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Everybody's Column

Obama's remarks sent shivers down my spine

President Obama's press conference Monday was an attempt to implicate the public in his inevitable stimulus bill signing ceremony. However, his use of campaign-style fear rhetoric had an adverse effect on me. His comment that "only government" can save the economy sent a shiver down my spine. It was said with such clarity and force, it terrified me.

Why so big, so fast? Why not smaller stimulus bills with broader support? Ny, catastrophe it is! Spend, distribute; gather to give paying interest in the process. Contrary to the bill at hand, I fear too much government control of our wealth in this democracy. Once a majority becomes dependent on government distribution, power is consolidated, progress stagnates and individual responsibility is lost. Unfortunately, as the president stated, my views represent an "ideological blockage" that are byproducts of a failed philosophy.

Michael Brooks

Buffalo

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Spa was simply trying to help its customers

This is in reference to the Off Main Street article titled "Facials to go" in reference to Blu Spa & Salon. We feel strongly that our purpose and message were grossly misrepresented. We are in a consumer-driven and consumer-oriented industry. Our clients expect and deserve exquisite attention to detail. This is our specialty.

The reporter described our drive-through facility and portrayed what we are doing as "out of hand," implying that this is excessive. Our intent was misrepresented, and the quotes in the article were taken out of context. During the holidays, people are running around trying to finish their shopping and errands. Our intent was to expedite and facilitate this process by using a drive-through window -- in essence, convenience.

We are in a difficult economy, to say the least. The News should not make fun of a local business that provides employment and a living for 20 individuals. We need all the help we can get.

Dina M. Santos

Owner, Blu Spa & Salon

West Seneca

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Retiree health benefits must be addressed now

Will future generations be able to address their current obligations as well as the liabilities they inherit? Many may have read in shock the Jan. 31 News article, "The time bomb for taxpayers." The University at Buffalo's recent study of the public sector's retiree health care liabilities documents one more example of the disgraceful effort of those we elect to look after the interests of taxpayers. Politicians are as complicit in bankrupting our future as Wall Street's CEO are to the present financial meltdown. Only recently have formerly concealed costs concerning underfunded health care promises become fully disclosed due to new government reporting standards.

Fortune Magazine's May 12, 2005, article "The great state health care giveaway" gave warning to the approaching fiscal implosion associated with our civil servants' negotiated entitlements. It said Buffalo's retiree health care cost will exceed 20 percent of the city's "haul" from property taxes. We can demand that our politicians take action now to readdress state and municipal government workers' health care expectations. If this state's public sector employees fail to make the necessary concessions, our shared insolvency will usher the changes on them.

Martin D. Coulter

Williamsville

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It's time for governor to listen to taxpayers

After 15 years of administrations in Albany not enforcing our cigarette tax laws on Indian to non-Indian sales, our Legislature and Gov. David Paterson have finally agreed on a new law that allows for collection of taxes where appropriate and gives our Native Americans access to all reasonable quantities of tax free smokes. Alas, all is not well!

In an astonishing ruling by State Supreme Court Justice Rose Sconiers, the state is barred from enforcing any provisions of our tax laws that would allow New York to begin collecting the billions of dollars that have been stolen from our tax roles by those few Indian smoke shop owners who have become multimillionaires. This ruling ignores the interests of those thousands of New York businesses and their employees who have thereby become disenfranchised.

Now it is up to our governor's resolve to blow the dust off of the tax exemption coupons that are at the Department of Taxation and begin collecting our taxes in the only way that has not been challenged. For all of the rhetoric that the governor has had to endure from those self-interested Indian merchants and their leadership, it is now time that he listen to the cry of New York's millions of taxpayers and the thousands of licensed retailers, tax agents and their tens of thousands of employees.

Arthur H. Katz

Executive Director, NYS Association of Wholesale Marketers & Distributors

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American automakers need to downsize lines

I believe it is well-beyond time for the American auto industry to make some major changes in its lineup. Downsizing has hit everyone and it, too, must take that step. All you have to do is look at the top two Japanese manufacturers. Honda has Acura and Toyota has Lexus.

Ford has Lincoln, but do we really need Mercury anymore? Then there is General Motors, which has Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Saturn, Cadillac, Hummer and GMC trucks. Does GM really need two pickup brands? Keep the GMC name for commercial lines only. Buick has to go the way of Oldsmobile, and keep Pontiac for performance vehicles only. As far as Hummer goes, see you later.

I can't forget the Chrysler Corp. It really only sells three models under the Chrysler name. Make them Dodge or get rid of them. Call your top vehicle the Dodge Chrysler if you can't figure out another way. Jeep should be sold at its own dealer locations, not with Dodge. This isn't rocket science, just common sense.

Darryl J. Schmid

Cheektowaga

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Why don't politicians offer to take a pay cut?

With the economy going down the tubes and our politicians scurrying around to find an answer to this dilemma, I fail to hear one of our so-called leaders mention anything about them taking a pay cut. If they took a 15 percent or 20 percent pay cut, it would not solve this problem but it would send a message that they are also trying. With all of the jobs being lost all over the country, a 15 percent or 20 percent cut would not harm them in the least.

Another way to save money is take away all of their perks, which they keep so secret. If we knew what our so-called leaders get in the way of perks, it would blow our mind. We are all in this mess together and I think we should all pitch in and help to solve this problem and not leave it totally to the constituents.

Theodore Winkowski

Hamburg

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