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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Most moms can't choose to stay home with kids

How lucky that Ann Romney was able to "choose" to be a full-time, stay-at-home mother. Most women do not have that choice. They have to be a full-time mother and a full-time worker. They have to go out in the morning (after getting the kids off to school) to earn the money for the bacon. Then, on the way home from work, they get to shop for the best price for the bacon and then go home and cook it. They get to take the kids to outside activities and help with homework. Next morning, they get up and do it all over again.

I take exception with the word "choice." It would have been great if I could have gone to daytime school functions with my son's class, but I had to work to help pay for the bacon. I am now retired, but I did not "choose" to work outside of our home. I needed to work to supplement my husband's paycheck. So I chose instead to miss school functions unless they were after 5 p.m. Maybe women in Romney's social class get a choice about whether to be a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. The rest of us do not have that choice.

Candy Hayes



Romney's comment on work was telling

Ann Romney may be upset that an independent commentator, while considering her inability to relate to poor and working-class women, said that her staying home to raise her children wasn't work. But her husband feels differently.

As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney attempted to require that mothers work outside the home to retain their government benefits. And on Jan. 4, he told a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, "I said, for instance, that even if you have a child 2 years of age, you need to go to work. It'll cost the state more providing that day care, but I want the individuals to have the dignity of work."

As spendthrift as he may be, Romney believes that a woman staying home to raise her children is so lacking in dignity that he literally wants government to spend more of our tax dollars to give her the worth that, he contends, only working outside the home can bring.

Lawrence Congdon



Ellicott Creek bears the scars of neglect

Whenever I canoe down Ellicott Creek, I am confronted with the harsh reality that we have neglected this natural resource. I am trying to escape society, but human destruction is everywhere. Garbage and an electric wire block my path.

The creek is pretty to picnic near, but not important enough to clean up. Glen Park looks beautiful where tourists go, but when one hikes paths along the creek leading to the retirement home, one realizes how neglected this area really is. Glass, plastic bags and bottles are everywhere. A yearly cleanup day for Glen Park is not enough.

Park and Westwood Country Clubs, which own substantial waterfront property on the creek, constantly fill it with stray golf balls. Next the journey down the creek is blocked by a fallen tree, behind a house on Indian Trail Road. Electric wire fell to a foot above the water and remained there for more than a month on the Amherst Highway Department property. It has not been fixed. Instead, the view from land has been blocked with a stack of dumpsters.

Near the University at Buffalo and the Amherst Bike Path, the creek is channeled to avoid flooding and water flow slows. Then the creek goes under the highway. It is disgusting, with smelly leaves and mud that one can hardly paddle through. From then on, pipes drain road water into the creek and green algae grows on top of it. It's fine in a motorboat, but I pity the poor creatures that call this part of the creek their home.

This creek is a community resource that should not be neglected this way. People need to fix what they have destroyed, respect nature and stop littering.

Justine Miller



Let's all pitch in and pick up litter

It's like a trend nowadays to blame everything on the government. Too many potholes, a tough economy, staggering national debt and so on. But who is to blame when it comes to our dirty neighborhoods? Should we blame the sanitation department for not cleaning the streets adequately? Or our neighborhood stores for not cleaning their patrons' garbage? Or maybe our lazy neighbor who doesn't clean his or her front yard? Whichever makes you feel good and not guilty, pick that one.

Why is it so hard to take the blame? Our neighborhoods represent us -- they tell a story, they portray us and they deserve fair treatment from all of us. We don't have to be adroits, all we need is some extra effort to do the job. We clean our houses, so why not our neighborhoods?

It doesn't take a lot to pick up that empty can or that plastic bag that's been stuck in the perennials since fall. I see firefighters and cops saving lives, I see my garbage picked up every week and I see people demolishing the old and abandoned houses to make our neighborhoods look good. But I don't see the effort that should be coming from us as responsible citizens of Buffalo.

We are guilty, but still hesitate to rectify and wait for others to take the initiative. Just paying our taxes and closing our eyes won't solve the problems. Let's exalt our neighborhoods back to the same grandeur of which our elders talked about. So go ahead and grab that leaf rake, garbage bags and graffiti remover, and let's do the job outside the house. I bet you will see a smile on your neighbor's face as well as on your mayor's.

