Ever hear the saying, “With friends like you, who needs enemies?” That’s what city employees ought to be saying about the Philadelphia City Council, which in its zeal to show its love for organized labor has vowed to fight Mayor Nutter’s request for the authority to furlough workers during an economic crisis.
All 16 Council members signed a letter that said since the recession is over, “austerity measures like forced unpaid leave, or furloughs” were no longer needed and that “it is difficult today to argue that those who fix our potholes, salt and shovel our streets, and process our business licenses deserve less than they currently receive."
That letter was an affront to the good taxpayers of Philadelphia whom the Council is supposed to represent. Nutter isn’t planning to furlough anyone now, but if the economy does turn sour again, the mayor wants that option. And it’s a good thing that he does. Anyone who paid attention to what was going on during the recession knows furloughs can prevent layoffs.
Every February, we honor the giants of the Civil Rights movement whose lives still affect us today. As we celebrate the achievements of the African-American community and the advances that have been made toward full racial equality, Black History Month reminds us that there is still work to be done, especially when it comes to equality in health care.
In the U.S. today, African-American women have access to health care that would improve both their lives and the lives of those around them. Today is the first time that health care access in the U.S. is a priority. However, we are acutely aware that lack of income and education are barriers to health care. We both got involved in organizing around the Affordable Care Act in the Philadelphia region because we know people do not have access to affordable, high-quality health care. This results in a number of African American families losing their loved ones from preventative illnesses such as breast cancer, cervical cancer and HIV. There are direct racial implications for these illnesses given that African American women are dying at higher rates than their white counterparts.
Under the ACA, insured Americans have access to critical preventive health care services such as annual wellness exams and contraception without copays, and they cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions like being HIV-positive, having breast cancer, or being a victim of domestic violence.
Since the birth of this nation and the rapid immigration of Catholics from Europe and South America into the United States, the Catholic Church has wielded its power and influence in any number of political issues (“An appropriate advocacy stance,” Feb. 9).
Although its views originally were focused on liberal issues, advocating for improvements in working conditions and the needs of the poor, the church has gradually evolved to embrace a more conservative stance and has joined with radical Protestant groups to further their views, most prominently, on women’s rights, abortion rights, and education.
In education, their unreasonable demands that local governments support (and write into law) vouchers, as well as other amenities such as busing, that are intended to support public school students, are absolutely political and woe be it to the candidate that opposes them. Because the Catholic school teachings are ingrained in every class throughout their schools, they should not expect those who do not believe to support them, not with taxes, laws, or money.
Your editorial ("Coke and Nike Know The Truth", Feb. 3) touched upon a brilliant concept for solving the climate crisis by making "polluters pay for the health and economic hardships they cause."
This concept is inherently fair and familiar. When we buy water, we pay a sewage tax for its disposal. When we buy tires, we pay a fee for the future disposal of those tires. Why then, should we be allowed to burn carbon-based fuels without paying for the damages it causes to the entire planet?
Imagine if, when we purchased fossil-fueled energy, we also had to pay for the health problems caused by pollution, for cities flooded by rising seas, or for the crop failure caused by a broken climate. If just a fraction of those costs were included in the price of "cheap" fossil energy, it would not look so cheap anymore. Such costs are no longer theoretical. The are real and potentially catastrophic. If we ignore them, they will not go away- they will just compound and accrue to our children who shall pay dearly for our selfishness.
The battle over the Keystone XL pipeline has created an insurmountable divide between the oil interests and the environmentalists, leaving many of us questioning why there cannot be some compromise that, while it may not entirely please either group, would provide both economic benefits and environmental protections for the country as a whole.
First of all, Keystone XL must agree to abide by the most stringent of environmental and safety regulations. This pipeline will be slicing through a large swath of our heartland, so we should be assured that there will be as little risk to, and disruption of, our environment and wildlife as possible. At present, Keystone XL's vision, supported by Big Oil, is nothing more than, "We will do our best, but accidents do happen." Not good enough. Keystone XL must accept constant government oversight; and Keystone XL must promulgate, and then stick to, clear and detailed plans regarding safety and construction.
Inevitably, something will go wrong, and there will be spills. If we have learned anything from the Exxon Valdez and BP disasters, it's that Big Oil is very content to let the taxpayers come to the rescue, not just with disaster funding, but through our Coast Guard and other government resources. After that, the people responsible for the incident look to "settle" for something less than what the taxpayers paid. Again, not good enough. Keystone XL should be required to establish a fund, under the control of our Department of the Interior, sufficient to cover the anticipated costs of remediating even the worst of occurrences. That way, when disaster strikes, we can use Keystone's money to handle the mess Keystone created.
I was disappointed to see a recent headline “1 shot, 1 killed in Chesco domestic dispute.” (Feb. 1) Not only because the violence epidemic in our region has become all too commonplace, but because this particular headline incorrectly framed a lethal case of intimate partner violence as merely a “dispute.”
Credit, however, goes to Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan who underscored the dangerous dynamics of domestic violence later in the article.
Like so many others, Mark Zandi’s column “Maximum impacts and minimum wages” (Jan. 26) leaves out the broader ramifications of increasing the minimum wage.
First, any discussions of the economic impact of raising the minimum wage have to be based on a much larger proportion of the population than just those who make the minimum. You cannot tell someone whose skills and quality of work justified making $4 or $5 an hour above minimum that their work is no longer as valuable, so their wages have to increase also. Therefore, when the minimum is increased, all wages up to a certain point have to increase.
I read "Back home, at least for now," (Feb. 2) with a troubled heart.
Brigido, Jose, and Elvin all have dreams -- not unlike the dreams of our ancestors. Each of these fathers has a dream so compelling he is willing to risk the impending dangers of multiple border crossings simply to offer his family a better way of life in the United States. While this article emphasizes "U.S. efforts to stem the flow of migrants" and the benefits of increased border security and "programs to prosecute illegal migrants" as deterrents to unauthorized immigration, our faith emphasizes the welcoming of strangers and being in solidarity with those who are marginalized by society.
As Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chestnut Hill we will continue to advocate for an immigration policy that addresses the root causes of unauthorized migration - poverty and lack of economic opportunity - as well as one that ensures family unity, protects the rights of immigrant workers, and provides a clear path to citizenship. With the U.S. Catholic Bishops (2003) we state unequivocally that "We stand in solidarity with you, our migrant brothers and sisters, and we will continue to advocate on your behalf for just and fair migration policies."