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Reflection on lifestyles is a teachable moment

Thanks to The News for its coverage of our important ministry among the youth of the Lower West Side. Most of the young people we serve are of faiths other than our own or with no formal faith at all. They come from Buffalo, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

The constant presence of Bob Kuebler, featured in the report, has outlasted the input of city, county and even church support. The assistance of the Food Bank of Buffalo has helped us to provide at least a simple evening meal. Our parishioners bring "food offerings" to Sunday Mass for the kids. The ministry costs us many thousands of dollars in insurance payments, utilities and routine maintenance. These enable us to open the doors of our gym, Youth Center and kitchen. We will continue as long as our resources and possibilities endure. The young folks help us by their respect for the property, as evidenced by the lack of vandalism and graffiti that plague so many local businesses and property owners.

In an interesting juxtaposition, the article and video presentation about our ministry accompanied a report on extravagant expenditures for high school graduation festivities in other parts of Western New York. The irony was not lost on those of us who minister among the more than 50 percent of Buffalo high school students who don't graduate, much less celebrate, such an important milestone with thousand-dollar celebrations. A reflection on the contrast is a major teachable moment for us all, not just the graduates. We need to seize this teachable moment for its valuable lessons about the direction of our society.

Rev. Msgr. David M. Gallivan

Pastor, Holy Cross Church

Buffalo

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AARP officials living in make-believe world

The July 14 Another Voice by Bill Armbruster, AARP associate state director for Western New York, is a continuation of the organization's living in a make-believe world. For years it has promoted the fiction that the Social Security Trust Fund held real money. Of course, it only holds IOUs. However, if AARP's beliefs are real, all it needs to do is have President Obama convert those IOUs to cash. At least that problem would be solved.

The fact that our economy relies 70 percent on consumption has appeared in print many times. There is no mention of the other 30 percent, which I can guess must be production. Isn't that backward of what a healthy economy should be? What is the ratio in China, which seems to be doing very well?

Donald G. Hobel

North Tonawanda

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It's poor, not wealthy, who are being punished

Kathleen Parker's July 12 column was an interesting presentation on the debate toward solving the looming debt ceiling "crisis." I think she fairly suggested that Democrats have been moving forward, at least publicly, calling for significant cuts in spending, while the Republicans stubbornly refuse to move on the equally important revenue side.

Parker thought there might be more creative ways for the wheelers and the dealers to bring the sides together in spite of their extreme rhetoric. But as I read on, I nearly choked on my lunch! Compromise was possible, she said, "without necessarily punishing the poor or the wealthy." That phrase killed her promising message. While it may sound like a compromise, the truth is that only the poor will be "punished" by spending cuts to so-called entitlements and other programs that provide benefits and services. While the wealthy may be inconvenienced by some menial tax increases, they can never be "punished." It is precisely because the poor give, or give up from their need, there will never be a fair compromise with the wealthy.

It is undisputed that more people in America live in poverty, more children go to bed hungry, more elderly have to choose between food and medicine to survive and there are more chronically unemployed since the Bush tax cuts were enacted. On the opposite side, there is a greater concentration of wealth among the top 2 percent of the population. It is worse than disingenuous for anyone to suggest that simply restoring tiny tax increases on the wealthy will do any harm.

It's time to speak truth to power. It's time for the wealthy to pay their fair share to keep the system afloat that has already been more than generous to them.

Paul L. Demler

Jamestown

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Police cars need to use their sirens

Twice in the past month, I have been in a dangerous situation with a police vehicle. I almost had a collision because the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed with only lights flashing and no siren for warning. One near-collision was at an intersection where I had the green light and I narrowly missed hitting the car because it was going so fast. Why don't police vehicles use their sirens? This is happening more often. Please don't put other citizens in jeopardy when it could easily be avoided with a siren.

Carol Johnston

Buffalo

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Gay marriage hurts population growth

The News recently reported that the percentage of children in the United States, which in 1990 stood at 26 percent, is now at a record low, constituting only 24 percent of the population. The article makes it clear that this is part of a trend that will see the percentage of children drop to 20 percent by 2050.

Forget the grandiloquent arguments in favor of gay marriage. This new legal institution has glorified a relationship that is biologically sterile and will do nothing to increase the number of children in this nation. The future growth of our country is being further weakened, to the advantage of less "progressive" emerging nations.

Lucian C. Parlato

Amherst

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End of shuttle program is a devastating blow

One of my grandson's favorite DVDs features a song sung by a dad explaining the golden age of railroads -- how they built our country, expanded West and helped us win two world wars. Now that the space shuttle program has shut down, will I have to explain to my grandson what a spaceship is?

We led the way in space travel. The pride of America, which gave us hope during the darkest moments of the Vietnam War and the Cold War, fostered high-paying jobs, promoted tourism and gave a dream to school children to be astronauts, is now depending on the Russians to get our astronauts into space. Costs shut the program down. Just what is the cost of pride in our country? The irony in all this is that Lancaster has two rail lines running right through town. I fear that my grandson will see a lot more trains before he sees a spaceship launching from the United States.

Maxine Anstett

Lancaster