Justices must remain blind to any ideology
A recent letter expressed consternation for some of President Obama's remarks and decisions. Ensuing comments clearly placed the writer to the right in the political spectrum. As a political independent, I follow no ideology and always focus on the issue rather than one party. Though I disagree with some Obama decisions, I applaud his dealings with environmental issues, the fair and equal treatment of all lifestyles, women's rights, the salvation of Detroit's auto industry and the courage to attempt to offer a solution, however flawed, to one of the most pressing problems this nation has yet to look squarely in the eye -- health care.
Accusations that Obama's decisions, words and actions "have shaken public confidence" and "stand in stark contrast with the collective wisdom of a majority of Americans" are nothing but empty rhetoric. Specifics that are mentioned -- some international relationships, green energy, nuclear disarmament and the Keystone pipeline -- are evolving issues for debate with no simple right or wrong answer.
Our Supreme Court exists to interpret and protect our Constitution, not formulate policy. It is essential to our great republic that this powerful branch remain blind to any ideology. Obama's remark concerning the court may have been bold, but definitely not egregious. What qualifies as egregious are two decisions made by five conservative justices: appointing a conservative president rather than allowing democracy to play out, and striking down a 100-year ban on corporate influence on a government "of the people, by the people and for the people." This decision sparks a memory of the 1975 movie "Rollerball." It is a futuristic saga in which corporations rule the world and individual human efforts have been rendered futile. Citizens United has, perhaps, opened a door to this very frightening sci-fi future. Watch the movie, think and be very, very concerned.
Senecas' Buffalo casino will help city's economy
We were frustrated by The News editorial criticizing progress at and around Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino because it was so thin on facts. The Seneca Nation, its Council and Seneca Gaming Corp. located at Buffalo Creek because the state and city wanted a casino there. Our first choice was Cheektowaga, but a lawsuit forced us into the city. We are doing all we can as a good neighbor.
The News is wrong on the broader economics of casinos, as recent research indicates casinos are net gainers for a city's economy. A casino is better than a mall or big-box national chain store that drains profits from this region. Nation employees and Seneca citizens live here, buy food, newspapers and cars here, borrow from banks here and we reinvest in this region -- our "corporate headquarters" -- creating economic stimulus.
As The News repeatedly reported, plans for Buffalo Creek no longer include a self-contained model with a hotel and restaurants that can make such casinos islands unto themselves. We sought and gained input from our partners, including the city, community groups and nearby businesses, into the new plan and contributed $1 million in infrastructure enhancements beyond our territory.
In the past, more than $70 million in revenue crossed the Niagara River to Fort Erie. Much of that will now be captured by our casinos since Ontario is removing slots from the track there.
And in terms of legal efforts by an elite minority to thwart casino plans on the site, the only reason federal court appeals are alive is because the plaintiffs -- not the federal government defendants -- lost some important issues in those rulings. We plan to continue to work with all our partners in this endeavor, and on all issues of mutual concern, and we expect all will gain from that collaboration.
Robert Odawi Porter
President, Seneca Nation of Indians
Gillibrand is blocking efforts to create jobs
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand laments New York's loss of manufacturing supremacy, but she has been no friend to New York's manufacturing sector. Missing from her recent Another Voice in The News is the fact that New York has lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs, some 20 percent of the sector, since she was first elected to Congress in 2006.
According to the Manhattan Institute, an end to New York's moratorium on Marcellus Shale hydrofracking, which has become a multibillion-dollar industry in Pennsylvania, would spur $11.4 billion in economic output. Between 15,000 and 18,000 new jobs would be created in Western New York and the Southern Tier, where unemployment remains high. Localities and the state stand to reap $1.4 billion in tax revenues.
But not once in her article about energy policy did Gillibrand mention natural gas. That's because she remains beholden to the radical environmentalists in her own party, as she has been since she arrived in Washington.
While a congresswoman, she voted against two separate bills that would have opened up new territory to offshore drilling. She might have mentioned that in an article in which she argues for the need to increase domestic production of oil. The senator's duplicity is part of the reason that, since she joined Congress, gas prices, both nationally and in New York, have risen by 50 percent.
Chairman, New York Republican
State Committee, Albany
Improve health care with a 'public option'
If the problem (as its opponents seem to see it) with the universal health insurance law is that it requires people to buy a commercial product, I propose a modest revision in that law: put back the "public option." Actually, I'm not all that anxious to buy commercial health insurance, either, and I really want that public option. I don't want to see one out of five of my health insurance premium dollars going to corporate jets, golden parachutes or -- most egregious -- "consulting fees" to Rick Santorum or some other politician. I truly do not see what insights Santorum can offer that would improve my health care.
I'm not making these numbers up. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine some years back compared health care financing in the United States and in Canada and found that while administrative expenses in Canada came to about 5 percent of the total outlay, with 95 percent going to actual health care, in the United States the "administrative expenses" were 25 percent.
The last number apparently has not fallen and in fact may have risen, since the universal health insurance law imposed a very generous maximum of 20 percent for administrative expenses -- which would still leave a lot of money for corporate jets. Of course, it's possible that 20 percent overhead is necessary to process claims, and that the Canadian administrative structure, which is run by civil servants, may just be that much more efficient.
Linda Joe, M.D.