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Advocates of 'freedom' ignore important issue

Anybody want to bet that our right-wing, activist Supreme Court will give a fair hearing to Obamacare? I thought not.

Advocates of "freedom" will cheer. Their freedom comes cheap. They don't buy insurance, because they get all the privileges of membership in a community with none of the responsibility. When they get into a car accident or fall sick, I have to pay their medical costs, through higher premiums on the insurance I buy for my family. Because this cost is levied by gigantic corporations rather than the government, lovers of freedom from paying one's share don't count it as a tax.

Adding insult to injury, since they get their care in emergency rooms, it costs a lot more than it would if they had their own insurance. But why should they care? They're not paying. That's why responsible American health care costs so much more for so much less than in other countries.

I suspect many advocates of this specious freedom from personal responsibility are sincere. They think their high-priced emergency room care is free, or they don't think about who pays after they've been hit by a drunken driver. They have no reason to think about it, and since I don't want them to die, I'll go on paying. But please, spare me the cheers about "preserving our freedom." Your freedom involves my serfdom. It's freedom from taking responsibility for yourselves, not freedom from government oppression. You are the oppressors.

Robert K. Dentan

Buffalo

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Wait for the whole story before creating uproar

As an 86-year-old World War II Marine and a retired state trooper, I and many others fully realize that taking action before fully and completely reviewing all aspects of any situation may be very humiliating when all aspects are finally learned.

The situation in Sanford, Fla., has created some bad actions by some, who are reacting in a manner indicating their inability to wait for the whole story. It is sincerely unfortunate that someone was killed, but the reaction before all of the information is examined may result in further danger. Some of our state senators have hastily shown their decisions for right or wrong. And the Rev. Al Sharpton must have forgotten that he was once penalized for actions he took in a case that turned out to be a "fluke."

In the problems we have today with wars, health care, the economy and the price of gasoline, those who have been elected to do their duty need to use a little common sense to find the solutions.

Clinton Salmon

Chaffee

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Serious debate needed on use of U.S. power

David Ignatius is one of the most erudite international affairs columnists. His recent column, "Three views of American power," mentioned three new books. Ignatius concluded, "I hope Kagan, Ikenberry and Kupchan will stimulate the honest political debate America needs about how best to use its power." This is dead-on the most important issue of our times. All of our lives are going to be impacted by near-term developments, and if anything is clear, it is that the politicians are making numerous mistakes, with war in the offing. War in currencies, trade, rights, liberty and militarily.

However, these issues are not being left only to political representatives. Our nation is being introspected by special and qualified non-governmental organizations that offer counsel and advice, often unknown by the public and media. They cannot interfere with the will of the leaders and citizens, but they are prepared when certain choices come up for decision. Things can get worse before they get better, until the weight of disintegration of Ignatius' "deep structure of power" cannot be denied.

This is the last act of what Shakespeare referred to in saying, "All the world's a stage" in the seven phases of civilization, and we are all actors. The world must reach its climax as intended by the creator, with needed interventions always at work in the guise of counselors, inventors and educators. While the decisions will be those of the political leaders, some wise heads will eventually listen to what our constitutional framers originated. Then, America will be readied to truly lead the world on its supreme mission. As Ignatius advised, the debate has begun and must be carried forward. Otherwise, the supreme mistake might be made.

David R. Conners

Eggertsville

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Why must stores scan a customer's license?

The other day, I returned a relatively inexpensive item ($50) to a local store. I presented the clerk with the item and receipt and was asked for my driver's license, which was scanned into their system. The same thing happened when I returned a Christmas gift to a different store in January.

While I understand that retailers are using this information to prevent fraudulent returns, I object to the use and scanning of this information. In both instances, I was told that a return could not be processed without this information. My driver's license information is now also scanned into computers by medical providers, increasing the risk of having my identity stolen.

With identity theft being one of the fastest-growing crimes in America, why are consumers being forced to make it easier for the thieves? I also understand that medical insurance fraud has become a growing concern and I don't have a problem with them looking at my license, but do they need to scan it?

As someone who has already been at risk for identity theft due to the "theft" of a computer containing not only my identity information but also medical information, and a career in banking where I've seen customers' lives in turmoil because of identity theft, I believe that the American consumer should have some control over how much information is stored by various business entities.

Judy Raisig

Amherst

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Greed plays big part in soaring gas prices

At the end of the first quarter of 2012, the price of crude oil per barrel is up only 4 percent. The price of ethanol, an additive for unleaded gas, is down 2.3 percent. Yet the cost of a gallon of unleaded gas at the pump is up 26.6 percent. Wait a second, that can't be right.

Let's see, I'm 70 years old and have only an associate's degree, well short of an MBA, so my reasoning here has to be wrong. We use less gas, drive more fuel-efficient cars, read all the articles about improving our mpg and follow them.

There has to be an equation for determining profit margins and I must be missing one of the factors here. I wonder if greed fits in someplace? I remember the symbols for sodium (Na), oxygen (O), gold (Au), silver (Ag), etc., but none for greed. One of my friends told me the other day that the government was investigating the spiraling cost of gas and I'm just wondering: How is that going?

Joe Maciejewski

Alden