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Explore a different strategy to reduce the national debt

Our debt is of great concern, nationally and internationally. Let's look back at some policies of the past 35 years.

When Ronald Reagan took office, our national debt was almost gone. But he pushed lower taxes and deregulation rather than pay down our debt. So, with insufficient revenue, our debt kept rising. America went into a severe recession and the groundwork was set for the collapse of the savings banks. Lower taxes: good or bad?

In the recent past, we elected another tax-cutting president. When taking office, he was given a budget surplus. Instead of paying down the debt, he decided on a tax cut. We became committed to two wars and new, underfunded programs. The nation's debt continued upward. We then got the most severe recession since the Depression, along with the crash of Wall Street and the banking industry. Lower taxes: good or bad?

Now when you look at very high incomes, the money has to come from somewhere. Their good fortune isn't something they did all by themselves. Their salaries come from the spending by middle- and low-income workers who also work hard for their money. Consequently, the wealthy have a responsibility to give back to communities. Paying more income tax is a consistent, fair and meaningful way to do this. After all, if the federal government doesn't generate enough income the states get less aid, the localities get less and we have to pay more in local taxes or fees.

There's no need to conserve money for those who don't need it. Use money wisely for public transportation, sewers, levees, waste treatment, etc. It creates jobs, most of them good permanent jobs.

Let's try this for 35 years.

Paul J. Wasielewski

Tonawanda

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Personal responsibility has been tossed aside

It is great we now have huge fines for texting while driving and cell phone use while driving. Maybe with the large amount in possible revenues from all those fines New York State can repair our crumbling roads and bridges. Or just hire, let's say, a million more policemen to issue the countless number of tickets which could be written every day.

Where are all the trial lawyers on this issue? Surely they could figure some way to sue the cell phone companies for liability. They have to be culpable, after all. Maybe a class action suit against cell phones companies could provide money to be used to teach personal responsibility to the nation. It seems nowadays everybody else is responsible for our own personal stupidity.

Harvey Schwartzmeyer

N. Collins

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Tipping servers is not an arbitrary exercise

I am a restaurant server and have been for many years. I have worked in many different types of restaurants over the years, including fast food to fine dining. I have come to the conclusion either in talking to friends, friends of friends, colleagues and family members or by overhearing people talking that many people do not realize the rate of pay per hour for restaurant servers. The state you live in will determine what the exact rate of pay will be. It can typically range from $2.13 to $5 and higher per hour. If we work 30 hours per week, our paychecks are usually less than $80. Most servers work for tips; this is how we earn our living. This brings me to my next point.

There is something we in the industry call "tipping out." This is when we have to give a percentage of our "sales," not our "tips," to others. Generally we "tip out" our bartender and host or hostess. This is usually around 3 percent of our sales. So let's say your bill is $100. I have to give $1.50 to my bartender and $1.50 to my host or hostess. If you don't leave me a tip, for whatever reason, that money comes out of my pocket. What really gets me is when someone says "what great service" and "the change is for you honey" when their bill is $68.02 and they leave me $70.

As servers, we do a lot more than just take your order and deliver your food. The silverware that you eat with is usually rolled in a napkin when you reach your table. That is because we roll every piece of it. We transport dishes to the cooks when they are needed and glassware to the bartenders when they run out. We also clean up after you and your children when you leave the restaurant.

I hope that the next time you go out to dinner, at any type of restaurant, you will think about the issues I have mentioned, and tip your server accordingly. Thank you.

Scott E. Fisher

Town of Tonawanda

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Gov. Brown has infringed on rights of individuals

It is one thing that the gay marriage bill was passed and legalized in New York. Gov. Jerry Brown of California pushed the bar too far when he signed a bill in California. The first state to require public schools to have gay and lesbian courses as part of their curriculum. Now he has opened a new can of worms that crosses the line on the students and parents and infringes on their rights and free speech by forcing them to take an agenda they don't want to take.

John Jendrusek

Orchard Park

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Amherst Parks officials show no understanding

For the last four years, I have called the Amherst Parks Department multiple times. Why?

In 2007, I argued with the Parks Department against taking out an island tree which was only slightly damaged in the 2006 storm. To no avail! The parks authorities were in control and the tree was removed.

In 2009, after repeated calls to replace the removed tree, we, at Harwood Court, could finally gaze again at a little tree on our little island. But alas! The tree planted was soon, after a week, declared dead by the Harwood Court neighbors. The dead tree stood rather sadly on our island until May 2011 when after repeated calls to the parks people it was finally removed. Again, it took a number of calls, but low and behold a new tree was planted in June 2011. My neighbors all laughed at me when I faithfully watered our island tree with a long hose from my house. Why?

The parks department had inserted a water retention bag that was full of holes around the tree. Why are my neighbors laughing again? This tree is dead as well. Yet, I am still watering it with my long hose just like the parks department supervisor recommended. I told him over the telephone that the recently planted tree had gone to tree heaven also. He said, "keep on watering!"

Moral of this story? There is none except that I never give up, but I would like to know who works for the Amherst Parks Deparment, and where they buy the town's trees. Actually, another neighbor will have to play the fool and water a dead tree. I recently sold my house and I am moving to the city. I will not miss my tree but I will miss my neighbors.

Joyce H. Bol

Amherst