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Congress taking too much of our money

Congress taking too much of our money

*Congress taking too much of our money *Minimum wage hike will raise costs to all *Bail system needs

Congress taking too much of our money

At a time when many Americans are struggling with things like buying food and heath care, our members of Congress are doing just fine. In 2015 the House Speaker’s salary is $223,500 and the House Majority and Minority leaders receive $193,400. Those who are only plain congressmen and women receive only $174,000 for their hard work making things worse for the average American.

These salaries are topped off with huge expense accounts and benefits taxpayers can only dream about. While those on Social Security will receive no increase in 2016, our Congress may get a $3,000 cost of living adjustment if the coming budget is approved. There are even those in Congress who want to increase their base salaries because they say expenses have increased.

According in published reports, “the median net worth for a member of Congress in 2013 was over $1 million, and a majority of members are millionaires.”

Many entered Congress having salaries of under $50,000 a year and by their second terms, they were millionaires. Am I the only American who feels something is amiss? Many have spent their careers over the past several years doing nothing but voting against health care and trying to shut down our government, costing us taxpayers billions. Now they want to take away our Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as they squander our tax dollars.

Several of those running for president in 2016 have made this part of their “Dream for America,” and like pied pipers, they have a following. One has to wonder if these followers need hearing aids.

Gary Philip Guido

Rotterdam

Minimum wage hike will raise costs to all

A $15 minimum wage in New York is bad for agriculture, our food supply and our pocket books.

An economic analysis found that a wage increase from the current $8.75 per hour to $15 would increase farm costs by nearly $500 million in New York and eat away at roughly 25 percent of farm net income. That is significantly less money that farmers will have to reinvest into their farms or spend at the local feed and tractor supply stores.

These same stores will also be forced to pay higher wages, too. Where do you think that money will come from? All of us will be paying higher prices at any store we walk into to make up for increased labor costs. The ripple effect will be felt throughout our rural communities.

But it’s not just how much we spend, but also what we can buy that will be impacted. It will be tougher for New York farms to compete with those in other states, or countries for that matter, that have cheaper labor costs and can offer their goods at lower prices. Supermarkets will often choose that cheaper option. That means the food in our supermarkets would increasingly not be grown in New York.

Sens. George Amedore and Hugh Farley, please stand with New York farmers and oppose this legislation. There are better ways to support New Yorkers looking to make a better wage.

Dean Casey

Schaghticoke

The writer is director of the New York Farm Bureau District Eight State.

Bail system needs fundamental change

The Oct. 27 editorial, “Consider violence in bail hearings,” misses the point. Yes, violence needs to be considered when a judge is deciding whether or not the accused should sit in jail while awaiting a trial or hearing. But bail should not have anything to do with that decision. Bail lets the wealthy person go free, even if he’s Jack the Ripper, and makes the poor person sit in jail whether he beat up his wife or was selling loosies to feed his kids. Jack the Ripper and the wife beater should both be in jail, loosie seller, not.

Back in jolly old England, where our modern bail system originated, dangerous people were just killed or mutilated. Bail was held in the non-dangerous cases so that the reparation money was already in hand if the accused didn’t show up for trial. If he wanted his money back and thought he could win the case, he showed up for the trial.

Later, in the Colonies, it was decided that everyone was bailable and the bail bonds industry was born. The risk came to be more about money than dangerous criminality.

In 1966 the Federal Bail Reform Act made risk of flight the sole standard for bail. In 1970, dangerousness was added to the consideration. The system has slowly been reforming since then, but there is still no evidence of a relationship between money and pretrial misconduct. Some places have done away with bail entirely, relying on a signed contract to appear. Who is against this? Surprise — bail bondsmen.

Want to read in depth? Here is my source of info: http://www.pretrial.org/download/pji-reports/PJI-History%20of%20Bail%20Revised.pdf.

Robin Schnell

Scotia

Reject protests of Muslim services

With deep and warm care do we offer our support and solidarity with brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith who live exemplary lives of embracing love among us. With deep anguish do we decry recent fear-filled calls for negative demonstrations in the presence of Islamic places of worship.

At its heart, the Koran offers a loving, caring, accepting, welcoming, generous God. It calls for all adherents to live in peace within self and with others. The greatest jihad is to offer the fear and inner struggles of one’s own being to Allah, the Eternal One, for healing and reconciliation, which can then be offered in turn as blessing to others.

Our interactions and engagements with Muslim brothers and sisters are filled with grace and wholeness. We celebrate one another as God’s precious children. We call the greater public to join us in dismissing these ill-informed, divisive and self-serving demonstrations.

We call the greater public to join us in reaching out in trust to the Islamic communities in the area. It is our experience that our trust in reaching out is met with equal trust on their part, our initiative in creating community is matched by their similar engagement. As we do so, we honor and praise the One God whom we all serve and who calls us all “beloved.”

James Troy

Schenectady

The writer is chair of the Church Council of the First United Methodist Church. The letter was also endorsed by the members of the Church Council.

Withhold Egypt aid over democracy fail

The United States gives $1.5 billion a year in hopes that Egypt remains a stable country. One of the objectives of this “gift” is to “promote democracy.”

Recently, three journalists were put in jail on unspecified charges; two of them are where in detention in a place unknown. Is that democracy? Our country should withhold that money until Egypt starts practicing real democracy.

K.C. Halloran

Melrose

Letters

The Gazette welcomes letters to the editor from readers.

There is no specific word limit, but shorter letters will get preference for publication and timeliness. Letters of about 200-300 words are suggested. Longer letters will be published online only.

Please include your name, community, phone number and an email address for verification. Writers are limited to one letter every 30 days.

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