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Letters to the Editor for March 19

Letters to the Editor for March 19

  • Suicide has become byproduct of anti-authoritarian society
  • Let taxpayers file via Internet
  • Suicide has become byproduct of anti-authoritarian society

    Re: March 8 letter, “Strong community response needed to fight student suicide”: Taken at face value, what Dr. Karpowicz has written certainly makes sense to address the problem of teenage suicide.

    What is not being taken into account in mobilizing community resources to help children and adolescents in their struggles to develop into independent and responsible adults, and to avoid the heartbreak of suicide, is that the fabric of our society has largely been unraveling since the second part of the 20th century.

    While we have made huge advances in the quantity of life, i.e. more cars, more and bigger houses, more income, more gadgets, more medical technology, more powerful antibiotics, etc., we have suffered a dramatic decline in the quality of life.

    One of the reasons for much of the antisocial, psychopathic, violent and destructive behavior (March 8 article, “11-year-old facing murder charge is an avid hunter”) is the anti-authoritarian society we now live in.

    Today’s youth are electronically wired, and many are addicted to their cellphones and computers. They care not for what their parents, teachers, doctors, clergymen or law enforcement have to say to them. While teenage suicide impacts all of us, so does teenage violence (March 7 article, “Teen gets 15 to life in girl’s killing”). While some children may be sad and depressed, there are many others who are angry, rebellious and use drugs to self-medicate.

    Mobilizing community resources is not enough to turn the tide in an anti-authoritarian society where permissiveness has resulted in many children growing up with a lack of contact with themselves and with their caretakers. As William Bennett points out, “The nation we live in today is more violent and vulgar, coarse and cynical, rude and remorseless, deviant and depressed than the one we once inhabited. A popular culture that is often brutal, gruesome and enamored with death robs many children of their innocence. People kill each other and themselves more easily. Men and women abandon each other and their children more readily. Marriage and the American family are weaker, more unstable and less normative.”

    Guiding children out of the darkness first requires that we adults see the light ourselves. Yet too many parents are too permissive, too busy, too guilty over their own past transgressions to take charge of their own family matters. Too many teachers are hampered by politically correct rules and policies to impose the discipline and order needed to effectively run their classrooms. Too many doctors and mental health workers are too busy trying to see enough patients to pay their overhead or simply too overwhelmed by the depth and magnitude of the problems to do more than offer medications to treat symptoms.

    The generation gap has far outpaced whatever programs we have in place to address the social crisis facing our young people. We are paying the price for a critical biological miscalculation that has resulted in equating mechanistic material comforts with quality of life. However, what we need to find satisfaction in life and what we need to be able to raise our children to be independent and responsible member of society has, for the most part, eluded too many of us.

    George B. Hughes


    The writer is a family doctor in private practice in Schenectady.

    Let taxpayers file via Internet without charge

    The March 8 article [“Fee to file tax forms on its way”] concerning the $10 fee proposed by Gov. Paterson for filing a paper state income tax return discussed only one of the two problems with such a fee.

    The fee will unduly burden those people who do not have access to high-speed Internet or who do not want to pay for someone else to prepare their tax returns. However, your reporter overlooked a different issue.

    Both the federal government and New York state prefer that taxpayers file returns electronically (e-file), rather than by paper. However, neither allows taxpayers to file their returns directly with the respective government agencies. Both require that taxpayers pay a third-party, non-governmental organization for that privilege.

    Free e-filing is available to lower-income taxpayers; commercial tax preparation computer programs typically include one federal e-file but charge to e-file the state return. While neither the proposed $10 fee for a paper return nor the fee charged by third parties for e-filing are a significant burden on those who make too much money to qualify for free e-file, I am opposed to the concept of any citizen having to pay a non-governmental organization in order to file a document that is required by government.

    Victor Roberts

    Burnt Hills

    Editor’s Note: A bill currently before the New York Legislature would prohibit the charges referenced above for state e-filers.

    Region needs stimulus, so vote Scott Murphy

    As details of the economic stimulus plan become known, your March 1 editorial, “Tedisco: Yea or nay on stimulus?” raises the important question over whether Jim Tedisco is a leader or a follower. Will he vote with the right-wing leadership of the Republicans in Congress, or will he represent the interests of his constituents?

    Take energy, for example. The stimulus program is going to provide large municipalities in New York state, including Saratoga County, with block grants totaling almost $2 billion that can be used for energy audits on government buildings, energy-efficiency retrofits, renewable energy for government buildings and transportation energy-efficiency programs, among others. These investments will pay dividends for a generation or more, by reducing energy usage and taxpayer costs for the long term, not to mention shrinking our collective carbon footprint.

    President Obama and the Democrats passed this program without a single Republican vote in the House. Jim Tedisco [would] tag along with the naysayers [rather than] stand up for his constituents.

    Scott Murphy, the Democratic and Independence parties’ candidate, has said he supports the stimulus. That makes sense to me.

    Heather Felder


    No quick, easy fix for economic mess we’re in

    Charles Krauthammer’s March 7 column, “Obama’s trying to pull a fast one,” was one of the best I have read. He states: “At the very center of our economic near-depression is a credit bubble, a housing collapse and a systemic failure of the entire banking system.” He then goes on to elaborate on the effect of government-pushed loose credit on both lenders and borrowers, leading to our present troubles.

    Contrary to what a lot of people are telling us, this is not a problem brought about by the Bush administration. This has been building for many years, beginning with the Carter administration. Of course, this loose credit environment has also extended to the irresponsible use of credit cards. Suddenly everyone has become scared, and our savings rate has dramatically increased, which worsens the problem.

    The bottom line is that this loose credit environment has caused society to become sick over the last couple of decades. As with any sickness, you generally need to take medicine to cure it. At the present time we seem to just be trying to treat the symptoms with the so-called “stimulus package,” but I am afraid that we will eventually have to take our medicine. This will cause a lot of pain, but we eventually will come out of it a better society, realizing that we have to live within our means — both individually and as a country.

    Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later.

    Sidney J. Woodcock


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