Letters To The Editor 9/2/2018

September 2, 2018

Blight solutions

Editor: I read with interest the recent Times-Tribune article on the Lackawanna County blight task force.

It is a good concept. However, the committee should consider a multipronged approach. I offer the following suggestions:

■ Work with state legislators to implement a program similar to New York state’s STAR program, so seniors over 62 with no children in school can get school tax relief. This could be done on a sliding scale basis depending on income. The revenue could come from the existing sin taxes that currently are levied. Seniors will then have more money to maintain their homes.

■ Work with banks and mortgage companies to make them accountable for the maintenance of foreclosed properties. Make them market the properties in a timely manner, secure and maintain the properties, cut the grass and remove snow.

■ Work with elected officials in boroughs and townships to identify the blight and the properties on the Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau repository list to sell and turn these properties around.

■ Finally, get busy with repository list land parcels in Covington, Thornhurst, Scott and Benton townships to get them back into tax-producing status and in the hands of owners who will at least cut the grass and eliminate blight.

This committee must be more than a paper tiger. It must be a force to eliminate blight and help expand the stagnant tax base of the county. This is a good concept but it must be much more than a concept to be beneficial.



Editor’s note: The writer is a former director of the Lackawanna County Tax Claim Bureau.


Praise for faithful

Editor: “Don’t call me a saint. I don’t want to be dismissed so easily,” Catholic social activist Dorothy Day said.

The horrifying scandal in the Catholic Church is abhorrent and revolting. The reaction to it by the church hierarchy is equally so. But before the church self-immolates let’s remember where the heart and soul beats in this venerable, ancient institution. That would be the common laity, the anonymous.

Don’t forget all the wonderful priests, nuns, social activists and parishioners who have done yeoman’s work to help the suffering and afflicted, the landless and abused, the outsider and those who hurt. Remember historical figures such as Dorothy Day, who started the Catholic Workers Movement, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., who formed the anti-nuclear-weapons movement Plowshares, and Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero, who put his life on the line and was murdered by a right-wing death squad in El Salvador.

Indeed, these are dark days in the church’s history. Yet let us also not forget the immense good the church has done despite its unconscionable power structure.

As Lord Acton, a 19th century British politician, said, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.”




Trade blowback

Editor: Economists, trade associations and businesses want President Trump to back off his aggressive trade policy.

There is concern that an understanding is lacking that international economics is not a game where those with a trade surplus win and that disruption of global supply chains hurts almost everyone.

The situation involving Harley-Davidson’s decision to move some production to Europe confirms that the Trump economic team does not fully comprehend how American businesses function. When Trump put a 25 percent tariff on imported steel the cost of raw material to manufacture motorcycles increased. The retaliation by the European Union also caused the price of cycles purchased in Europe to increase.

This double impact caused Harley to plan to shift some cycle production to Europe to avoid the steel tariffs and tariffs on cycles sold in Europe. This will allow Harley to maximize shareholder value and it was an entirely predictable reaction to Trump’s signature economic policy. Nevertheless, Trump was infuriated that Harley would “surrender” to Europe and threatened to punish the company with taxes “like never before.”

Harley is not a big player in the U.S. economy and its motorcycle unit employed

only about 5,000 workers. But the story is significant because of the outrageous response from Trump as predictable reactions to his trade policies play out. What did he expect? Did he believe the whole world would bow down to American economic power?

Trump must understand that his immigration policy of separating families and putting the kids in cages is relatively safe. The kids can’t fight back. But antagonizing our trade partners has consequences and they can be severe.




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