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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Our 'social contract' has been bumped out of whack

To see what has gotten us into this economic mess, we should look no further than the Economic Policy Institute's study on where jobs are going. It found that American companies have created 1.4 million jobs this past year; the only problem is these jobs are overseas. These same companies have created less than 1 million jobs here in America.

This is the first tip of the three-prong attack on American economic society. When we have CEOs and the white-collar side of a company making many, many more times what their employees make annually, the outsourcing of jobs to cheaper areas around the globe and the push to dismantle unions and other worker rights, we see where the common worker falls into this equation.

Everyone has a right to earn money and to move up the ladder as one's merit dictates. I do not bash the leaders of the business community for hard work and long hours. But I also understand that a fundamental shift has occurred with the "social contract" between business leaders, workers and the larger community. This social contract once dictated more equity and communal concern than has been shown recently. The push to extend the Bush tax cuts shows this greed and makes plain where national Republican leaders place their "concern" and tears.

America has always exhibited itself as a dichotomous country. It goes as far back as Jefferson v. Hamilton and their dispute regarding the national banking system. The balance between individual capitalistic principles and the social contract has been bumped out of whack. Our unbalanced transition from a production to a consumption society will continue to line the pockets of the leaders at the expense of the workers. What will American posterity think of us? I guess the answer is "who cares?"

Shane E. Stephenson

Buffalo

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More diversity needed in stories in The News

This is in response to the Dec. 26 News article, "Advisers predict strong 2011 market." I find it impossible to believe that the reporter could find only white male investment advisers as sources for his article. I find it shameful that his "white males only" photos and article made it past the editor.

Below this article was another article titled, "Women still lag behind in workplace." Did the editor also not catch the irony in the juxtapositioning of these articles? With The News publishing this article, how could any young female or ethnic minority reading the paper think that the possibility even exists for a female or minority to become a financial adviser? And why would any female or ethnic reader believe that what the white males have to say would apply to them?

Please, Buffalo News, this is the 21st century!

Judith Spokes

Buffalo

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Special interest groups are destroying country

We are told that more than $3.5 billion was spent on the last election campaign. Some people euphemistically refer to this as campaign contributions, while more pragmatic voters characterize this as out-and-out bribery. Special interest groups retain lobbyists to write legislation and pump millions into politicians' coffers, who are then obligated to vote as they are instructed.

Just one example of this chicanery is the Wall Street and banking interests, which pour the greatest amount of money into political war chests. Their fraudulent activities precipitated a near catastrophe on the world's financial markets. Not only were they rescued from collapse by our congressional leaders, but not a single institution has been called to task for its misdeeds. As one senator put it, "They own Washington."

This is but one example of the power of lobbyists and how the average citizen is excluded from a voice.

We hear about political corruption in other nations, but it may well be that our American government is the most corrupt of all. Maybe it is time for the people to hire a lobbying firm to get our legislators to change the manner in which elections are financed. Special interest groups are destroying our nation.

Reed W. Bender

Tonawanda

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We have the means to clear snowy walks

If Buffalo is the City of Good Neighbors, I wish the suburbs would look to the city for inspiration. I am afraid I will see the name of someone I know killed or hurt because someone else chose not to clear a sidewalk.

My fears are with the major roadways: those with five lanes, no shoulders and people being forced to walk in the road, into traffic, because the sidewalks are impassable. What disheartens me is that some residents living on these high-traffic, deadly roadways go so far as to plow their driveways and parking lots into the sidewalks. With the litigious nature of our society, I would figure creating an 8-foot wall of snow would defy common sense. Instead, it seems to occur with a hope that no one sues.

I don't advocate waiting for a legal response but I do have two suggestions:

1.) Have the highway department cone off the right lane so pedestrians can move safely in the road. When plowing, this would keep the coned-off lane separate, allowing plows to move snow in a safer pattern.

2.) Localities could hire individuals to clear unplowed sidewalks. Interested individuals would get a permit and at a designated time, digitally photograph the blocked sidewalk, clear the sidewalk away from the road, then photograph the results. Residents would then get a bill at the end of the month/season for the clearing. A lower charge would cover neglected sidewalks, with a higher charge for maliciously blocked sidewalks. This would give the locality some money, provide money to caring community members and clear the sidewalks. Bills could simply be added to the owed taxes.

Either solution could prevent lost lives. Saving drivers and pedestrians could help the City of Good Neighbors keep its good name.

R. William Graf

West Seneca

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Scholar-athletes likely have supportive parents

Each year I scan the photos of the All-WNY Scholar-Athlete Team that appear in The News. On Dec. 31, 106 photos of these commendable scholar-athletes appeared under the heading "Class Acts." Of the 106 pictured I can discern but one black student, which is fairly typical of past years.

Perhaps the selection committee is very biased in its selection process, or perhaps a large black parental segment of our society has abandoned their responsibility to the children they brought into this world. I have reached my conclusion, and many will say it is not politically correct, but it is honestly and intelligently concluded.

A message to those responsible: Do something about it.

Richard L. Drew Sr.

Eden

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