Problem of bloated government begins at the local level
Regarding George Lyman’s Jan. 30 letter, “Government too big for taxpayers’ good”: I say to Mr. Lyman, and anyone else who complains about big government, you should start in your backyard.
March to your town hall and demand that they dissolve that government, with the other 18 just like it, in Saratoga County, and consolidate into one Saratoga County government. Then march to the six villages in Saratoga County and demand that they each dissolve into the county. Then march to your school district and demand that they merge with the 11 other school districts and consolidate into one Saratoga County school district.
Then march to your local firehouse and demand that they merge with the 23 other fire districts, plus the two city fire departments in the county, and consolidate into one county fire department. Then march to your water authority and demand that they dissolve along with the other 103 in Saratoga County and let the county provide and deliver all water. So far that’s 166 government entities in little, rural Saratoga County.
Then go to your sewer district and do the same thing, plus all the other taxing districts that are so numerous. Then march to Albany and demand that the state force each government entity in each county do the same thing that you demand of Saratoga County.
When you’re done speaking to deaf ears, you can complain all you want about the federal government, because they are amateurs compared to New York.
‘Factory’ far better than restaurant review stated
I found Mindy Young’s Jan. 27 restaurant review of The Factory in Ballston Spa quite disappointing. My experiences, after many visits to The Factory, would have given your readers a much more positive reason to drive to Ballston Spa for dinner.
First, The Factory has so much history, [something that] was never even mentioned. Second, it has a beautiful banquet facility upstairs that is classy, reasonable, can be formal or informal, and this was never mentioned. Third, The Factory has a diverse menu for all ages, likes and tastes — also never mentioned!
Mindy’s mistake was going for the trivia and pub food (as she called it), when she could have enjoyed a deliciously prepared meal in front of the fire and relaxed while reading the history of The Factory, flipping through the albums available for all to peruse.
As for the food: The meals we have had in the dining room, the pub and the wedding reception we attended, were all delicious, warm, well-prepared and too big to finish, so we had a “doggie bag” to take home.
The wait staff at The Factory has always been excellent, in our opinion. Just making eye contact with any staff member, they came to help. Teamwork seems to be their motto; we never heard, “I’ll send her right over,” or “this isn’t my table.”
Choosing to sit in the pub area, with the high-back booths, was her choice. Next time try the dining room.
Critic of letter writer stacked deck unfairly
Re Marc Smalkin’s Jan. 29 letter [criticizing] the Jan. 26 letter from Don Steiner: Mr. Smalkin said Mr. Steiner’s “attempt to compare the Obama administration’s cover-up in the Benghazi attack to George Bush and the Iraq war ... is a typical liberal obfuscation attempting to change the issue.”
Aside from failing to explain what the supposed “cover-up” was covering up, Mr. Smalkin missed the point. Mr. Steiner never said, as Mr. Smalkin claims, that “Republicans have no right to question this [Benghazi] because there were no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq.” Mr. Steiner said that “any shortcomings regarding the Obama administration’s handling of the Benghazi attack pale in comparison with the shortcomings regarding the Bush administration’s justification for invading Iraq.”
Noting that Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have been attacking the administration over Benghazi (where four Americans died), Mr. Steiner simply asked: “Where were Sens. Graham and McCain when it became clear that Iraq [where over 4,000 Americans died] had no WMD?”
Mr. Smalkin says the difference is that “the Iraq war was approved overwhelmingly ... by most members of Congress,” including Democrats. What Mr. Smalkin omits is that the congressional vote was taken on the basis of evidence provided entirely by the Bush administration. It thus seems fair to ask why Sens. Graham and McCain never questioned how the Bush administration came to the conclusion that there were WMD in Iraq, justifying an American invasion, when they now raise questions about Benghazi.
Mr. Smalkin goes on to reproach Secretary of State Clinton for saying, “What difference does it make...?” calling this a statement “beyond reprehensible.” Secretary Clinton was talking about the motivation of the killers of the four Americans at Benghazi. Mr. Smalkin obviously thinks it very important to determine what motivated the murderers. I don’t care what their motivation was.
What is more important is that they be brought to justice. Based on President Obama’s track record, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Contradictory credit card laws bad for consumers
A new federal banking law affects all credit card transactions. It transfers credit card transaction costs from issuers to users.
The legislation is confusing in that it conflicts with existing state law. The end result will be unintended consequences: Individuals who pay in cash will get hit with a 4 percent surcharge, along with the credit card users targeted by the legislation.
New York law forbids surcharges on credit card transactions. The new federal law requires that any multistate business that applies a surcharge in one state must apply it in all states it does business in. If a company does business in a state forbidding [a] surcharge, it would seem forbidden to apply it elsewhere. Several states have laws forbidding it. Federal and state law seems deadlocked.
In New York, however, have you noticed that several gas stations offer a discount on fuel if you pay in cash? Apparently in New York, there are many scofflaws; or a cash discount is not the same as a credit card surcharge.
That said, I forecast there will be no “visible” surcharge. Businesses will add about 4 percent to their ticket price to maintain profit margins and, therefore, all — including cash purchasers — will unknowingly pay the surcharge.
Once again, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
Wallace J. Hughes
Dollar General should rethink tobacco sale plan
Tobacco use is the No. 1 preventable cause of death in the world. More than 1,200 Americans die every day from a tobacco-related illness. Unfortunately, these facts have not stopped Dollar General from selling tobacco products, like cigarettes, in their stores.
In a [recent] statement, Dollar General said it would start selling tobacco in mid-2013. It mentioned that its core customers are more likely to smoke than the national average, which is less than 20 percent of adult Americans. It failed to mention that its core customers are considered “low- and middle-income.”
Low-income individuals have some of the highest smoking rates in America. According to the state Department of Health, a smoker making under $15,000 a year spends almost 25 percent of his income on cigarettes.
Now that Dollar General has decided to sell cigarettes, more youth will be exposed to tobacco industry advertising and marketing. This can make kids think that smoking is a completely normal thing to do, even though only 18.6 percent of adults in New York are smokers.
We need to protect our kids from ever picking up a cigarette. The best way to do this would be to reduce the amount of tobacco advertising they see around their communities. For more information, visit realitycheckofny.com.
The writer is program coordinator for Reality Check of Hamilton, Fulton, and Montgomery counties.
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