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Letters to the Editor for Saturday, April 6

Letters to the Editor for Saturday, April 6

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Company officials must pay for deaths

Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family have agreed to pay $270 million to the state of Oklahoma because of the over-aggressive marketing of Purdue’s drug, OxyContin.

The settlement supports the idea that the marketing by Purdue contributed to the large number of opioid overdose deaths in Oklahoma. Hundreds of other similar lawsuits are making their way through the courts.

So what are the penalties other than fines for a corporation’s actions causing hundreds of deaths? I contend we can use the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission as guidance for what penalties a corporation should suffer when it contributes harm to people. 

In Citizens United, the court upheld the notion of corporate “personhood.” The court argued that corporations are entitled to constitutional protections such as those provided by the First and Fourteenth amendments. If a corporation is a person, then Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family should suffer the same penalties as any other person. 

Purdue Pharma knowingly put a dangerous product on the market that led to hundreds of overdose deaths. The corporation’s directors and chief officers should go to prison for the same amount of time that a person would go to jail for committing a similar crime.
Larry Lewis
Glenville

 

Special-needs cuts will hurt the children

As the parent of a special needs child, I’m filled with anger and disgust at the cuts being proposed to our educational system and to Secretary Betsy DeVos’ justifications for making such cuts. The proposal is a thin-veiled tax break for the wealthy and will harm special-needs children. 

My son, Nicholas, is a loving 8-year old developmentally-delayed child.

We’re fortunate to live in a blue state that afforded good health insurance and had an amazing pediatrician who got Nicholas into early development programs when he was 2 years of age. 

We’re thankful that Nicholas could attend a school specializing in educating children living with developmental disabilities, and he continues to participate in specialized therapies to help him progress physically and teach him tasks we take for granted, such as tying our shoes or zippering a coat.

Last week Secretary DeVos outlined a plan that would cut $51 million from programs designed to help my child and others like him.

She wants to give $60 million to charter schools, a clear conflict of interest given her family’s investments in charter schools, and she proposes the creation of 100 percent tax credit for contributions so state-sanctioned scholarship donors could get back their entire donation through federal taxes, meaning the taxpayers pay for them.

This proposal will harm millions of American children who have special needs and aren’t fortunate to have the resources they need to lead full and productive lives to the best of their abilities.
Edward Smith
Schenectady

 

When voters speak, officials must listen

The United Kingdom’s 2014 referendum to exit the European Union was a plausible outcome, despite then-Prime Minister David Cameron’s “stronger together” campaign and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s warning of the ensuing economic turmoil. 

Poorly implemented austerity measures in Italy and Greece, the uneven distribution of migrants from a war-torn Middle East and Northern Africa, and subsequent terrorist attacks burdened wealthier European countries. European courts, often espousing socialist ideology and at times Middle Eastern-style authoritarianism, threatened basic freedoms while onerous regulations undermined economic interests. 

Newly appointed Prime Minister Theresa May’s vision for a sovereign U.K. was soon compromised by the allure of socialism pitched by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during her call for snap elections, which toppled the Tories’ governing majority. 

Though able to form a majority governing coalition with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, her leverage in gaining major concessions from the EU had eviscerated as Labour’s strategy was to reject every proposal in an attempt to force a second referendum. Supposedly, voters were uninformed and Parliamentarians unprepared, even though Ms. May’s latest proposal would have avoided a hard border with Ireland and given the U.K. the jurisdiction to leave Europe’s Customs Union. 

Parliament’s refusal to honor Brexit was enabled largely by Millennials’ embrace of socialism and their misunderstanding that governments can’t spend more than their economies produce, as Venezuelans know all too well. It also more broadly depicts Albany politics, where every so often a school or library budget is rejected and Albany residents are expected to vote correctly the second time. 
Stephen Dansereau
Albany

 

Officer served people of Glenville with care

On March 27, the Glenville Police Department said goodbye and happy retirement to one of its own. After 20 years of service, Officer Tracy Nethaway called out of service for the last time.

Officer Nethaway was hired in April 1999 as the town’s first female police officer. She always went above and beyond her normal police duties. She would help residents who were down on their luck, took care of the elderly in the community and was instrumental in educating women and seniors with fraudulent scams and how to defend themselves against predators.

I am proud and honored to have worked with such a caring, compassionate officer for the past 10 years and to call her my friend. 

She will be missed by myself, her co-workers and the residents of the town of Glenville. I wish her all the best in retirement; it is well deserved!
Anne Marie Peltier
Ballston Lake

 

Be careful when gambling on slots

With the end of Problem Gambling Awareness Month, we should recognize that Schenectady has a slots gambling problem. Since Rivers casino’s first anniversary in February 2017, its entire growth in gaming revenue has come from slots play, with table game revenue down.

Experts say slots are the most addictive form of casino gambling, producing addicts in a year, not three years, like other casino games. Because slots players are more likely to be local and members of vulnerable groups (the elderly and poor), our community needs to be especially concerned. 

The consequences of problem gambling reach the entire community, not just gamblers, their families, friends and employers. 

Experience shows we cannot count on the casino or government to focus on prevention education rather than treating problem gambling, given their incentives to maximize casino revenue. Studies say that 40 percent to 60 percent of slots revenue comes from problem gamblers. 

A Canadian study found that casual players comprised 75 percent of players, but contributed only 4 percent of net gambling revenue. Therefore, our private sector — health care providers, civic, social, religious, educational and neighborhood groups — must work to cultivate a healthy attitude toward casino gambling, to place it into the low-risk category of casual entertainment and recreation.  

Happily, an easy-to-find and use treasure trove of materials already exists that encourages safe gambling practices and discourages risky gambling behavior.

At http://tinyurl.com/SlotsProblem, you can find samples, data, links and recommendations. Meanwhile, set a budget and time limit; play for fun, not riches.
David Giacalone
Schenectady

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