Constitution protects U.S. Postal Service
Why don't the conservatives just come out and say it? They want to destroy the Postal Service and the unions that represent workers earning a middle-class income, and they will ignore as many facts as necessary to drive their agenda. George Will, in The Buffalo News on Nov. 28, is the latest commentator to completely sidestep the overpayments by the Postal Service of more than $100 billion to the retirement and health benefit funds.
Again and again it has been explained that the only reason the Postal Service is losing money is because we are propping up the federal government, as it skims our money off the top and then threatens to destroy the service the American people depend on. Will speculates on the loss of Saturday delivery and acknowledges the plan to go to three days a week.
Will points out that the U.S. Constitution mandates protection of the post office, but then adds that it could be privatized and taken over by Walmart, FedEx or UPS. First of all, private delivery companies deliver to a small fraction of the homes and businesses the Postal Service has the responsibility to make. Secondly, turn over a constitutionally protected right to maintain a universal communication network to Walmart? Why not privatize the military, Congress and all federal agencies to reduce all workers to minimum wage and maximize profits?
The Postal Service and its unions have done an extraordinary job of maintaining the most efficient and least expensive postal network in the world while adapting to new technology. More than 100,000 jobs have been cut in recent years. To those trying to destroy the Postal Service, do you believe in the Constitution only when it's ideologically convenient?
Robert J. McLennan
President, Branch 3, National Association of Letter Carriers Buffalo/Western New York
Funding future retirees is cause of fiscal woes
In his column of Oct. 28, "Mail it in, privately," George Will misleads readers about the real cause of the budgetary problems at the post office, even while pushing his ideological "fix" of privatization. This ideology effectively seeks to destroy the public commons, even while placing the commonwealth into private hands. Roads, libraries, parks, prisons, schools -- everything!
The present financial woes of the Postal Service are more the result of funding mandates for future retirees than any changes in communications technology.
In 2006, Congress passed a bill requiring the Postal Service to, in a 10-year period, set aside revenue in order to prefund 75 years of retiree health care benefits. Under the plan, retiree benefits would be 100 percent funded for postal workers not yet even born. No other government agency or private company bears such a burden.
In other words, this was a created crisis, much like the "budget crisis" in Wisconsin, which was a direct result of tax-cut policies Gov. Scott Walker enacted in his first days in office.
Note that in Wisconsin, the state's fiscal bureau -- the equivalent of the Congressional Budget Office -- had concluded that Wisconsin was not in need of any austerity measures, and could even see a surplus.
In October, Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., introduced H.R. 1351, the U.S. Postal Service's Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act, which would allow the Postal Service to apply billions of dollars in pension overpayments to the 2006 congressional mandate. While Lynch's bill has the support of nearly half the House, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is withholding action on it while advocating his own bill, H.R 2309, which would destroy the Postal Service as we know it.
Anyone who imagines that these "privatizations" will somehow save the taxpayers money is dreaming. It's not about saving money. Overwhelmingly, the effect is to hand over public goods and services to "cost plus" profiteers, accountable to no one but Wall Street.
Steinway piano is expertly maintained
I am puzzled by the Nov. 25 letter concerning the Kleinhans piano. I am sure the writer is referring to a second piano owned by the Philharmonic and used for orchestra piano parts and Pops concerts.
The Steinway piano, purchased jointly by the Buffalo Chamber Music Society and the Cameron Baird Foundation in 2003, is expertly maintained and, in fact, underwent a Steinway-scheduled overhaul last summer. Several stipulations accompanied the donation of the Steinway to the Philharmonic, including its use only for soloists with the orchestra and providing a humidity-controlled room at Kleinhans for the piano when not on the stage. Part of the agreement was also that the Buffalo Chamber Music Society would be able to move the piano to the Mary Seaton Room once or twice a year for performances on the chamber music series.
I invite the writer and all chamber music lovers to come and enjoy this fine instrument in a concert on May 1 in the Mary Seaton Room with Trio Solisti. The piano can also be heard in all its glory on the stage of Kleinhans in February and April when the Philharmonic will feature two prominent piano soloists. Except for those three concerts, the piano will be resting comfortably in its humidity-controlled room in the basement of Kleinhans.
