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Letters to the Editor for July 8

Sunday, July 8, 2012
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Food stamp dollars should be restricted to healthy foods

In response to the July 1 editorial on food stamps, I agree wholeheartedly that the SNAP [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] allowance should be restricted to nutritional foods. The WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program (for needy pregnant and nursing women, and children through age 5) is specific as to what can be redeemed on each coupon — sometimes overly so.

For instance, each coupon has a list of items, all of which must be purchased in the specified sizes. If one item is unavailable, the entire lot must be re-shelved. No substitutions are permitted! If one wants to get part of the list and is willing to forfeit the rest, that’s also a no-go. So many people end up with more milk than they need and give it away! When someone tries to use a manufacturer’s coupon to reduce the taxpayer’s cost, the cashier doesn’t understand.

Both SNAP and WIC certainly need revamping. Nutritional counseling is available at sites where eligible recipients sign up for benefits. If they would heed this information, they would improve their overall health as well as save tax dollars in our Medicaid and Medicare systems. But, hey, if you’re not paying into it, who cares? Apparently McDonald’s coupons are also subsidized by tax dollars and provided to underprivileged patrons, encouraging them to consume fast food. How can this be tolerated?

I agree with the editor that subsidized food benefits should be tracked and should be for healthy food only. The one point I disagree on is the statement that healthy food is unaffordable compared to other choices. Just make some unit-size price comparisons in your grocery store, and you will be convinced. For instance, a bag of potatoes on sale is 40 cents per pound while one bag of potato chips is $4 per pound. Yes, chips cost 10 times more than potatoes, which are versatile and can make several meals.

Compare canned beans or chili to homemade, using dried beans. Compare any snack to fresh fruit. It’s unnecessary to buy organic — just wash well. Homemade foods are generally more nutritious than prepared foods. If the time factor is a concern, simply make one large pot of soup and save it in several freezer bags to thaw as needed. By making one large batch (chili, soup, casserole, stew) weekly, you can rotate several meals to enjoy a variety of delicious, nutritious, inexpensive meals.

Our family of five (including three teens) spends $300 per month on food without assistance. We had steak fajitas last night; all the ingredients were bought on sale. You, too, can eat better on less.

Rochelle Runyon

Ballston Lake

If there’s a God Particle, what does it tell us?

Regarding the July 3 AP article on the Higgs boson, which you and other media are calling the “God Particle.” It is quite a catchy title, but I note that in all the coverage no scientist had referred to the Higgs boson as a God Particle.

Apparently, these scientists haven’t the ability to understand what they have discovered. The God Particle really carries a heavy philosophical weight if we are able to extract from it the true word. Think about it, if the Higgs boson is as described, a God Particle, the basis for all reality, then shouldn’t we be able to follow its ramifications out through to its consequences and instructions for humankind?

In other words, in the Higgs boson lies the truth if it is truly, as is said, a God Particle. If we study the Higgs boson and all its implications, we might see that killing a cow a certain way is exactly what we should be doing, or maybe we would find that praying five times a day is required, or loving our neighbor as ourselves, or sacrificing a chicken, or men on this side women on that side, covering our heads, or lighting incense, or wearing a “God With Us” belt buckle holding up our military trousers. Who knows?

Now it is time for the scientists to get out of the way and let our religious leaders figure out how we should live according to the God Particle.

Jim Wojtkowski

Latham

Overdue payment was hidden in Princetown

Terri Smith’s June 22 letter stated that Melanie Whiteley, the former Princetown supervisor, “made an error for not paying a bill last year, an honest human error.” I would like to suggest that this was not an error!

By law a town cannot contract to have highway work done without prior approval from the Town Board, and the contract must be in writing. The bill that was not paid arrived in June 2011 and was not presented to the Town Board for approval as required by law. Although the paving company billed the town each month starting in June, Ms. Whiteley did not present it to the Town Board until the last week of the year.

During the campaign, Ms. Whiteley boasted that she was $60,000 under budget. Perhaps if she was honest and reported the invoice for the paving that was long overdue and another invoice for highway work from the county, voters would have learned that she actually overspent the highway budget. In 2011, expenses exceeded revenue for the town.

