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Let's close loopholes and institute flat tax

There has been a lot of criticism in the media about income tax rates that millionaires' such as Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett pay. What people don't seem to think about or understand is that Romney's $42 million in income from the past two years was related to investments, not solely on a salary or bonus structure. His past salary and bonus income was taxed previously and then those funds were invested and additional money was made off of those investments. That additional income gets taxed at a long-term capital gains rate of 15 percent. Furthermore, should Romney and his wife pass away and leave those funds to their children, their children have to pay estate taxes on the inheritance. How many times does the same money need to get taxed to make people who want to redistribute the wealth happy?

In addition, Romney has accountants and consultants who advise on how to invest money and utilize legitimate tax loopholes to avoid paying taxes. Any of the other 99 percent would do the same thing if they had anywhere near the fortune Romney has earned. The answer is to close tax loopholes and have a flat tax. This 30 percent minimum tax on millionaires that President Obama has proposed will do nothing but encourage investment overseas, which is the last thing our country needs right now. Why can't people be allowed to make money and succeed without being overtaxed -- isn't that the American dream?

Jennifer Noah

Clarence Center

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Private businesses have been sucked dry

I laughed out loud when I read the Feb. 20 letter, "Examine root causes of state pension woes." The writer blames private businesses for the problems in the New York State pension system. He states, "The primary reason has been the poor performance of private enterprises to produce the profits that fuel a healthy economy and provide revenue to governments and their pension funds." Then he comes to the conclusion that a lack of analytical skills in the private sector is the cause of low profits.

This is akin to a vampire blaming his victims, after sucking them dry, for not producing enough blood to satisfy his insatiable appetite.

Bob Yavicoli

Cheektowaga

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Shelter manager is fighting losing battle

As volunteers, members and one of us a former board member, we want to express our support of Sue Davila, shelter manager. She was instrumental in establishing and operating the Wyoming County SPCA Adoption Center in the Eastern Hills Mall. A hoarder would never have put in the time and energy it took to accomplish this. Having worked with her and other volunteers to paint and refurbish the center, we can attest to her excitement about having adoptable animals readily available to a larger audience.

We have seen many examples of Davila putting the animals over her own well being. She has been fighting a losing battle of being overrun with cats. For more than two years she has stated that the shelter was not accepting cats. This policy didn't prevent cats from being abandoned by the boxful on the doorstep. It also didn't stop a former board president from trapping scores of cats around Batavia, which is in Genesee County, and bringing them to the Wyoming SPCA.

It's true that they had adoption policies in place, as any responsible shelter would. The policy of not wanting cats that had never been outdoors to be kept inside struck some as overbearing. The requirement that people who rent have permission from their landlord to have pets was seen as intrusive. Both policies were in the best interest of the animals. In the 12 years that we've been associated with the Wyoming SPCA, the only constants have been a lack of funding, overcrowding and Davila fighting through it all to save and care for the animals. One person cannot do everything that needed to be done, but she truly tried. If you feel outrage, direct it toward the irresponsible pet owners and elected officials who continue to ignore the overpopulation problem, not those doing everything they can to alleviate the situation.

Richard and Paula Thomas

North Java

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Blame Masiello, Brown for firefighters' lawsuit

Mayor Anthony Masiello was behind one of the biggest lawsuits ever won by Buffalo firefighters -- $2.7 million in damages and nearly a million in fees to the law firm hired by the city. So city taxpayers are looking at a nearly $4 million bill for firefighters and attorneys. Mayor Byron Brown took office and it was like dumb and dumber. Who was dumber, Masiello for ending the promotional list or Brown for not rectifying the problem? Three years ago, the attorney for the firefighters approached the Brown administration with a proposal to solve the problem: promote the aggrieved firefighters and pay the attorneys. Case closed. What did Brown do? Nothing. So three years and millions of dollars later, everyone loses except dumb and dumber.

Masiello walks away with a dream pension and paid health care and millions in campaign funds to dole out as he pleases. Brown, also known as "no comment" to the local press, presides over city residents as Steve Casey calls the shots. The attorneys hired by the city drag the case out for years in the courts and pocket nearly a million in fees. In the end the losers in this fiasco are the usual suspects, the city taxpayers, who end up paying, and the firefighters, who only wanted their well-deserved promotions and in the long run still don't receive them. City residents will continue to foot the bill as long as they keep electing the likes of Masiello and Brown, who continue to prove that they were both in way over their heads.

Phil Ryan

Retired fire lieutenant

Previous recording secretary

Professional Firefighters Local 282

West Seneca

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Hollywood doesn't try to address drug abuse

Adam Zyglis' editorial cartoon in the Feb. 18 edition of The News prompts us to rethink our collective tolerance of substance abuse by societal role models.

The Olympics, Major League Baseball, the National Football League and other sports businesses attempt to address the issue because drug use is a health threat to the players and performance-enhancing drugs make the competition unequal. The sports businesses make some -- however limited -- effort to present responsible role models for the public.

The entertainment business makes no effort. The airwaves are filled with stories about drug use and abuse. Irresponsible negative behavior apparently positively impacts ratings and profits. Why do we tolerate it in the entertainment world that influences societal behavior 2 4/7 , while critical of substance abuse in the sports world?

The sordid side of Hollywood is shameful both for those who are responsible for it as well as those who avidly follow the misdeeds of "celebrities."

David Schiller

Williamsville