electricity competition.
But in the rush to respond quickly to the escalating complaints, the PUC is missing an opportunity to broaden the public’s understanding about how the energy markets operate.
Over the sixteen years The Energy Co-op has been serving electricity in Pennsylvania, the public’s understanding of retail electricity has clearly evolved. However, the lack of familiarity with how the rest of energy markets operate is proving especially challenging in recent months.
All the Putin envy hawkish Americans have been expressing since the takeover of Crimea seems silly now that the Russian economy’s vulnerability to sanctions has become clearer. If President Obama can persuade Europe to put enough pressure on the Russian economy, Putin will have to rethink his expansionist goals.
The Russian stock market has been falling daily, and World Bank officials said Wednesday that the Russian economy is in danger of contraction if it is frozen out of Western investment and capital markets. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal has reported that while Russian officials deny their country is in a recession, they admit its economy isn’t growing.
President Vladimir Putin is enjoying high approval ratings in Russian polls for dealing harshly with Ukraine after it attempted to forge closer ties with the West. But those poll numbers would drop like a brick if the West imposed sanctions that cause the Russian economy to fall and workers to become jobless.
The Pennsylvania Prison Society has had the good fortune to work with the Mural Arts Program over the years. We have combined talents and ideas and have collaborated on projects that advance positive community spirit, enhance public safety, and promote a better quality of life.
Case in point. Families Interrupted is a mural on the side of a church in North Philadelphia. It involved the thoughts and opinions of the local community, the church congregation, returning citizens, families of offenders, youth and other key stakeholders. The message is one of hope but is based on the words and feelings of those in the neighborhood who are impacted by incarceration every day. It is part of the community and adds a presence that is important and thought provoking.
We firmly believe that art plays a critical role in the fabric of our lives. It may depict struggles as shown in Families Interrupted, or it may show nature and river settings. It cuts across obstacles while raising difficult issues in a visual and colorful portrayal of life moments.
By Harold Jackson
There’s an infamous scene in Birth of a Nation, D.W. Griffith’s groundbreaking yet despicable 1915 film, that depicts a session of the South Carolina legislature under the control of African Americans during the early days of Reconstruction. Outfitted in clashing clothes more likely to be worn by performers in a minstrel show, the black legislators swig whiskey, feast on chicken legs, prop their bare feet on desks, and stare lasciviously at two modestly attired symbols of white maidenhood peering down at the vulgar proceedings from the gallery.
The film was an unmitigated box-office success despite boycott efforts by the NAACP and others seeking racial harmony. Feminist social worker Jane Addams accused Griffith “of gathering the most vicious and grotesque individuals he could find among colored people, and showing them as representatives of the truth about the entire race.”