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Service jobs don't create new wealth

It's a well-known saying that hindsight is 2 0/2 0. Rep. Louise Slaughter joined the anti-greed protest, saying, "For 30 years, America's middle class has watched its living standards erode."

Others have picked up on that 30-year benchmark, too. I warned my congressman 30 years ago that if my information was correct, the United States would be in for difficult economic times in the future. Agricultural commodity prices had dropped, just as they had 60 years before, resulting in the Great Depression. At that time, I asked my congressman to have economists prove that service jobs create new wealth. Today, I can state unequivocally that they don't, or the country would be raking in new wealth from our expensive sickness care system.

The U.S. Constitution was written for a country that was 90 percent rural and agricultural. The exceptionalism we brag about today was due to abundant resources and fertile land. Steve Jobs was a brilliant man and the "toys" he dreamed up were revolutionary, but they did not feed one person; nor did the credit default swaps of the wealthy Wall Street wizards. The Arabs were poor desert nomads until we traded our wealth for their oil. For too many years, decisions have been made by and for the wealthy, and the results are obvious.

Marlene Schotz

Wilson

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Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan would be disastrous

Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain has surged ahead of Mitt Romney in recent GOP presidential primary polls, but he won't stay there long.

Although much attention has been given to his 9-9-9 economic plan, one of the nines represents a sales tax on goods. This 9 percent tax is in addition to state and local sales taxes. In New York State, this means that buyers would now pay about an 18 percent sales tax to buy a car or any other product sold in the state. Does any New Yorker think this is a good idea? In addition, any sales tax increase reduces the sale of products, and this would have a drastic negative effect on our nation's economy as a whole.

If you think businesses are going broke now because of the recession, an additional 9 percent national sales tax on top of existing state and local sales taxes would kick the American economy into a full-blown depression. Nice try, Mr. Cain, but no thanks.

Gary H. Bauer

Wheatfield

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Statistics on college mislead young people

That college grads earn more over a lifetime than non-grads is very misleading and, I suspect, is tweaked and touted by university interests to bolster their enrollments.

Want to make some money? Start your own viable business, and you'll never have to submit a resume that shows you didn't even finish high school.

The statistics lie. Not only do they lie, but they mislead young people into thinking that law, dentistry, medicine, engineering and architecture pay well. Have I got some news for those kids. Let us count the equipment investment costs, the "base" hourly wages and the layoffs during downturns. What a waste. No wonder many default on student loans, or take up to 30 years to pay off their debts.

The most outrageous factor here is the high interest rates young people pay for the investments in their futures. There is no good reason why interest on students loans should exceed 1.5 percent. The 6 percent to 12 percent rates are condemning college grads to a lifetime of loan payments, and the actual cost of the education triples over time. A sad commentary on the greed of lenders and the value of the university degree.

Want an education with real value? Cosmetology, carpentry, welding, dental hygiene, optometry, plumbing, house wiring, roofing, painting, heavy equipment operator and accounting. These earn considerably more than novice architects, attorneys and teachers. And some of the occupations are learned through paid apprenticeships -- no student loans!

Lydia Bezou-Hojnacki

Buffalo

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Where are GPS units West Seneca sought?

I'm concerned that the West Seneca Town Board has let an approved $50,000 grant for radio and GPS units for the Highway Department languish. The vehicle equipment upgrades were requested by the highway superintendent and approved by the Town Board in 2008, granted by the State Senate in July 2009 and never used.

What has changed since June 2008 when the Town Board and the highway superintendent believed that these upgrades were needed to significantly improve Highway Department operations? It was thought that the new equipment would increase accountability, reduce fuel and maintenance costs, enable the town to track personnel and assets, allow for increased flexibility in delivery of services (perhaps alleviating snowplow delays) and save tax dollars.

The grant application, written under the guidance of Councilwoman Sheila Meegan with the unanimous approval of the Town Board, spells out many ways the GPS units would enhance productivity. The units would lead to "green" operations through the use of technology, saving on fuel through increased efficiency, providing data for analysis, accountability and budget needs, providing increased safety and security to personnel and helping to locate lost or stolen town property.

With all of these reasons for and none against GPS units, why are they not yet installed in town service vehicles? I can think of only one answer.

Paula Minklei

West Seneca

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Teachers have a duty to address bullying

Instead of encouraging students to speak out against bullying, the phrase "it gets better" advises them to do exactly the opposite, which is to sit and wait until the storms blow over, leaving victims of bullying to their own devices. It justifies inaction from both the victims and the witnesses of bullying, and, one might even say, makes it conveniently OK for teachers to remain in the dark. All adults in the school should try to pick up on what is going on in the halls and at the lunch tables by monitoring students' behavior much more closely. This should be enforced by the administration relentlessly.

We should ourselves model novel and courageous behavior by not shirking to engage those students whom we would prefer not to have to engage in the first place, the bullies themselves.

As a former teacher, I know all too well how put off we all are by the outrageously disrespectful teenagers we are surrounded by all day, every day. I also know that all education starts at home. But as educators, we owe it to the victims of bullying to try to do our part, which is not only to identify and punish the bullies, but also to call those to task who spend the biggest part of their lives with them -- their parents.

Monika Dipert

East Amherst