Playing video games is no way to honor veterans
On Nov. 11, we honored our veterans who fought and died so that we can live with a sense of freedom. It is a day that has been set aside to remember that we should not take for granted our way of life and to thank those men and women who served. Anyone who has put on a uniform of the U.S. armed services and swore the oath has a right to feel proud of his or her service.
What disturbs me is how many children and young adults spent this past Veterans Day. Not by thanking a veteran or remembering those who are currently fighting overseas, but by playing video games based on the sacrifices made by our vets. These brave men and women did not intend to have their combat experiences played out on large-screen televisions for others' entertainment.
Earlier in the week, the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" came out and recorded sales that were off the charts. In the high school in which I teach, I overheard many students say that is how they spent their day off. Worse yet is that I teach physical education, and mixing the physical inactivity with the lack of respect for veterans is a double whammy.
Parents need to take a better role in what values children practice as they grow up. This game and its popularity amongst children and young adults is a huge slap in the face to veterans and those actively serving in the armed forces. Parents might try introducing their children to something called "fresh air," which is free and right outside their front door. No excuses; we have had plenty of nice fall weather this year.
Collins kept promises and made tough choices
I just finished reading Donn Esmonde's column, "Collins falls victim to his own persona." When will we New Yorkers learn that warm and fuzzy doesn't cut it? County Executive Chris Collins did not promise us a rose garden, he promised to hold the line on taxes, to give us a balanced budget, to run the county efficiently. He did just that. He made cuts that were not popular.
We keep asking for lower taxes. Tell me how we get lower taxes if we don't control our spending. Household budgets have to make unpopular or unhappy choices. Why do we think government can lower taxes and still keep spending? At some point, we New Yorkers have to learn that we can't have our cake and eat it, too. Back to warm and fuzzy.
State budget cuts hit seniors, poor hardest
I fail to understand how Gov. Andrew Cuomo and some state legislators can allow the current income tax surcharge on affluent New Yorkers (the millionaires' tax) to expire while they made severe state budget cuts to the state EPIC program, which helps lower-income seniors pay for prescriptions.
As of Jan. 1, 2012, seniors are in for a big shock to their budgets as the EPIC program will no longer help with their regular monthly costs for needed medications. As best I can figure out from the confusing information regarding the changes in EPIC, my own prescription costs will increase by $200 or more a month.
Cuomo vows no tax increases, but what do I call this disproportionately large new monthly expense out of my already limited income? Along with cuts to other programs like HEAP and Meals on Wheels that help the elderly, it sure seems that the governor and state legislators balanced the budget on the backs of those most vulnerable and least able to afford it.
This inequity needs to be added to the list of economic issues that the Occupy Wall Street folks are protesting for us.
Now is the time to tell the governor and legislators that the tax on highest incomes should be extended -- and the revenues used to restore funds to EPIC and other needed programs essential to seniors and the poor. Or, I wonder, do they even care?
It's appalling to see unopposed candidates
The recent election saw candidates run unopposed for State Supreme Court, city council, city comptroller and several county legislator seats. The number of unopposed candidates was alarming. Elections are supposed to be about choice, but we weren't given any. Why is this permitted?
It smells like a smoke-filled back room with a couple of party bigwigs deciding who they want in office and jamming it down the throats of the electorate. Is it really necessary to go through the expense of an election merely to rubber-stamp a politician's job? If an elected office is viewed as so unimportant that two individuals aren't interested in seeking it, then maybe it really is that unimportant.
At the end of an office's term, it should be left vacant until two candidates can be found who are willing to stand up and have their names on the ballot on election day (not primary day). In this tight economy, saving money on elections and politicians' salaries sounds good to me. I personally refused to cast my vote for any unopposed candidate.
We must put an end to child trafficking
We have just completed another round of elections and I would like to bring up an issue that it seems all political parties can agree on, which is the fight against trafficking and slavery. While we believe that these practices are wrong and should be eliminated, our financial support in this fight is not commensurate with its importance. In one month, we spend more as a country in the war against drugs than is spent in 10 years in the battle against these two evils.
This is not a problem only in Third World countries, although it is a very significant problem in many. A large number of missing children in America wind up being trafficked. I am delighted that the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is being co-sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer. This important piece of legislation will make sure that we recognize the seriousness of this problem and allocate resources appropriately.
The House version of this bill (H.R. 2830) needs the support of our representatives. I encourage readers to call their representatives and ask them to become sponsors. For those interested in joining this effort, International Justice Mission, Not for Sale, Stop! Task Force and WNY Path Coalition are organizations committed to this cause. We cannot afford to sit by and hope the problem will go away. Imagine that it is one of your children in bondage or being trafficked, and then recognize it is someone's child.