Locals got spoiled with low pension costs during boom
Your Jan. 24 editorial states that pension costs for New York state’s local governments and school districts are “high relative to historic levels for two reasons: more-generous benefits and a decade of mixed stock market returns.”
You neglected the most important reason, in my judgment: the state comptrollers of the time sharply cut pension costs for state and local entities during the 1990s’ stock market boom.
Instead of maintaining modest contributions by government, state and local politicians tried imprudently to ride the tax-cut bandwagon. Hence the need for significant catch up in contributions, particularly in a climate of lower investment returns.
The problem isn’t the state’s pension system, the problem is pusillanimous politicians who abandon longer-term reason for shortsighted cheers from the crowd espousing tax cuts at all costs (the same crowd which demonizes public-sector workers).
Karl R. Horstmann
Feds’ lunch rules giving schools gastric distress
Re Jan. 24 article, “Students ‘trash’ fed rules on school lunches”: Congratulations to the Niskayuna schools for using common sense and rejecting the mandated national school lunch standards. The benefit of Niskayuna dropping out of the feds’ rules is more nutritious and less costly lunches for our kids.
Imagine a federal bureaucrat in Washington thinking he knows more than local schools and parents as to how to feed our kids. This was the ultimate in the federal government trying to take over our lives.
Niskayuna’s experience with the feds’ lunch requirements are that more vegetables and fruit get tossed in the garbage and kids are hungry in the afternoon. The allowed portions of grain in the federal dictates are insufficient for one sandwich. In addition, the number of children buying the school lunch declined from about 45 percent last year to about 25 percent this year so the program lost money.
Where in the Constitution does it say Congress shall determine what school lunches should contain?
Time for our leaders to start acting the part
Now that the presidential election is over, the inauguration behind us, the parties and dancing in the streets are memories, it is time for this country to start climbing out of the doldrums and start acting like a world power instead of a doormat.
By now, [House Speaker] John Boehner has gone through several boxes of Kleenex, wiping away tears resulting from the loss and embarrassment his party has suffered.
[Former Secretary of State] Colin Powell recently stated that, given the system of checks and balances inherent to our government, there is little the president can do without the approval of Congress. That speaks of a responsible Congress; a rational Congress (not the lunatic fringe group trying to sell our country down the river), and a Congress that has the guts to stand up for the people.
These lawmakers pound their fists and loudly refer to the Constitution, yet seem to forget that it begins with “We the People...” That’s us, yet lobbyists have more influence (and money) on their decisions than “we the people.”
Perhaps we all (Democrats, Republicans and independents — and yes, even the lunatic fringe) should take a few minutes to contact our senators and representatives and let them know we are watching them and how they carry out the country’s business on our behalf.
Illegal immigrants don’t deserve free education
I have heard enough over the past two months to ask myself, am I really free?
My parents were the son and daughter of legal immigrants. My grandparents made sure my father learned English (first-generation Italian); my mother was born in Montreal (first-generation Scottish); she spoke both English and French and was able to read and write in both languages.
There were no handouts in the world they were born into. They lived through the Depression and worked hard all their lives. They taught my sisters and me that nothing in life was free and that the American Dream was available to those who worked for it.
Today those dreams are being afforded to people who haven’t earned that right. Some are second- and third-generation welfare recipients, and have no intentions of ever being contributors to society. Now we want to give the illegal immigrants in this state the ability to get a free college education, when there are families out there who gave up their retirements so their children could have one! This is just wrong.
I am not a greedy person. I have earned everything I have. I thank God every day for everything he has given me. I am a middle-class American who was able to succeed through hard work and determination.
I have been retired for five years and am standing by, watching my politicians give my entitlements (their word, not mine) away to people who have never worked and never intend to work and have entered this country not as my grandparents did, but by the same way they lead their lives: illegally.
Robert V. Pandori
Gun law foes should visit shooting scenes
I suggest those New York legislator from our area, including [Assemblymen] Tony Jordan, Dan Stec, Jim Tedisco, [Sens.] Hugh Farley and Kathy Marchione, and all others who voted against the new gun control law (thereby substituting their own opinion for the majority of New Yorkers’), assume a new duty befitting their view.
Since they do not understand the difference between assault weapons and hunting arms, how about forming a squad of three to four rotating members from the above group, plus one from the National Rifle Association hierarchy, who will then visit any site of gun violence in New York state?
They can then explain to the victims (if still alive), next of kin, relatives and neighbors why it is more important to protect their “constitutional” right to own assault weapons than to consider their own lives and welfare.
The squad can start immediately in Webster.
George W. Putman
Supreme Court sees 2nd Amendment differently
Re Jan. 24 letter, “Four linked clauses reveal 2nd Amendment meaning”: David Lucier’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is apparently in conflict with our Supreme Court’s interpretation. Fortunately for our country, the court’s interpretation stands.
The Supreme Court has held that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that weapon for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Moreover, this right applies not just to the federal government, but to states and municipalities as well.
Look it up: http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment2/amendment.html.
Furthermore, I could agree, to a point, with Mr. Lucier if he holds that current and former members of the military (militia) keep their arms.
I further would refer readers to look up the “Battle of Athens, Tenn., 1946” to see why the Framers thought we, as a nation, needed to keep and bear arms.
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