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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Children didn't create this economic disaster

As a parent of two children in public schools and a supporter of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in last year's election, I was stunned to read in this newspaper that Cuomo has proposed in his first budget to cut $1.5 billion from education while simultaneously giving a $4.6 billion tax cut to millionaires.

"Sell the young to feed the rich" cannot be the policy of a rational society. We cannot survive as a nation by behaving this way. We have already handed our kids a colossal public debt for benefits we enjoyed. Should we now cripple their ability to pay it off by taking away from their education?

Or how about this brilliant idea? Let us now, in this time of economic crisis, sacrifice our own children's education in order to give a plump tax cut to the same investment bankers who created the crisis in the first place.

It's insane! I am increasingly of the opinion that this generation does not deserve the nation it inherited. If we are now fiscally bankrupt, it is only because we are morally and rationally bankrupt as well. We have stolen from two generations -- our parents and our children -- in order to enrich ourselves. And we have neither the sense nor the decency to stop doing it.

Kids didn't create the current economic mess. Adults did. So let the adults pay for it. That's not rocket science; it's just the right thing to do.

Leonard Flier

Collins

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Politicians' behavior in Depew is disgraceful

I live in Depew and after reading the latest report on the election, I've decided that a humorist must have written the article. Really? The candidates will not discuss the issues until after the election, but cheerfully admit that if a friend or relative is qualified, they would be hired for a job in the village.

Calls to a member of the Preservation Party did not elicit any information for The News to publish because "we don't trust you." To what? Disseminate a stand on which I might base my voting? I got a mailing this week and I'm memorizing the names of all the people on it so I don't accidentally vote for them. At best, their behavior is sneaky. At worst, it's reminiscent of politics in the early 19th century.

Rebecca J. Arcese

Depew

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There's nothing wrong with a hard day's work

For a number of years now, The News has reported that the highest unemployment rate in Western New York is among the black youth of the City of Buffalo. A political candidate in the March 15 edition is being crucified as being a bigot, because he came up with a possible solution to diminish the unemployment problem.

This is not a new idea. The practice of taking city youth to work as day laborers on farms was prevalent in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I know first hand what it was to be picked up at 7 a.m. and returned at 7 p.m. after working in the hot sun picking strawberries at 5 cents per quart and beans at 2.5 to 3 cents per pound. I did not feel ashamed, I did not die, but I learned how to work hard to attain my just reward of up to $8 per day.

The experience taught me a very impressive lesson. I'm not going to work like this for the rest of my life. I'm going to stay in school, go to college and do something that I really enjoy. And guess what? I succeeded. I still put in a good day's toil. I am only 72, but wondering if my Social Security check will still be in my future.

Productive work is a reward unto itself. Do the imported Latino farm workers pay Social Security, or do they just eliminate the possible employment for the youth of Western New York? Isn't it funny that the affluent members of society are asked to volunteer their services for the less fortunate, but when the unemployed are asked to do something, it's considered an underpaid, degrading endeavor?

Daniel S. Kopec

Orchard Park

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As labor unions decline, the middle class shrinks

I get it. It's OK for the American Medical Association, American Bar Association and American Dental Association to collectively work for the rights of doctors, lawyers and dentists. There are no howls of injustice when armies of lobbyists represent unions of agribusiness, realtors, insurance conglomerates, Chambers of Commerce or manufacturers. Foreign governments and business can collectively lobby Congress for free trade and allow unsafe products, made with child and slave labor, to enter the United States. No one seems to care about these collective bargaining efforts, so long as no one calls them unions.

But let the people upon whose working and paying shoulders this economy rests bargain collectively, and somehow they become the enemy. You know, the enemy that got us such travesties as the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, health insurance, equal pay for women, sick time and retirement benefits.

Instead of turning on their unionized brothers and sisters at the behest of right-wing attack dogs, non-union workers should stop sniping and start fighting. As the union movement has declined, so has the plight of our workers.

The United States has become a plutocracy where numbers and money equal clout. Individual workers have zero clout -- unionized ones do. Wake up and organize.

Stanley R. Pietras

Grand Island

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Catholic schools waiting for state reimbursement

I wonder how many people are aware of the fact that New York State is extremely delinquent in reimbursing Catholic and independent schools for their compliance with state mandates and participation in state programs -- in direct violation of the 37-year-old Mandated Service Reimbursement statute?

The state is delinquent on more than $260 million in reimbursements to religious and independent schools for mandates already carried out by schools, dating back as far as the 2002-03 school year. This results in forcing our schools to raise tuition and/or reduce services to students, while their parents are paying tuition as well as their property taxes. Meanwhile, the public schools are being fully reimbursed. Isn't this discrimination?

Catholic and other religious and independent schools educate nearly 500,000 children, saving New York's taxpayers $8.5 billion each year. The parents of these children deserve a fair share of their tax dollars. Many Catholic schools have closed, with the children forced to attend public schools due to the costs involved in private schools.

The resulting cost of having to educate more children in public schools only exacerbates the financial crisis with which lawmakers are grappling. New York State has budget problems, but it certainly should be required to live up to its obligations.

Dolores Kurzdorfer

Amherst

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