Buffalo Chamber Music Society
Beautiful music flows from the BPO's piano
I am bewildered by the letter "BPO's aging piano needs to be replaced" in many ways, most especially by the fact that its conclusion comes off as a real cliff-hanger. Who is is to be taken to task and why? The Buffalo Chamber Music Society, the Cameron Baird Foundation, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra?
No solution was offered and I definitely sensed the writer may be of the thinking that the glass is "half empty." The "half full" approach came to me in an instant. A good refinishing job. In addition, and most importantly, the writer referred only to the outside shell of the piano, not the beautiful music that flows so exquisitely from within it. I cannot even imagine Director JoAnn Falletta settling for anything less.
Audrey M. Mangan
Society must stop offering handouts
I was appalled reading the article, "College tuition guarantee in the works" in the Nov. 20 News. The thought that all city graduates will be handed 100 percent scholarships is a slap in the face to all middle-class Western New Yorkers who work and sacrifice to send their children to college. Working New Yorkers already subsidize the Buffalo and SUNY school systems with outrageous state taxes.
I do have an alternative. Let's guarantee an entry-level job for graduates so that they can pay for college like the rest of us. The age of handouts has got to end!
Footing bill for tuition is a worthy endeavor
It is interesting to read various opinions in this column and to be presented with views different from my own. On Nov. 25, this may have gone too far for me. One reader voiced a concern -- how will he find workers to clean his septic tank, mow his lawn, repair potholes and so forth?
Why such concern? Are young people leaving the area? No. This gentleman maintains that if too many young people go to college, there will be no one willing to complete these tasks. He is referring to the current effort to make college affordable to any City of Buffalo high school graduate. If this plan is successful, too many youth will get college educations. Really? I can only hope to have such problems.
Arena was too large for the Rieu concert
I agree with a recent letter writer that the turnout for the Andre Rieu concert was disappointing. It was somewhat embarrassing that our community showed so little interest in such beautiful music and a world-renowned artist. The concert was certainly first class! Although the First Niagara Center may be a fine venue for rock concerts, it was definitely too large for the Rieu concert. Perhaps two separate shows at Kleinhans would have accommodated those interested patrons in a more appropriate setting with much better acoustics.
The poor ticket sales, however, speak volumes about the economic and cultural decline of our community. Is it any wonder why so many good concerts and shows either skip Buffalo or appear on a weeknight, saving the premium weekend appearances for larger cities?
Arnold J. Di Scipio
Tickets to see Rieu were too expensive
I can give a recent letter writer one major reason why the attendance at the Andre Rieu concert was poor. My wife and I were very interested in attending the concert. We logged on to the Ticketmaster website and there were tickets available for $70. Expensive, but we thought the concert would be worth it. We clicked to order the tickets and then all the add-on fees popped up. The tickets ended up costing more than $100 each, which was out of our price range.
If the promoters priced the concert more reasonably, I am sure the seats would have been filled -- a win for both the concertgoers and the promoters. The Ticketmaster fees are an excessive add-on and these two potential attendees were not going to pay.
It will take a long time to undo GOP's damage
President George W. Bush protected the job creators in 2001 and 2003 with massive tax cuts that favored the rich. An economic miracle occurred. Unemployment droped to 1 percent and the economy created 30 million new jobs. The stock market rallied, topping 15,000 on the Dow. Because the economy was doing so well, the Republican candidate for president, John McCain, beat Barack Obama in the 2008 election.
Oh, wait! This never happened. But the Republicans are still trying to protect job creators by voting against any tax increases. It's time for voters to realize Republicans were responsible for a Katrina-like disaster in our economy, and it will take several administrations to undo the damage. Republicans blame Obama's inexperience for not correcting the economic mess sooner. The Republican administration had all kinds of experience and still put us into the economic mess. My advice to voters is to rehire the party that is doing its best to clean up this mess.