As we begin a new year, it is time to bring Pennsylvania government, especially its form of taxation, into the 21st century. Pennsylvania's 6 percent sales tax and the 3.07 percent personal income tax are both regressive taxes that punish the poor and reward the rich.
The sales tax needs to be lowered, and the flat income tax needs to be replaced with a graduated income tax, which would require an amendment to the state's constitution. To accomplish this, the voters would have to elect a progressive governor and a progressive Legislature in 2014.
The new governor, in addition to leading the Legislature, would have to lead the voters as well. I believe that the best qualified person to accomplish this monumental task is one of our current U.S. Senators, Bob Casey, and I encourage him to consider running for governor in 2014.
I am also challenging the leadership of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to get its act together to regain control of the legislature in 2014. It would be a difficult task, but it can be done by selling necessary tax reform to the voters.
All of our neighboring states have a graduated income tax, and it is time for Pennsylvania to enact one. The state's second highest in the nation corporate income tax rate (9.9 percent) should also be lowered. Pennsylvania needs to move forward into the 21st century.
Tax reform is needed. 2014 is the time for a change, and it's as easy as ABC, another Bob Casey, as our governor.
Every year, millions of animals in the United States alone are euthanized. Sadly, too few people adopt animals from animal shelters or private humane societies. Millions of people give up their pets due to a move, divorce, death, financial constraints and other reasons; this leads to shelters becoming over populated. Consequently, the staff must make the horrible and very hard decision of euthanizing animals who haven't been adopted.
By adopting from a shelter, humane society or breed rescue group, the number of animals that lose their lives could be significantly reduced. Ultimately, by adopting an animal from a shelter, you are saving two lives. You save the animal you've adopted and open a space for another animal.
Many people think that shelters are dirty places and that there must be something wrong with the animal since it was given up, but that's not the case.
Animals that arrive at shelters are examined and are given vaccinations and medical care. Animals are then screened under specific conditions to make sure that they are fit for adoption.
Often shelters can state whether an animal is good with other animals, children and if they are housebroken. Many animals are pure bred as well. There is also another big misunderstanding as to why animals end up in shelters. Most of the cases are all people causes and not because the animal is unfit as a family pet.
One of the biggest concerns when buying an animal is the money, and animal shelters are the cheapest way to go. On average the adoption fee is minimal, around $75. Compare that to the cost of a dog at a pet store or breeder which could run anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Animals from many shelters are already spayed and neutered or vaccinated which really brings down the cost.
Lastly, when buying from a shelter you are not supporting breeders or pet stores; they put profit before the welfare of the animal. For example, breeders will keep the parents of puppies in cages to be bred over and over again until they get too old and are then either killed or abandoned. In the end, there is no reason people should not adopt from a shelter or a rescue group. It's a win-win situation for the human and the animal. Remember, you save two lives when you adopt, not shop.
Remember when parents would suggest membership to centers operated by church organizations, with activities for teens such as Friday and Saturday night dances? Chaperones would show us and guide us through the two-step waltz, slow jitterbug, Charleston, etc. I recall one musician who stood out from many in our era of 1949 and 1950; he would have been 17 or 18 at the time, had a tall, slim build, wore this long white jacket, red or black bow tie (what ever the occasion was), black well tailored trousers, shiny black shoes, neat haircut, played several instruments from trombone to sax, and was picture perfect calm. He kept the rhythm upbeat. At times you just listened and you clapped.
Time passes. In 1975, you could be in a barber shop and bring this all up and someone would say, I remember him, that was Castie.
He was 20 years ahead of himself. When he played you paid attention and danced, especially to his rendition of Night Train.
Being unable to attend the pro-life march in Washington D.C. this month, I composed a letter to President Obama, which I would like to share with you:
Dear President Obama, I wish you, and your family a very happy and healthy new year.
As we start 2013 I wish with all my heart that our nation will pull together to make it a land of ‘True Freedom' for all people.
First, the pledge of your full support behind preventing gun violence, something has to change! We cannot have another Sandy Hook! All I could think of was those little angels, scared, bloody and lying dead on that cold floor.
Second, I wish to appeal to your heart as you did so well at Sandy Hook, the subject, abortion. Mr. President, please, please reverse this scourge from American soil.
Have you ever witnessed an abortion, or seen one on film? They, too, are scared, bloody, and laying dead on a cold table. The only difference between Sandy Hook and abortion is five years. One is killed with a bullet, the other with a medical instrument.
I am sure when you read your Bible, Matthew 13-16, where the King had all the babies killed after the birth of Jesus, which we call the Holy Innocence'.
David L. Faust Selinsgrove Casey Ritsick Mountain Top Joe DeLuca Wilkes-Barre Joan M. Ott Wilkes-Barre