Ms. Smith accused Mr. [Supervisor Michael] Joyce and his slate of distributing a flier that contained erroneous budget numbers and “was obviously dishonest in its implications.” Perhaps if Ms. Smith checked with the town’s bookkeeper she would have discovered that Mr. Joyce was honest with his information. I noticed that Ms. Smith failed to actually state specifically what was dishonest in the flier.

Ms. Whiteley not only prevented the Town Board from knowing these invoices were overdue, but she submitted the 2012 town budget without including these invoices!

Norman Miller

Princetown

Libertarians don’t like it, but health care act good

I love optimists, even very conservative libertarian optimists like George Will — if they are as brilliant as he.

In his July 1 Gazette column, Will claimed that “Conservatives won a substantial victory” when the Roberts Court upheld the constitutionality of the Obama health care act.

It reminds me of what a Greek King, Pyrrhus, who fought and “won” a huge, costly battle with the Romans said: “One more such victory and we are undone.” George Will, however, has a different view. He argues that in rejecting the Obama administration’s major rationale for the bill, while upholding it on other grounds, the court has advanced the cause of state’s rights and put a bridle on the federal government.

State’s rights are often used by conservative libertarians for wishing government to do nothing. Ludwig von Mises, a now-dead Austrian economist and a conservative-libertarian icon, argued most passionately for this view. “It is important to remember,” he wrote, “that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policeman, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing and imprisoning.”

I do not at all believe that. I do believe that government must be free, open, responsive, restrained and smart. The “smart” includes being financially prudent. And I believe that the Obama health care act is a piece of wise and compassionate legislation — and will be so regarded by future generations.

Arnold B. Ritterband, M.D.

Niskayuna

Mexicans immigrants now, but were here first

The president has issued an executive order that all illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents as children and who are now between the ages of 15 and 30 can avoid deportation and get work permits.

Most of those immigrants will be Mexican, and most Americans don’t know that we got Texas by stealing it from Mexico (after the Spanish stole it from the Indians), a country at that time where all of its people — Spanish, Indian and Mestizo — had equal legal rights, even slaves.

When Texas became a part of the United States, it entered the country as a slave state where slaves had no rights. It is ironic that the United States, a “democracy” then, had states that were “slave.”

We should be giving Texas back to Mexico, as this would be the only fair thing to do, but, of course, that will never happen. Instead, the right will keep complaining about all the “Americans” who will lose their jobs to “foreigners.”

K.C. Halloran

Melrose

Health care passed, but poor still can’t afford it

Re June 29 editorial: “Roberts rules and health law lives,” I have to wonder what the Democrats have on Roberts for him to do this. I did not vote for Obama because he ran claiming to oppose the “mandate” (really a “woman date” because the largest segment of the working poor is single mothers who by the way are the largest segment of the homeless population, too) but I did not believe him.

You know there is a really good study in Massachusetts — (http://masscare.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/masshealthreforminpracticefinal.pdf) it talks about how the similar “Romneycare” has closed charity hospitals, meaning that, sure, you might get a “free” checkup but you will have no place to go for follow-up care.

But mostly I (with a take-home pay of about $1,300 a month), and probably the rest of the 1 percent this new tax is aimed at — the 1 percent who are supposedly the problem/saviors of health-insurance costs — do not have 2 to 3 percent for a fine or 8.5 percent for insurance. And insurance is what we all would like, especially for some of those expensive tests and procedures that are really driving up costs.

Beth Jacobs

Niskayuna

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comments

July 8, 2012
10:01 p.m.
Newsworthy says...

KC, it's not relevant to interject the slavery issue into the current immigration fiasco. Slavery was accepted in many cultures over the centuries; that doesn't make it palatable now, but hindsight is 20/20, isn't it?

As for all Mexicans having equal rights at the time Texas was becoming a state, I think you may have been reading the history of an alternate universe. There has always been inequality in Mexico since the Spanish took over.

Legal immigrants have always been an important part of our heritage. How can you support people who claim they want to come here foe a better life, yet their very first action is to knowingly break our laws? That disrespect does not deserve any breaks - send 'em back and shut the door!

July 8, 2012
11:01 p.m.
smith says...

J. W. God Particle: Here's a good example why one shouldn't drink before/while writing.

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