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Importance of writing cannot be overlooked

In the Feb. 2 My View, the writer asserts that our society needs to improve the thinking abilities of our public school students by improving their writing skills. I couldn't agree more.

In this republic, with democratically elected governments, an electorate that can think is absolutely essential. Language use is at the heart of this; language and abstract thought are intertwined. This was a major idea in George Orwell's novel, "1984." In it, the government tried to control people's thoughts by controlling the language they used -- controlling their thoughts by controlling what they could think. Without a word for freedom, could you think about it?

In a strange way, the rules of grammar and style actually have a freeing effect, showing the writer the way to better expression. A writer, trying to find a way to express a thought grammatically and clearly, is thinking about his idea, so it could be said that the rules of language are rules of thinking; as language goes, so goes thought. As thought goes, so goes our republic.

In my personal experience, I've found that as my ability to write has improved, so has my ability to think. Which is not at all to say that a well-turned phrase makes one some kind of genius (sadly, it doesn't). But he who learns better ways to say things is smarter than he used to be.

Show me a people who can write, and I'll show you a people who can think. We will need tomorrow's voters to think. We now need to show them how.

Jeff Duska

Buffalo

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Hiding money overseas doesn't create jobs here

The tour through Mitt Romney's tax return feels like one of those TV shows taking us into the opulent mansions of the rich and famous. By now, we all know that Romney pays a 15 percent tax rate on his millions, less percentage-wise than many middle-class taxpayers. But we also learn new things, like when income is not income but some obscure category known only to tax accountants, and it reverts back to that friendly 15 percent level. What lobby got to what committee on that one we can only imagine.

We also have questions. We know that millionaires must be treated gently when it comes to taxes because they are "job providers." But how does Romney provide jobs in the United States when he stashes money in far-off places like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands? I'm sure a few economists and most Republicans can explain how all this is good for us, but I'm mystified.

Carl Jacobs

Tonawanda

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Occupiers promote a socialist agenda

The Occupy Wall Street protesters allegedly represent 99 percent of the population, as opposed to the rich 1 percent who, according to the Wall Street Journal, earn more than $506,000 annually. In order to rectify the disparity in income between the two groups, the occupiers are demanding a redistribution of wealth, euphemistically called "economic justice." Make no mistake, this is class warfare. However, if the occupiers prevail, it is the middle class that will ultimately bear the increased tax burden; not the 1 percent, who never have and never will.

Like national health care and environmentalism, redistribution is a component of the socialist agenda. What we are seeing is Fabian socialism, an insidious, piecemeal approach to a full-blown socialist state. Once manifested, the government will usurp the constitutional freedoms we've always taken for granted.

The occupiers themselves are essentially an insignificant handful of squatters consisting primarily of naive young idealists, nostalgic hippie throwbacks and assorted malcontents -- mindless pawns duped into doing the dirty work of rich socialists and opportunists. Ignorant of the reasons for the economic chaos roiling world markets and of the financial crises ravaging Greece, Italy and Spain, the occupiers would condemn America to similar ruin. Having been indoctrinated by left-wing professors, or having been otherwise ill-educated, these occupiers know nothing of our founding principles or of the historical failures of socialism.

Should the occupiers succeed in their ignoble quest, they would help transform us into wards of the state, subject to the regulations of thuggish bureaucrats who alone will thrive. Such is the hellish legacy the occupiers and their liberal supporters would bequeath to us all.

James Costa

Elma

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Israel is trying to lure U.S. into another war

Is it the upcoming American presidential election that has reignited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's relentless attempt to lure America into another confrontation with the Middle East? Rarely are Israel's nuclear bombs brought up in any discussion of the problem with Iran; nor do most of us mention that country's refusal to budge on its illegal and fast-growing settlements, which have already caused hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to either leave their homes or live under brutally horrid conditions in Gaza.

So President Obama, our only hope against another disastrous American attack on still another Middle Eastern nation, will again give in to Republican warmongers, whose pandering to Netanyahu is not only dishonorable, but dangerous to the whole world, including principled Israeli civilians. We hold our breath, then, while sanctions are put in place, so that "friends," right-wing Israelis, will hold back on their use of real nuclear bombs in Iran.

Is it the 900-plus anti-Arab American films that have made us blind to the injustices in the Middle East and allowed us to act as if the lives of Arabs -- both Christians and Muslims -- have less value than ours? We deny the West's own appetite for terrorism: the monstrous Holocaust, even our own murderous Civil War.

Norm Tederous

Williamsville

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Incentives won't fix New York's problems

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's recently announced plan to divert up to $1 billion of taxpayer money to encourage business expansion in Western New York is just one more example of government coming up with the wrong solution. Leave aside the arguable question of whether state government has the necessary competency to decide which private enterprises deserve investment of taxpayer funds.

As a state with one of the highest tax rates in the nation, New York government should be focusing its efforts on reducing expenditures and concurrently reducing personal and corporate tax rates across the board. Implementing a few billion in personal and corporate tax reduction measures would be more effective long term in creating the necessary incentives for small and large businesses to expand and/or relocate throughout New York. The recent trillion-dollar federal "stimulus" initiatives failed to produce a significant turnaround in the nation's economy. When will we learn?

Bob Coffey

Hamburg