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Everybody's Column

Let's level playing field, lift women out of poverty

Today, World Poverty Day, is an opportune time for us to reflect on the nature of poverty in our community and potential solutions. Twenty-nine percent of families in Buffalo live in poverty, making us the third-poorest large city in the country. Poverty rates increase during economic downturns.

Poverty is a women's issue. Nearly two out of three families living in poverty in our community have a woman as a head of household. One of the causes of poverty is the wage gap that occurs at every level of education. For instance, women with a bachelor's degree in Western New York earn on average $33,000 -- 40 percent less than men. Even working full time in the same occupation as men, women earn less on average. Early data around the economic turmoil in our country again shows that women are adversely affected. Thirty-two percent of women borrowers hold subprime mortgages versus 24 percent of men.

Women need to have a voice in defining the solutions. They must have a seat at the table at the local, state and federal levels for all economic-justice solutions. We also need to increase our philanthropic investments in women. Nationally less than 7 percent of funding goes to programs targeting women and girls, according to the Council on Foundations. By creating and funding programs that deal with specific issues and barriers facing women, the community will accelerate its fight against poverty.

Brigid Doherty

Executive Director WNY Women's Fund

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Citizens have become lazy and uninformed

In Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address, he spoke of the Civil War as the price all citizens had to pay for the wealth of a nation built upon the backs of slavery. This idea could be the foundation of a complete re-examination of our core values. Do we deserve to be where we are today?

"We the people" have become lazy. We are uninformed and misinformed. We don't bother to learn about issues and willingly accept "sound bites" regurgitated by corporate-owned media. Our democracy is slipping away incrementally. We don't notice and don't seem to care.

We demand endless amounts of imported Chinese goods with a bill that never comes due. We choose to drive gargantuan-sized SUVs knowing full well the world has a limited amount of oil and that carbon dioxide emissions are destroying the planet. Is this what we want to be? Do we want to disregard the well being of our children and their children? I don't think so.

Spencer A. Lingenfelter

Buffalo

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GOP campaign rallies take disturbing turn

At first, when I saw the crowd cheering on Sarah Palin during one of her high-powered, hockey-mom political appearances, I read eagerness, even passion in their faces. But a close-up camera shot revealed that what I mistook for eagerness was really hysteria. And passion, on closer examination, was more like rage.

Sadly, when I heard one of the angry ones -- standing in the shadow of raised arms and fists -- ask Palin how a man like Barack Obama could ever rise to the level of a presidential candidate, I realized that what I was watching and hearing had more in common with a rehearsal for a lynching than it did a typical, American political rally.

Norm Tederous

Williamsville

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Pitts' column on Palin was big disappointment

I have always been an admirer of Leonard Pitts. His editorials usually are thought-provoking and respectful. Sadly, his "Sarah six-pack" piece has given me pause. Much of this article was quite insulting and judgmental. In fact, it makes me wonder if there is not a bit of reverse prejudice here.

Sarah Palin has a great approval rating in Alaska. I can't help but wonder if she were a man, would she have this much scrutiny? How much have we analyzed past vice presidential candidates?

I don't know how she can be held accountable for a racial epithet of a supporter. This is the United States. Everyone has freedom of speech. I doubt that she endorsed this.

I know she has much to learn, and will have advisers to help her, just like Barack Obama will if he is elected. By the way, how many days in office has he had? He is the presidential candidate.

Everyone should know Obama's position on issues like a baby's right to life. He doesn't support bills that protect the innocent -- like the "born alive" legislation that protects the most innocent lives.

May God bless America and give us the right people for the job.

Luanne Leo

Williamsville

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Life-saving paramedics deserve a pay increase

I was shocked to hear that the emergency medical technicians who work for Rural/Metro Ambulance are paid less than $10 per hour. These caring people are depended on by the public, and never know where their next dispatched call will take them. They are first responders to many emergency situations, such as horrific traffic accidents, gunshot wounds, paralyzing strokes and sudden heart attacks, among many others.

You might depend on them to do CPR on your child who has fallen into a swimming pool or to use a defibrillator to restore your beating heart or that of a loved one. They are the link between the patient and the hospital and their dedication and unselfishness should not go unnoticed. The knowledge and training of these paramedics should be appreciated and rewarded, not admonished. They sustain life and check vital signs while transporting patients to the hospital.

How many lives have been saved because of the quick actions of a Rural/Metro employee? The monetary value of these life-saving workers surely justifies a pay increase.

Susan J. Netzel

Cheektowaga

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Volunteers should know efforts are appreciated

In response to the volunteer who encountered outrageous behavior from some participants in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, please do not be discouraged. I have participated in the walk for a number of years with a group of co-workers and friends. I walk not only for myself but also for others who have passed away or are still fighting the "good fight" against this disease.

The woman the writer described, who was only walking to get a free T-shirt, obviously has her priorities a little mixed up. She should be grateful that she is able to be a participant because there are many women who cannot. If she really needs a T-shirt that bad, she can have mine.

I applaud all of the volunteers who worked the event and cheered us on through the walk. We will see you next year. We couldn't do it without you.

Dee Earle

Dunkirk

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