>Social Security is sound, we need to preserve it
Social Security is not in trouble, as a Feb. 24 letter writer claimed. The payroll tax has exceeded cost every year since the 1930s. And the income tax on contributions is just gravy.
Recent excess payroll taxes have built a significant trust fund for baby boomers. When Social Security outgoes exceed incomes in a few years, that trust fund should come online. With the trust fund, Social Security is sound through mid-century. By then, the youngest boomers will be in their 80s and the millennial generation will be running the country.
Why are we suddenly worried about 40 years out when we normally can't see past the end of the quarter? I'll tell you why. Social Security is reaching imbalance again, the trust fund was misappropriated and politicians want to continue their revenue stream.
Blame Washington. Either tap trust fund treasuries or make Social Security pay-as-you-go. Pay-as-you-go means immediately reducing the payroll tax because there's no reason for continuing excess collections. Otherwise, don't buy into the "fix it now" nonsense.
Social Security is successful and more important than ever. Although many boomers have a multilegged stool, pensions, 401(k)s, savings, etc., future generations will likely rely more heavily on this social safety net. We must preserve it.
>Residents must demand accountability in Albany
The Obama administration has set up a Web site so that the American people can see how their tax dollars that bankrolled the stimulus package are being spent. The people of New York should demand a similar Web site from the Legislature in Albany. Particularly, the people of Western New York who have a great stake in what happens to the stimulus money coming to our state.
Buffalo and the surrounding communities have never received their due, either because of their lack of representation in Albany or because we as citizens have become too complacent.
With the current economy, no one can afford to be complacent anymore. We have been taxed to death in Western New York, while downstate seems to reap the benefits of our hard labors. If Albany is going to continue taxing everything from Coca-Cola to ski-lift tickets, we should know exactly where the money is going -- and where the billions of dollars in stimulus money is going. Western New Yorkers, who have borne the brunt of taxation without representation for years, need some serious accountability in Albany.
>Forget 'signature' span and build a twin bridge
A significant percentage of the local population is said to be supportive of a "signature" bridge. A larger percentage, however, is convinced such a bridge would do little if anything to improve this area's image.
While some proponents envision it symbolizing the renaissance of this much-maligned city, other advocates visualize it being a monument to the long and unique relationship between the United States and Canada. Opponents see a signature bridge as a costly, overblown misfit in a financially troubled region where practicality and expediency should be the priorities.
After more than a decade of studies, impact considerations, debates and design changes, the signature bridge has become a tired topic. The rejection of the latest design mandates a return to the drawing board. The hope of many is that restraint and common sense prevail.
Forget about impressing tourists with towers hundreds of feet high. When approaching an international bridge, the only thing that really matters is getting across and clearing customs in the least amount of time. As for the monument to the two countries, that was accomplished 80 years ago.
Bring a merciful end to this exasperating episode with a logical decision to build a twin to the remarkable bridge that has withstood the test of time.
Thomas L. Trabert Sr.
>State should institute across-the-board cuts
This economic time brings with it opportunity to scale back the size of all forms of government. We see daily in the news companies making hard decisions to cut wages, benefits and even benefits for the retired. It is time that we as citizens demand that all forms of government do the same.
We see New York and California in billions of dollars of debt and once again they look to the taxpayer to pay more. This dependency of going back to the taxpayer cannot continue, especially since there are less people carrying the tax load.
The typical method of cutting spending, which has the largest impact on the taxpayers in order to convince them that raising taxes is the only solution, cannot continue. I suggest that if the elected officials cannot find the fat that is evident in all layers of government and properly prioritize what is the most important in their budgets, then we need to make even percentage cuts across the board.
Private companies and families take this action when the budget does not balance, and we should expect no less from government.
>Bissonette has performed admirably amid tragedy
Amidst the tragedy of Flight 3407, one name stands out for the magnificent way in which the reporting of events was handled. As a former resident and retired teacher of the Clarence School District, I wish to commend Dave Bissonette, whose steady, quiet, direct and calm demeanor brought a sense of assurance that the matter was well in hand.
It was so refreshing to find that this gentleman, young in years, had the aplomb and steadiness in facing the residents in our area with such dignity, poise and reserve. Clarence is so blessed to have such a fine gentleman as its coordinator of emergency services. Kudos to Bissonette. He makes me so proud. I am sure Clarence citizens are also very proud of his outstanding work.
Edward A. Schmidt
>Hospital's hospice care was very disappointing
I was shocked when I received the Medicare summary paid to hospice of more than $6,000 for 10 days. They were supposed to care for my dad for two weeks in the hospital hospice room. After eight days (because he did not pass away) he was moved to a nursing facility, where you might say he died in the elevator while being moved. Nobody on the nursing floor -- staff, doctors or nurses -- could understand why they moved a dying man. They moved him from the comfort of his room to die with no dignity. Isn't hospice supposed to help maintain a patient's dignity? How dare they!