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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Davis' suggestion has a lot of merit

I would like to comment on Jack Davis' statement that African-Americans should be bused out to the areas of crop picking and be given a decent wage for the work. Then the illegal migrant workers would be replaced with inner-city workers. I think that it is a great idea! His wording of targeting a particular nationality was wrong, but the idea was there.

Many inner-city residents have no transportation or wardrobe and not much education. The crops do not care what you are wearing, how much education you have or that you do not have a car. These workers will be given a decent wage, taxes will be paid and money will be spent in the Buffalo area. All jobs are important, no matter how small. I am sure that local towns have no problem filling trash-collection postions because employees get decent job benefits and wages. I feel that quite a few people would love to be employed no matter what the job is.

Rita Suhr-Perkins



Let's pay Americans a decent wage for job

Republican leaders are shocked that congressional candidate Jack Davis would rather pay Americans a decent wage than hire illegal aliens. That's what's wrong with the Republicans -- they talk a great game about illegal immigration but don't do anything. Sadly, their corporate backers would rather hire cheap foreign labor than pay Americans. We need Davis in Congress.

Craig Sieh



All illegal workers should be deported

I congratulate Jack Davis for his wonderful idea of deporting illegal farm workers. I can remember when farmers went to the city early in the morning to transport youths and women to work on their farms. However, this deportation does not go far enough. All illegal workers must go. Of course, the Republicans are against this because they would lose their cheap labor.

Also, in the matter of Social Security, I propose a Social Security tax on all earnings, no cap, for two years, solely paid into a separate fund, never to be touched except for Social Security. Thus, Social Security would be saved for all future seniors the way it was originally designed to be. This would be thanks to the rich, who we recently saved through taxpayer stimulus.

Norman Schueler

East Aurora


Why does ad campaign single out Christianity?

The Center for Inquiry's explanation of the timing for its new billboard is a thin one. It claims no intention of placing the ad during the Lenten season, however, that explanation is tough to accept when its other large media blitz occurs during Christmas.

It is also peculiar that the center's advertising focus is solely on Christianity. Why is Christianity singled out when there are two other religions that come from the Abrahamic tradition? To that end, it is not socially acceptable to defame Judaism and Islam in the same way. Any commentary on Judaism would lead to the center being labeled as anti-Semitic. Such accusations would be a detriment to the center; it would have increased difficulty in being considered a legitimate organization. Additionally, if the Center for Inquiry were to target Muslims during Ramadan, there would be a huge public reaction against it. Numerous outcries would be made on media outlets demanding both a public apology and removal of the sign. The unfortunate possibility of violent reaction would be present for those associated with the center.

Why does the Center for Inquiry not create media campaigns against Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism or any other religious groups? Simply, it would not have the same widespread effect like targeting Christianity. It is appalling that the center has such a specific target in its media campaigns. Its Web address advocates for no religion at all, but its practice certainly stops short of that.

Christopher Mazgaj



Life is very empty without God's values

You don't need God, according to some atheists. Yet most soldiers in foxholes appreciated God's presence, power and protection. As the old saying goes, "There are no atheists in foxholes." And now it may be said, "There are no atheists in tsunamis."

How many atheists see God when taking their last breath? God's billboards are in the sky -- the sun, the moon and more. Ad campaigns may promote atheistic values, but when atheists say, "You don't need God to hope, to care or to love" then what are the values promoted by atheists? Life is very empty without those values.

We know that God forgives, as evidenced by Jesus' last words on the cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."

Richard R. Romanowski, M.D.



Money for billboards could be better spent

I am writing in regard to the Center for Inquiry's billboards promoting atheism. I believe in God and it's all right if you don't. But wouldn't it have been a better investment in humanity if you had spent the money to aid Haiti or Japan? Do try to unite us as a people, not divide us.

Vita M. Milkie



Across-the-board cuts let all share the pain

Why is it that when there is a budget crunch -- which is pretty much every year, right? -- the layoffs always target the lowest pay grades? Why are layoffs of teachers, police officers or firefighters always the first ones mentioned? Why does no one ever lay off assistant commissioners or deputy directors? I'll bet that laying off two deputy directors would save the jobs of two cops and a school librarian.

