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Strengthening middle class would give economy a boost

Nick Hanauer is very wealthy. In 2007, he sold a software company he created to Microsoft for $6.4 billion. He is founder of a capital fund called Second Avenue Partners. He has this idea that cutting taxes for the middle class has a bigger impact on job creation and increasing the U.S. economy than the Republican idea of cutting the taxes of the top 1 percent. Yes, wealthy people create companies (and jobs) but without consumers those companies and jobs evaporate.

Hanauer notes that there are far more middle-class folks than the top 1 percenters. More importantly, he notes that since 1980, the wealthy have gotten much richer and the middle class has not. In fact, if the middle class today enjoyed the same percentage of wealth as in 1980, we would be earning $13,000 more than we are on average in 2011. Just think of the consumer power that extra money would create.

Finally, a point about the Occupy folks, from Wall Street to the West Coast. I am tired of the right-wingers, from Rush Limbaugh to Newt Gingrich to our own Sandy Beach, continually hammering them. Take a bath, stop sponging and get a job! I'll concede that some of their disjointed "demands" are over the top. Almost like the NBA negotiations between millionaires and billionaires. But here are the facts. Some folks took big gambles with other folks' money and lost. They were bailed out and then got huge bonuses. How can the "little guys" be faulted for being angry? Sure, there are welfare cheats and freeloaders who scam the system. But what they "steal" is overshadowed greatly by the schemes engineered by well-connected, white-collar Democratic and Republican operators.

Robert Snyder

Clarence Center

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Williamsville North is an outstanding school

I'm furious! After basking in the joy and pleasure of listening to my daughter and five other Williamsville North students at the NYSSMA Conference All State concerts on Sunday, I read Monday's headlines in The News about the suspension of some North students. Really? Suspension of a few deserving students is front-page news?

The students at this school have suffered enough from all of the unfair negative publicity of the past few months. Williamsville North is an outstanding educational institution run by a dedicated, hard-working and wonderful administration. My experience with my children's teachers has always been positive and I've often marveled how lucky my children have been to have had them. The vast majority of the students are terrific teenagers with amazing accomplishments who also have a strong tradition of community service they can be proud of.

Diane Kranz

Amherst

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Most gun show dealers, promoters obey the law

On Nov. 30, I read the article about the gun show stings conducted by the State Attorney General's Office. The word "dealer" was misused in this article. The people arrested in this sting were not gun dealers and they do not hold a federal firearms license. They were individuals conducting private sales. These people broke the law, and that's a fact and they should be punished.

But let's not blame the promoters and actual dealers who are following the laws. The guns shows that I have attended have had signs posted and flyers stating that all transactions by dealers and private sales must have background checks performed, along with instructions on where to go and what to do.

This sting has a "let's find someone who fails and blame everyone" motive with the gun shows as a target, and smells like a classic "blame the gun and not the criminal" stench. The attorney general stated the sting targeted the show operators, yet nothing stated that they had done anything illegal.

Of the thousands who attend, purchase and sell at these gun shows, only 10 people were arrested. The percentage is extremely small. Yet this has been all over the media, including newspapers, TV and radio, like this was a major crackdown. In fact, it was far from it. What we do not hear is how many man hours it took, or the stretch of time this was performed. Or even better, how many dealers and promoters were legitimate and law-abiding. If public safety is the matter of interest, as stated in the article, then why not give a presence at these shows promoting the laws and educating the public?

Dave Smyczynski

East Aurora

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Republican candidates are unfairly scrutinized

If the media had given candidate Barack Obama one-tenth of the scrutiny in 2008 that they are now giving each and every possible Republican candidate for the 2012 election, America would not be in the moral and economic mess we now face. And, his baggage is still hidden.

Barbara Pelosi

Williamsville

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Western New York should complete local greenway

The idea of a Western New York Greenway was recently presented as a catalytic project to the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. One council representative termed it "transformational." It utilizes the current stockpile of assets within the five counties of Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany. This idea addresses smart growth, economic development, health and youth needs while unifying, enhancing, expanding and promoting New York State tourism.

The Western New York Greenway would utilize abandoned rail beds and natural trails to create a logical unified network of "linkages." This is accomplished by taking already existing trails like Genesee Greenway, Upper Genesee Trail, Chautauqua Rails-to-Trails, Pat McGee Trail, North Country Scenic Trail, Finger Lakes Trail, North Country National Scenic Trail, Allegany River Trail and Bicentennial Bike Trail as the means of "linkage" to our tourism "hubs" -- Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Niagara Falls, Niagara Gorge, Allegany River, Chautauqua Lake, Erie Canal, Buffalo waterfront, Tifft Nature Preserve, Botanical Gardens, Kissing Bridge, Zoar Valley, Ellicottville, Holiday Valley, HoliMont, Seneca-Allegany Casino and Allegany State Park.

This strategy has already begun to be implemented with the proposed Buffalo-Niagara Greenway, Erie-Cattaraugus Rail Trail, Pop Warner Trail, Genesee River Wilds, Seneca Nation of Indians-Pat McGee Trail connection to Allegany State Park, Allegany River Trail expansion, Chautauqua Greenway and the Cherry Creek area trail system. We just need to "connect the dots" by completing the gaps between these trails and we would create a greenway that would connect our cities, villages and towns with our most attractive natural resources while creating another tourism attraction within itself. The Western New York Greenway is a simple and practical opportunity to nationally showcase our region.

Rick LeFeber

Executive Director, Cattaraugus

Local Development Corp.