ELECTORAL COLLEGE SERVES VALUABLE PURPOSE
In his July 4th Viewpoints column, George Gates asserts that the Electoral College is "the Founding Father' biggest mistake," "against all good sense," and that the "system should be junked as soon as possible and replaced by a straight popular vote."
These assertions, along with his claim that "New Yorkers' votes don't count" reveal an astonishing ignorance of the American political system and the intent of America's Founders.
The Founders created the Electoral College for several good reasons. First, the absence of electronic media and modern methods of travel precluded candidates from conducting national campaigns.
Second, they were highly skeptical of the direct democracy of ancient Athens, leading the Founders instead to choose republican Rome as their model.
Third, the Founders created a federal republic in which state governments retained substantial sovereignty; Article II of the Constitution places the manner of choosing electors in the hands of the states. States have the ability to create a directly proportional system of allotting electoral votes at any time, but they have chosen the "winner-take-all" system instead because it increases the importance of each state in the election.
AMERICANS LOSING HEART FOR WAR ON TERROR
In a few hours on 9/1 1 we lost three times as many American lives as have been lost in over a year of combat in Iraq. On that day we were united in outrage and the desire for justice. We would, we avowed, go anywhere, pay any price.
Days passed . . . costs became real and battles difficult. Our citizenry flinched. Some of our leaders faltered and balked at supplementary funding to ensure the safety and success of the troops they'd agreed to deploy.
President Bush may pay a price for "staying the course" while others wavered. He'd warned that our endeavor would be expensive and protracted. Now his steadfastness may cause him to forfeit an incumbency.
Our soldiers are paying a cost. Their sacrifice should not be fodder for manipulative rhetoric by disingenuous dissenters who are unwilling to pay a price at all. There is a cost for freedom and vigilance.
CONGRESS SHOULD LEAVE TONGASS FOREST ALONE
Congress is considering whether to appropriate money to build roads in America's Alaskan rain forest -- the Tongass National Forest. The project will cost taxpayers $36 million a year and in the process will clear cut our rain forest.
This ill-advised "investment" will return a grand total of $1.2 million. Not a good way to spend our tax dollars or treat our rain forest.
Here's a great idea for Congress: Start by eliminating the $36 million that we lose by putting roads no one wants in America's rain forests in Alaska and help protect our forests in the bargain.
Valerie S. Underwood
EVEN BANANAS AREN'T SAFE FROM ADVERTISING
As I sat down to breakfast and began peeling a banana, a sticker on the skin showed a grinning cat with the slogan "See Garfield the movie." As if piles of spam E-mail, never-ending pop-ups and hijacked search engines on the computer are not enough, now even breakfast fruits carry the plague of relentless consumerism.
The newspaper grows in thickness with more and more inserts, mailboxes are stuffed with throw-away solicitations and TV is filled with commercials and the ultimate advertising monster, infomercials. It is truly symbolic that the commercials are often the most talked-about topic the day after the Super Bowl.
There seems to be no shame and no regard for decorum. If left unchecked, ads will overtake all available green space. Eventually, we may grow numb to it all as it becomes the status quo.
Michael S. Albert
LEGISLATURE MUST FIX PROBLEM WITH BEER KEG LAW
Gov. George Pataki signed a law that took effect in late November that was meant to discourage retailers from selling beer in kegs to minors and putting an end to underage binge drinking.
Among other requirements, beer merchants must hold a $75 deposit on kegs. This deposit will be forfeited if the keg is not returned within 30 days. A half keg of beer contains 165 12-ounce servings. So a person must consume over 41 servings per week or lose his $75 deposit. This law actually promotes binge drinking.
The Senate and Assembly realized this was a poorly calculated law, so the Senate made amendments to extend the return time to 90 days. The Assembly has yet to act.
Why does it take state legislators so long to repair a mistake they made to begin with? And if minors could buy beer in kegs before, what will stop them from purchasing beer in cans and bottles?
PHOTOGRAPHERS SHOULD BE FREE TO WORK IN PUBLIC PLACES
I am 77 years old, a photographer of Buffalo past and present. I have recorded Buffalo from the 1940s until the present time. The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Museum houses my black and white photographs of all the movie houses that graced downtown in its glory days, as well and historic buildings, and the street cars of the old I.R.C.
Last week, I attended Thursday at the Square and a police officer prohibited me from taking pictures, even though the area was not posted. I love to take pictures of the people, the faces, the tattoos, the beards, the boots, the bikes, etc., rather than the bands that come to entertain. I feel that this is an issue of freedom of the press.
If I am willing to walk the downtown streets to record Buffalo history, when many people I know will not venture into downtown, have I not won the right as a free citizen to take pictures of my beloved Buffalo, as I see fit?