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What you need to know for 02/20/2017

Government programs that help the poor are not the problem

Government programs that help the poor are not the problem

*Government programs that help the poor are not the problem *Op-ed writer was wrong to rap robotics

Government programs that help the poor are not the problem

In his Dec. 4 letter, Adam Buzanowski attempted to create a causal link between poor parenting, low student test scores and government social programs.

After correctly identifying bad and non-existent parenting — not poor teachers — as the cause of student failure, he then revealed his real agenda, i.e., bashing government social programs.

He states that the “theme” from our recent election is that “. . . monetary success is bad, if you make over $250,000, you’re somehow evil.” Clearly, this is his fantasy — nobody said this, or anything even close.

He goes on to say that government will take care of you, there is “no need to work hard . . . no incentive to become educated.” What a shallow, narrow-minded view of essential government programs for our needy and disabled fellow citizens.

His suggestion that inner-city kids grow up aspiring to emulate their parents’ lifestyles, i.e. struggling on welfare, subsidies and food stamps, is utter nonsense. That is why they turn to drug dealing, addiction and robbery — their desperate attempt to escape from the poverty and hopelessness of the “hood.” His assumption that poor people are just lazy, and want a handout instead of a job, is simply false, as well as totally devoid of compassion or empathy.

Think about what would happen in our society without homeless shelters, food stamps, welfare assistance, and other government programs to help our less fortunate and disabled. Chaos, crime and drug addiction would skyrocket, our cities would become war zones.

Be careful what you wish for — and count your blessings. You may someday become one of “them.”

Vince Dacquisto

Niskayuna

The writer is a retired public school teacher.

Op-ed writer was wrong to rap robotics education

L.D. Davidson’s Dec. 9 Viewpoint [“Letting business shape K-12 curriculum is terrible idea”] says sarcastically: “Likewise, it is wonderful that students in Amsterdam are building ‘robots’ that play basketball. It must be great fun, especially if it substitutes for class time better spent on reading, writing, math and learning to think clearly.”

Having mentored students in the same FIRST Robotics Competition in Amsterdam for nearly a decade now, I invite Mr. Davidson to visit with a FIRST team when the season begins next month — almost all meet outside school hours. I extend this invitation because I believe he is misinformed about the program and what results from a student’s participation in it.

When a student has read the competition manual to avoid creating an overweight, out-of-spec machine, written sponsors from the local hardware store on up to NASA (which sponsors 11 teams in New York this year) to pay for expenses, done the math to ensure the motors will hold the load and won’t blow every breaker on the robot, and learned to think clearly when troubleshooting a custom-built 120-pound machine (and its software) in 10 minutes before the next match, the result is not merely a student with specific vocational training. The result is a student prepared to work through tough problems in any business, including those that don’t exist yet.

This is why colleges and universities offer over $16 million in scholarships to graduates of the program, why names from George H.W. Bush to the founders of Google and YouTube have spoken at our championship event, and why companies as diverse as Xerox, Motorola, Bausch & Lomb, Lockheed Martin, L3 Communications, Con Edison, jcpenney, Time Warner Cable, and even the New York Yankees are supporting FIRST teams in the state of New York this year.

And yes, it is great fun.

William “Billfred” Leverette

Columbia, S.C.

In vintage outfits, they sang carols like angels

The folks in the Niskayuna area on Saturday [Dec. 8] were privileged to see and listen to an amazing group of carolers. We were leaving David’s Hair Salon [on Nott Street] when across the street I noticed a group of about 10 or 12, maybe college age, dressed in vintage clothing.

They were leaving the steps of a residence and looked as though they were walking through the streets of an Old World city in their remarkable clothing. Their endless smiles were wonderful to see.

As they got walking, I called out and said, “I bet you sound as beautiful as you look.” They then proceeded to cross the street and give us a special performance, singing “Joy to the World.” By now, those inside the salon were waving for them to come in — which they did — singing and sharing their beautiful God-given voices and energy. Their voices were amazing: the soprano with her angelic tones, the men with their deep vocals, and all those in between. They were all absolutely incredible. They seemed to enjoy providing the entertainment as much as we all were listening to and watching them.

We see pictures, large pictures, plastered on the cover and inside pages of half-naked people running through the streets of Albany drinking and partying, yet the entertainment provided by this group and others like them, very few are privileged to see.

I don’t know the name of the group —I wish I had asked. We should enjoy them while we can. The way things are going in today’s world, it may soon be against the law for groups like this to be wandering the streets singing of good will, peace to men and joyful Christmas carols.

God bless and Merry Christmas to them all.

Lorene Richardson

Schenectady

Pictures of mangled cars serve a purpose

I could certainly sympathize with Carol Ramundo’s Dec. 7 letter in the Gazette about survivors of car accidents not wanting to see a picture of the mangled cars that took their loved ones.

However, I disagree with her comment that these pictures do not prevent more [of] such accidents from happening. When I was younger, I had to take a driver safety class because I was driving Norfolk, Va., city cars. They showed us a movie with many serious and fatal accidents and it made a lasting impression on me to drive safely.

Pictures are worth a thousand words. How many have not started or given up smoking as a result of pictures of smokers’ lungs, or the lifestyle they could eventually have?

Meanwhile, my praises to the students in the Shenendehowa school system who organized by themselves a service that over 10,000 students attended for the students who recently died.

Geraldine Havasy

Scotia

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