Shahzad Malik



Writer has no clue how penny cup works

Could someone please explain to the April 16 letter writer what the penny cup is for and where the pennies come from. He certainly doesn't have a clue as to the concept of the penny cup.

I go to pay my bill, and it comes to $10.98. I don't have 98 cents in change so I give the cashier $11. Not wanting to open my change purse or drop the 2 cents in my purse or pocket, I say "keep the change" or leave it on the counter.

Many people have left their pennies on the counter, so many places put out a cup to corral them -- the penny cup.

So the next time my bill or someone else's bill comes to $9.02, instead of digging for that 2 cents or breaking another whole dollar, they grab the 2 cents in the penny cup to use toward their bill.

It has nothing to do with a crooked cashier, slovenly business practices or any of the other reasons he cited. I contribute to and use the penny cup at several of the fantastic restaurants and businesses I frequent.

Gail Niezgoda



Penny cup doesn't throw register off

A recent letter writer's concept of what a penny cup is used for is all wrong.

My son owns a pizzeria, and we have a penny cup. The penny cup is there to provide one, two or three pennies for orders that come up $3.81, $2.56, $4.23, etc. Sometimes customers abuse the penny cup concept by taking out 5, 10 or 15 cents to even out their bill. We hold our tongues when they do this. Most of our customers put their change into the penny cup or empty their pockets of all pennies, which they put into the penny cup.

When my son rings out the cash register at night, 99 percent of the time, it's right on the money. It makes me wonder what kind of establishments the writer patronizes?

Irene Pleban



Customers expected to pay their full bill

A recent letter writer is obviously missing the point of the penny cup. The customer is always expected to pay the full bill and the till should never be compromised.

The purpose of the penny cup is so the customer who is short a penny, or who has to dig for change when there is a long line, can simply take a few cents from the penny cup to pay his bill. Conversely, the customer who receives a few cents change can place it in the penny cup for another to use.

How this has a bearing on the ethics of the merchant or the cleanliness of the establishment escapes me.

Carol Adler



Using God to fill gaps is most unreasonable

A recent letter writer contended that atheism is unreasonable ("Reason Rally is serious misnomer"). However, all he has to offer is the classic God-of-the-gaps to fill out his "knowledge." That is to say, where there are gaps in our knowledge, theists simply offer God as the ultimate explanation.

But this is not reasonable. After all, before we were able to fill in gaps in our knowledge with rational, scientific explanations, we often got it wrong. We believed that God created stars, rainbows and natural disasters, that demons caused mental and physical sickness, that fertility goddesses were responsible for multiple births, etc.

However, thanks to the Hubble space telescope, we can now see a "nebular nursery" with our eyes. For years, we have known how stars are naturally formed. We now have physical evidence. We now have explanations for "acts of God," such as the shifting of tectonic plates causing earthquakes. We have since learned that rainbows are the natural result of the reflection of sunlight on drops of water. We now have modern medicine and psychiatry.

Theists always claim that "nothing creates nothing." But they have yet to satisfactorily answer the question, "If God exists, who or what created God?" Where is the evidence to back up the extraordinary claim that God has always existed, or that he exists outside space and time? Conversely, there is strong evidence suggesting that the universe was uncaused.

As Richard Dawkins, the featured speaker at the aptly named Reason Rally, has noted, most theists just do not have enough scientific imagination to see how life could have arisen without divine intervention, or to see how the universe could exist without a creator. However, nature is not nearly as lame as theists imagine it to be. On the contrary, the laws of nature are more complex and deeply mysterious than we can even imagine. Theists have need of a God, but nature needs no God whatsoever.

Norm R. Allen Jr.



Wilson should pay for stadium repairs

If Ralph Wilson has $100 million to pay to one football player, plus the other salaries, then he has enough money to repair his own stadium. The taxpayers should not be gouged anymore. Let the fans who buy the tickets pay for the repairs. My husband and I are not Bills, Sabres or Bisons fans and do not live and breathe by them. I'm tired of my hard-earned money paying for their toys, especially when my husband has been out of work.

Rosemary Winkelman