Most adoptions make a difference

I was horrified to read the tragic story of 14-year-old Grace Packer's killing and dismemberment, allegedly by her adoptive mother and the mother's boyfriend ("Unspeakable," Monday). I am especially concerned that this unthinkable scenario will become associated with adoption. Grace was adopted when she was 3, and her adoptive mother was an adoption supervisor in Northampton County for seven years.

For 45 years, the Philadelphia-based National Adoption Center has been creating families for children, many with special needs, whose birth parents can't care for them. With the love and nurturing of adoptive parents, these children have been given their best hope of growing up as happy and productive adults.

We cannot let stories like this one overshadow the vast number of adoptions that make a difference in the way so many children grow up.

|Ken Mullner, executive director, National Adoption Center, Philadelphia,

Pa. needs to cut spending

The Inquirer editorial calling for optimism about the forthcoming state budget debate is well-warranted ("Avoid new budget war," Jan. 8), but the paper's policy prescriptions would shatter that optimism if adopted.

While Gov. Wolf has ruled out broad-based tax hikes, he's likely to offer an energy tax, which the Inquirer supports, to make natural gas companies pay their "fair share." This ill-defined slogan ignores all of the taxes these companies do pay, including an impact fee, which operates as a severance tax.

The editorial board also takes issue with tax relief, asserting this policy failed to boost economic growth. Yet, this analysis doesn't account for Pennsylvania's overall tax burden, which is the 15th highest in the country and continues to drive away residents.

Finally, the editorial identified tax relief as the source of the state's deficit. But the real problem is state spending, which, adjusted for inflation, has climbed by $10 billion since 2000. Taking more from taxpayers will never adequately address the lack of spending restraint.

|Bob Dick, senior policy analyst, Commonwealth Foundation, King of Prussia

Prisoners deserve treatment

I cannot believe the Inquirer would print a letter from a doctor who advocated the commonwealth commit murder by withholding medicine from a prisoner ("How much care for Abu-Jamal?" Jan. 8). It doesn't matter how heinous the crime; when the court mandated life in prison without parole for Mumia Abu-Jamal, it entered into a contract to treat the prisoner as a human being.

There are, unfortunately, thousands of prisoners, and each one will probably require medical services, some more expensive than others. Abu-Jamal evokes high emotion because he was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer, but it is immoral and probably illegal to pick and choose which prisoners receive treatment.

The medical profession goes to such great lengths to prolong life that living wills are required. Withholding medicine goes against everything it stands for.

|Ralph D. Bloch, Rydal,

Philly residents' tax burden

The new 1.5-cent-per-ounce beverage tax is in place and should go far in reducing obesity, at least for the working poor.

This tax, on top of toll increases for the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the increase to the state gasoline tax, will hit the working class the hardest, since they take a greater percentage of middle-class wages than upper-class income.

Don't forget to add the extra 2 percent in sales tax that Philadelphians pay. It shouldn't take long before Philadelphia is the showplace for slim, trim working people, especially the working poor.

This begs the question - when will a more balanced system of taxes be instituted in this city?

|Philip M. Sheridan, Philadelphia,

Don't blame immigrants

Post-Brexit England has no immigrants to pick strawberries for Wimbledon ("Brexit said to hurt U.K. farming," Monday). Yet that is exactly what Britain voted for. The pro-Brexit voters want people who look, think, and believe as they do, and now they have a dearth of immigrant labor. Sounding uncomfortably familiar, the English want back the life they remember.

At the time of the vote, Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin observed that the most pro-"Leave" town in Britain "has become the symbol of the discontents caused by globalization and the transatlantic tendency of populists pols to blame all of society's ills on immigration."

In our recent election, we also voted to become less tolerant of faces, lifestyles, and faiths that do not resemble our own. Do we really think life will be better surrounded by mirror images of our privileged selves?

|M. Courtenay Willcox, Wayne