And why is the solution always layoffs? If the budget has to be cut 9 percent, why not just cut each item in the budget 9 percent, including salaries and expense accounts? I, personally, would rather take a pay cut than lose my job, and I'm sure most people would agree with me.

Of course, the public service unions will scream like they're being stabbed, because they charge union dues based on a percentage of salary, and they don't want a 9 percent cut in their income. But what about all this talk of collective "sharing the suffering" I've been hearing bandied about? Shouldn't the union bosses have to share, too? And the politicians they buy with the dues money?

Linda Pfonner



Walk in workers' shoes before passing judgment

This is in response to the March 15 News article, "New York workers facing benefit envy." When I was young I got lucky and landed a job with General Motors in Tonawanda. Things were great. I was making great money, great benefits and a ton of overtime. Then in 1981 I was laid off. I had two small kids and a stay-at-home wife. The only job I could land was in the Department of Corrections as a corrections officer. All my friends called me crazy. Nobody wanted to work for the state. My base salary was $12,290, less than half of what I made at GM my last year.

I was forced to work 300 miles from my home with no relocation benefits. I was one of the lucky ones because I was back in the area in four months. But by then I had lost my house and was living in a small apartment in Attica. I made the best of it at a salary that was not comparable to the private sector. After 29 years in this department, I still hold three other part-time jobs. In 1982, no one wanted this job. Now that private-sector jobs and retirements are falling on hard times, people try to blame us for private-sector problems. I pay into our retirement every day with the amount of taxes we pay in this state.

Stop blaming private-sector mismanagement on state employees. Others had the same opportunity as I did to land a job that nobody wanted, so who's to blame? I've earned my retirement and still don't make the salary of a private-sector employee. This state treats us fairly and we love our jobs in spite of the fact that we work in a hostile environment and our lives are in jeopardy every time we come to work. Walk in our shoes before you make judgment and then your benefit envy will be long gone.

William Stranahan



Upstate reaps benefits of downstate revenue

Michael Bloomberg's accurate comments about Buffalo have triggered an absurd and embarrassing level of whining in these pages and on The Buffalo News website. Unsurprisingly, some of those who have excoriated New York's mayor -- and by extension, all of New York City -- as "arrogant" and "entitled" have also taken this opportunity to perpetuate one of this region's most popular lies -- that economically depressed Buffalo somehow subsidizes economically successful New York City.

It is time to set the record straight: Seven years ago, the Center for Governmental Research published a study titled "Balance of Revenue & Expenditure Among NYS Regions." It determined that "New York City and its suburbs, whether considered together or separately, are large net contributors to the rest of New York State" and that "upstate communities, both urban and rural, are significant net recipients of revenue from downstate." This subsidy is billions of dollars.

I urge other residents of this region to consider these facts before cheering public figures who speak of dividing New York State in half. To lower our taxes and raise our economic prospects, we must stop blaming others and instead look more closely at our own decisions: How much does it cost us to maintain dozens of local governments within Erie County alone? What opportunities has the city passed up while chasing "silver bullet" proposals? These and other questions represent a much more productive response to Bloomberg's remarks.

Chris Willett



Businesses encounter too many roadblocks

I have always said that Western New York craves failure. We wring our hands and lament our lack of growth, loss of jobs and the exodus of our young from the region. Then we turn around and throw up giant roadblocks to anyone who has the audacity to propose spending his money to build a job-producing enterprise.

The latest disappointment was Verizon's abandonment of a $4 billion data center in Niagara County. Unfortunately, Verizon didn't realize that Western New York is, apparently, happy with its sorry economic state. How dare Verizon rock the boat.

The message to large companies is clear: Don't even think of relocating here. You are not welcome. Small-minded people will block any plan that even hints of progress. It's simple. We are in love with our failures. We crave mediocrity. It is sad, but it's the truth.

Paul Weslow


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