Investment advisers offered poor advice
A recent letter wondering why only white male investment advisers were shown in The News' annual "Predictions" article pointed out an unfortunate truth in our business -- there are few women, and even fewer minorities, working as advisers. But even more unfortunate was the substance of that article, which made me think again what I think every year: This sends an unhealthy message to investors.
Like many investment advisers and financial planners, I discourage my clients from owning individual stocks; the business risk (of any individual company failing) is too great, and for someone who focuses on the middle-class client (as I do), it becomes impossible to properly diversify a small-to-moderate portfolio if I'm stuffing it with stocks.
What I read first in this upsetting article every year, before I get to the largely unsuccessful stock picks, is how the advisers fared last year: only two of them beat the market, and two actually managed to lose money in a year when the S&P 500 was up 15 percent.
I can think of no better illustration of why stock-picking is a bad strategy for all but the very largest investors, who might have enough capital to buy enough stocks to properly diversify. Placing sector bets on energy, financials, etc., is also unwise. For the average middle-class investor, using broad-based mutual funds or possibly ETFs is a much sounder strategy.
Tim Sobolewski, CFP
We must limit pollution from coal-fired plants
Western New York has always been heralded as a region ideal for raising children because of its reputation as a safe, family-oriented community. Today, this reputation is in jeopardy as the lives of our children and families are continuously threatened by dangerous pollutants spewed out by coal-fired power plants.
Over the next three years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will have the opportunity to solve these issues by providing new standards that limit dangerous pollution. Unfortunately, this opportunity to protect our health is being put at risk by the spin and scare tactics of polluters and their trade associations, which are successfully pressuring some in Congress to block or delay these potentially life-saving clean air standards.
I urge Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to stand up for the health of our families and oppose any effort to block these critical standards to reduce dangerous pollution from power plants and industrial facilities.
Vigorous arts scene plays multiple roles
A number of recent letters regarding the arts and government funding labor under the mistaken belief that the role of the arts in our community is that of mere amusement. While painting, music, architecture and the spoken and written word certainly can and do entertain, this is an unfortunately narrow view that misses out on by far the greater good the arts have to offer.
Erie County Executive Chris Collins certainly understands how the arts can be an economic engine, at least in attracting tourists to the county. But we need to go beyond these limited views, as argued so eloquently by Laurie Dean Torrell, executive director of the Just Buffalo Literary Center, in her recent Another Voice column. She points out one little-mentioned role, that of the arts as healer.
CEPA Gallery, Squeaky Wheel, Locust Street Neighborhood Art Center and many other groups offer arts-based programming for, as Torrell puts it, "children poor in means but not in imagination." Artists often seek out the more edgy parts of town simply because the rent is cheaper. As more artists move in, houses are fixed up, galleries fill vacant stores and a coffee shop becomes a neighborhood anchor. This is happening today in Midtown neighborhood with the Artists Lofts project, and also on Grant and Amherst streets.
Our community is divided in so many ways, by where we live, how much money we make and the color of our skin. The arts are a powerful force to bring us together, for a concert or a poetry reading, healing over divisions, knitting together our community.
A vigorous, living arts scene is critical to the well-being of any community. The arts teach, heal, create jobs and entertain. Our community is blessed to have such a vital creative community. It is to be fervently hoped that this fact may be ever more recognized, celebrated and funded just a bit more by our local governments.
Child needs guidance on healthier cooking
I don't enjoy raining on anyone's parade, especially a kid's, but I can't be the only person troubled by what I saw in The News' profile of a young chef in the Jan. 19 food section.
Let me say I am a teacher and appreciate and love kids in all shapes and sizes. This child was preparing his specialty -- a breaded chicken recipe that called for frying the poultry in one or two cups of oil. The suggested side dish was green beans sauteed in bacon grease with five slices of bacon crumbled over the top. I was thinking, how creatively unhealthy!
While I applaud this young man's culinary interest and efforts; I had to wonder if his parents are nutritionally oblivious. How can they encourage such greasy, oil-laden food? We are all being made aware of the problems with obese children and the myriad of lifelong health problems an early overweight status can bring. I encourage all parents to assist their children who are interested in cooking to do so healthily.
There are many healthy alternatives one can use. Substitute applesauce for some of the oil and sugar in baking. Use a spray-on olive or canola oil product and then broil an item instead of frying it; this reduces most of the oil. Roasted green beans and tons of other veggies can be done in the oven also. The key is to encourage creativity and good health. It is possible for all our sakes.
Don't criticize Collins for making needed cuts
I love to read this column so I know what my friends and neighbors are thinking. Sunday's multiple letters blasting Chris Collins for his desire to cut Medicaid really got me thinking.
How would all those letter writers like to be the seniors or working-class poor losing their home to unpaid taxes this year? Have you read the list? It's a really long one. Maybe some of these people could keep the homes they have worked for all their lives if the taxes went down 40 percent. Maybe some of those people who are just barely hanging on to their homes could afford a new pair of glasses for themselves.
Why does it appear that everyone castigating Collins seems to want a handout and everyone supporting him seems to be tired of paying for those handouts?