Enormous demand is fueling Exxon Mobil's record profits
Much has been written recently regarding Exxon Mobil's fourth-quarter profit of $10.71 billion, with some of our elected officials clamoring for an excise tax on the company's profits. A closer examination of the facts seems to tell a different story.
Exxon Mobil is a giant company, and its reported profits are based on quarterly revenues of $100 billion, yielding a profit margin of 10.71 percent, a very reasonable return. Exxon Mobil also paid more than $7 billion in income taxes on those earnings. Out of the profits, more than $6.8 billion was paid to the 2.5 million direct shareholders, as well as the millions more who own a stake through their mutual funds, 401(k)s and pensions. Another $5 billion was used to buy back outstanding shares, adding additional value for shareholders.
It's certainly easier to blast Exxon Mobil than the true culprits: ourselves. If we drove more fuel-efficient cars instead of gas-guzzling SUVs, there wouldn't be such an enormous demand for its products. We pay the lowest gasoline prices in the industrialized world, and we have gotten fat on it. With demand in China and India soaring, the high prices are here to stay. Quit whining, or do something about it.
Peter J. McGuire
Either withdraw troops or reinstate the draft
In a Feb. 3 News article, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld outlined his strategy for a "long war," which might last decades. In a Feb. 4 article, the Pentagon laid out its 20-year strategy for a "long war." I assume the commander in chief is in agreement.
War is a young men's and women's business. We can't keep sending the Reserves and the National Guard back to Iraq again and again. Besides, many of these soldiers are too old. We need to reinstate the draft. And we could get our patriotic 18- and 20-year-olds into the act if the Bush twins would sign up first.
An alternative to the draft might be to follow Congressman John Murtha's advice and begin our withdrawal immediately, now that Iraq is a free, democratic nation.
Buffalo ought to consider expanding pedestrian mall
A few days ago, I went to the open house regarding the proposed Cars Sharing Main Street project. There is $9 million available at this time for the project, however, it will cost more than $53 million to complete in the future. I suggest that we do something really different in downtown Buffalo and have a pedestrian mall stretching from St. Louis Church to St. Paul's Cathedral.
We can copy the concept from the cities in Europe where the old towns, especially Munich, have walking malls that attract thousands of people each day. Of course, we would have to build on our retail with shops, restaurants and other attractions, but it sure would put us on the map as being upscale. The current money could be utilized immediately for beautification with plantings, benches, storefronts, etc. If there is any left over, put it into the neighborhood business strips.
Marge Theilman Hastreiter
District should rethink plan to close School 77
This letter is totally unsolicited and based on my observation and 36 years of experience in the Buffalo Public School system. When I read that School 77, an early childhood center, was scheduled to close, I was totally shocked. Even though I am a retired administrator, I have been a substitute administrator at School 77 for the past three years. What have I learned? It is a school that works! It works because it has strong administrative leadership, a dedicated, hard-working, on-task staff and clerical personnel that excel in non-instructional matters. This is truly one of the school system's best-kept secrets. The academic program is strong and parents are welcome guests. Ask the parents what they think about the closing. They will tell you this school is one of the few good things they have on the West Side.
Clinton needs to fight for the state's taxpayers
I won't be eligible for Medicare Part D for a number of years, nevertheless, as Sen. Hillary Clinton said, I do feel abandoned. The good news is that she can do something so that we taxpayers can come in from the cold. She can go to Albany and tell the Legislature the madness and dysfunction have to stop.
She should tell Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that cost of living adjustments for state retirees on top of their very generous pension benefits are a luxury that has to go. The savings from the COLA alone will be hundreds of millions. She should tell the legislators to invite Amherst Supervisor Satish Mohan to Albany to explain that "public employees should get what the taxpayers get."
Clinton should tell them that we can provide quality health care for the needy for half of the $45 billion now spent. See Chemung County or Pennsylvania for the template. She should tell them that she would have moved heaven and earth to bring Wacker Chemie to Niagara Falls, if only someone had called.
And Clinton should remind her good friends in Albany that she promised economic reform, and forget about the White House until she and they unabandon Western New York taxpayers.
Depczynski has created a bad situation in park
We had been feeding the deer in Stiglmeier Park and the preserve since it opened without complaints. But then Anita Depczynski brought food and hay, right at the main entrance of the trails. People started bringing their garbage and other junk food -- cabbage, pumpkins, bread and cookies. Now it looks like a pigsty, with deer droppings and mud from the deer hoofs.
The deer congregate from 10 to 20 at a time. Many people bring their children up close. Deer are wild animals, and if one of them is spooked, the deer will jump and run wild in any direction. They could trample the kids and the adults, and then the town will be sued. As a taxpayer, I don't want this to happen. The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Stiglmeier Park Steering Committee have tried talking to Depczynski, but she does what she pleases. Issuing tickets was the only way to stop her. If she wants to feed animals, let her feed the stray cats and dogs.
Walter J. Wojdyla
Fillmore presidential library would help attract tourists
In April 2005, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum was opened in Springfield, Ill., and has since become a national tourist attraction. With a local man's presidency as part of our rich history, why not add an educational component into our effort to revitalize the city's waterfront? We should found the Millard Fillmore Presidential Library and Museum to celebrate both his presidency and Buffalo's rich history.
Think of the appeal of having one of only 14 presidential libraries alongside our other regional historic attractions. If we can build it and endow it, the Presidential Libraries Act provides for the federal government to take responsibility for maintaining it. Surely there must be funds available to jump-start such a project.
Mark D. Mambretti