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Everybody's Column

Capping credit card rates benefits lenders, economy

In the late 1990s, the credit card industry began to take advantage of Supreme Court decisions that allowed lenders to avoid state usury laws if lenders incorporated in states that had no such laws. At the time, New York had a usury cap of 16 percent on retail credit. Credit card interest rates began to soar. Default rates, sometimes triggered by just one late payment, went to 40 percent and higher. Rates once charged only by loan sharks became acceptable.

These tactics hurt everyone. Consumers who couldn't pay high interest rates unwillingly walked away from their debts. They have become an underclass. More significantly, those consumers who created our powerful, consumer-driven economy by purchasing with credit cards became afraid to make purchases. Nearly 75 percent of our economy depends on such purchases. If consumers don't buy, those who sell consumer products and provide consumer services don't work.

To encourage consumer spending, Congress needs to pass a federal usury law limiting consumer credit card interest rates to 8 percent and, on default, 18 percent. A portion of credit card interest once again should be made tax deductible as it was prior to 1986. Banks that can now borrow from the Fed at less than 1 percent will still make billions in profits. At lower credit card interest rates, people will buy more, more people will be put to work, income tax revenue will increase and, ironically, lenders will earn more.

Gabriel J. Ferber



Measure and compare windmill production

I was very interested in the article regarding the windmills at Bethlehem Steel. It's great that we are taking advantage of this green power source that we have in abundance on our waterfront, creating jobs and adding four more windmills in the near future. However, there is more to this story that needs to be explored. How much in subsidies does each windmill require, and what is the true cost to the taxpayer of each kilowatt hour generated? This could then be compared to coal, hydro, solar and nuclear, in order to get a clearer picture of the true cost of developing this green power source. As we look to more development of wind power, both land- and sea-based installations, we need to cut through the hype and see the actual value of this alternate power source.

Jim Willett

Engineering Manager

API Heat Transfer, Buffalo


Farewell to Buffalo, from a grateful native

I have recently been transferred to Wilmington, N.C., probably the only place I'd rather be than here. I'd just like to say, it's been a pleasure.

I grew up on Grand Island, left the area for a decade or so, then returned to raise my family. We lived in Lyndonville for 20 years and recently moved to Cheektowaga. I'm thankful my children received the multifaceted education available only in New York. The weather, the taxes, the food, the entertainment, Canada, the politics, the fishing, the hunting, the Bills, the Sabres, the summers, the falls, the winters and the springs have been marvelous and invigorating.

It's been a pleasure working here for the National Weather Service in a support function -- maintaining the radar and other equipment. It has a superb office here. Understaffed and underfunded, it still has to deal with the prevailing weather from two of the most active weather-generating machines in the world, Lakes Erie and Ontario. By geographical default, the office serves millions of people in the Toronto metro area, the Niagara Frontier and the counties surrounding Lake Ontario. And it still manages to be one of the most respected offices in the National Weather Service. It is an effective, efficient, friendly, courteous, helpful, cheerful, useful group of individuals, and Buffalo is lucky to have them here. Goodbye, Buffalo!

Paul Denny



Teacher just blogged the truth about kids

I applaud the Doylestown, Pa., teacher for saying in her blog what many teachers have been afraid to say. Some students are disengaged, whiny, tactless and frightfully dim. I'm sure she's speaking from her own experience. We've been coddling our children for much too long. The truth hurts. I think our students should be told what they're lacking. It's called constructive criticism. You then advise the student on ways to improve.

The parents of these students should be concerned, not outraged at this teacher's observations, and confer with the teachers on ways to help improve their children's academic skills. Shame on Abe Lucabaugh, the high school principal, for suspending Natalie Munroe and saying that she "has sacrificed her respect, her professionalism and her ethical standing as an educator, role model and mentor for students." Munroe is the opposite of that. I would bet that she would be welcomed in any school district in the country. I applaud her for sticking to her guns. She is the one who should be receiving an apology.

Francisco Diaz

West Seneca


Reducing the deficit is the way to solvency

The Aug. 3 editorial, "Washington fails America," was right on in most respects, such as reforming entitlements, including Medicare and Social Security. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted Social Security, he rightfully stated that the funds for that program were to be in trust and no future Congress or president should redirect them. Numerous succeeding administrations have been borrowing those funds, causing it to be in the state it is in today. Medicare is in the same fix. They can't last forever on that path. They have to be reformed. So do other entitlements.

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama have got us into debt by spending not billions, but trillions without any "change" in results. And guess what? They want to spend even more when times are worse than they were in 2008. We have to reduce that tremendous debt sooner rather than later.

The News was wrong in criticizing the leadership of John Boehner in going along with the tea party representatives. In fact, they were the only ones to pass worthwhile legislation. And guess who the tea party represents? The vast majority of Americans, who agree with the editorial. If Boehner hadn't gotten that legislation, as deficient as it is, through because of Reid and Obama, taxes would have been raised on those who are already carrying 70 percent of the tax burden and the ones who are producing the jobs under our capitalistic system. Also, the debt is somewhat being reduced and progress was made toward a balanced budget amendment. Hopefully, there will be more cuts in the deficit.

Richard D. Grisanti


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