A college education costs far too much

The Aug. 28 Viewpoints opinion piece by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney (College: Expensive, but a smart choice) on the long-term value of an expensive college education was not convincing. My primary objection is that the authors compared the earnings capabilities of college graduates with general high-school graduates. Probably the vast majority of the latter high-school graduates were not qualified to do college work.

The earnings comparison should have been between college graduates and those high-school graduates who were qualified to go to college but chose to work instead. The failure of Greenstone and Looney to make this comparison indicates that data for this comparison were not readily available or that the authors were perfectly happy with their unconvincing comparison because it made their case to the uninformed.

Also, the $102,000 cost of a four-year college education is far too low and probably should have been closer to $200,000, or more if five years were required to graduate. Over the last few decades, the cost of higher education has been increasing at a rate that more than doubled the rate of inflation. Perhaps Greenstone and Looney could tell us at what point in the future that the investment in a college education turns negative. It already is negative for many recent college graduates who carry huge student loans. The current cost of a college education is much too high and no one seems to be doing anything about it.

Jose Sanchez



Obama's performance has been disappointing

The millions of people who voted for President Obama must be highly disappointed so far. Their favorite statement is that he inherited George W. Bush's problems. I thought they voted for Obama to fix those problems. We are still in two wars, the debt is astronomical and unemployment is higher than ever.

So the next time we vote for a new president, we apparently have to cross our fingers and hope we are right. Will he be a savior or a do-nothing figurehead? I guess we have the latter. I remember someone saying, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the middle class pays all the bills.

Kenneth Brennan



We need to overturn Citizens United ruling

The majority of problems with our political system can be traced back to the influence of money on our elections. One of the most disastrous decisions made by the Supreme Court is the ruling that corporations are people and they may spend unlimited amounts of money, called free speech, telling the people who to vote for.

Most Americans want jobs, clean air and water, and a better future for their children. However, corporations are not motivated like humans are, with altruistic collective goals that benefit society. Their goal is to make as much money as possible, even if it means decimating the air, water, economy, etc. Corporations spent more than $300 million in 2010 on elections, and each day we hear how our social programs that have worked for us for years are about to be destroyed.

We hear the corporate agenda in the speeches of people running for office; terms like "unbridled capitalism," "shrink government" and "deregulation." Politicians who do not agree with the corporate agenda, and who have already been elected, will soon be out of office because these corporations will spend unlimited funds to get them out and find someone who will do their bidding.

We the people can still do something. We have a grass-roots movement to overturn the Citizens United decision. We need to get the power back into the hands of the people. We want to amend the Constitution. In the past, Americans have made a difference in areas such as civil rights. Please sign our online petition at and join our Buffalo group. It's not too late. Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Diana Butsch

West Falls


Will residents receive refund from Amherst?

Amherst residents are surely gratified to learn that the town engineered a new garbage, recycling and refuse collection contract that saves it $2 million. The jury is probably still out on incorporating another 65-gallon tote into the residential mix, this one for recycling. But it's also worth praising town leaders for arranging to recycle previously off-limits items like pizza boxes and hard plastic. My only question is, when can residents expect tax rebate checks from the town from the savings? Roughly 50,000 households and businesses and the $2 million saved should provide each with $40.

Stephen W. Bell



Seneca officials' opinion omitted some key facts

The "quit-picking-on-us" piece by Robert Odawi Porter and Karen Karsten (Sept. 1 Another Voice) leaves the impression that the Seneca Nation single-handedly created its billion-dollar casino empire.

Actually, this gambling enterprise emanated from the people of New York, who in 2002 bestowed upon the Seneca Nation the right to open three casinos. While the Senecas are to be commended for their commercial success, the truth is that if the state had instead granted this exclusive, no-bid franchise to the Town of Niagara Lions Club, arguably it would now be contributing $1 billion and 5,000 jobs to Western New York's economy.

Porter and Karsten neglected to mention that the Seneca Nation is currently refusing to fulfill its contractual obligation to pay the state 25 percent of net slot-machine revenue. By withholding these payments for the past year, the nation has deprived local communities of millions of dollars intended to offset their costs of hosting the Seneca casinos. Forcing them to raise taxes by holding such funds hostage can hardly be portrayed as beneficial to the regional economy.

Jim Calvin

President, New York Association of Convenience Stores


Healthy food offered at Erie County Fair

I am writing in response to an Aug. 27 letter about the lack of healthy food at the fair. The 4-H Cafe located at the end of the avenue of flags by Gate 2 has a food stand inside the air-conditioned building. We have tables and chairs for our customers.

Our menu this year offered fresh homemade muffins each day along with bagels, a fresh fruit cup, and a fresh garden salad with dressing and homemade croutons. Also new this year was a veggie wrap with fresh vegetables. Coffee, tea, milk, water and orange juice are available all day, just to name a few of the beverages. So come visit us next year and bring your friends. We are open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jean Kron

East Aurora