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Let's focus on what's best? for the people, our nation

In less than 100 days, we will be electing new representatives to our governments. Our respective political parties are busy tweaking their "platforms" a list of actions and beliefs in favor of or in opposition to significant social policies for the big push this fall. It is also the time of the year when our governments are preparing their budgets.

Make no mistake about it; at their core elections and budgets reveal as much, if not more, about the people's needs and values than they do about the politicians themselves.

Given the ongoing financial climate, it is no surprise that money, especially in the form of taxes, will be the determining factor for who gets elected and what budgets are adopted. It follows that the election and budgetary results, i.e., money, will reflect our collective needs and values.

So in the midst of all the political jockeying, commercials and rhetoric we will be subjected to, how can we clarify what our greatest needs and values should be, as individuals, communities and as a nation?

I propose that we hold up the opening words of our Constitution like a beacon we the people.

Our elections and budgets should be neither ends in themselves, nor chiefly about the individual. They should be, first and foremost, means for securing our nation's declaration in behalf of the inalienable rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" for ourselves and our posterity.

We should be asking the question: What are the needs of that which is of greatest value to us and our nation, namely, the people?

Through our elections and budgets the people's platform, if you will we can act in behalf of and believe in others. Put another way, we can do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Michael Sherry

Orchard Park

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Selecting justices should ?return to public participation

The editorial page headline of July 29th read, "Public input sought for Court of Appeals vacancy." The real public input for all the court members should be to return to selection "by the electors of the state." That phrase was in the text of the State Constitution prior to 1977.

In November of that year an amendment was passed to create the current commission nominating process.

I do not know what the sales pitch was at that time to deprive the people of the right to select the justices of the most important court of the state.

The issue may have suffered from confusion, as being one of nine that were on the ballot that year. One question was for a constitutional convention that was rejected.

Given New York's incestuous politics, we need a return to public participation in this somewhat less public operation of state government. This would be consistent with all the furor over voting rights these days.

Donald G. Hobel

North Tonawanda

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Culture is based on choices?that have consequences

Is there a correlation between Israeli and Palestinian cultures and their economies, as Mitt Romney suggested on his recent foreign tour? Culture is not preordained but a series of conscious choices based on moral values the "virtue of the people," as John Adams noted.

Japan followed an imperial path that led to its downfall in World War II, but then chose industrial democracy, which rebuilt the country and its economy. Vietnam is a more recent example of stability through cultural transformation. Success in our own "Grand Experiment" is an obligation to evolution, a balancing act in preserving the virtues of the past with our decisions for the future.

Too many in Palestine are caught in a culture of enmity. "Palestinians for Dignity" protest the Palestinian Authority, President Abbas, the European Union and their fellow Palestinians for their cooperation with Israel. A Hamas television program for children, "Tomorrow's Pioneers," promotes martyrdom as a positive goal for children in Gaza. Terrorist organizations enjoy political power through a culture of intolerance.

These are choices and they are palpable.

A recent World Bank report on Palestine's economy suggests short-term growth might be achieved through trade in the West Bank, but cautions that Israel is unlikely to ease its security measures to aid this commerce. Might this have to do with those choices?

Indeed, a society's culture does dictate its fate.

Martin E. Mutka

Williamsville

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Post office should raise ?cost of sending junk mail

I didn't pick up my mail for three or four days. When I finally did, I got the usual bills, a magazine, a catalog and 14 envelopes with notices like "please rush," "urgent," "priority," "confidential," "important," "already won" and "VIP prize" printed on them. Yes, junk mail.

The thing that caught my attention was that the postage paid on each of them was only 13 cents. And there were two 9-by-12 envelopes, also junk, that were mailed for 21 cents.

We hear that the post office is in trouble. We hear of possible closings, etc. Could it be that if the Postal Service increased the cost of sending junk mail, it could make a profit? And maybe the amount of junk mail would be reduced, which would be fine with most of us.

Marc Ansell

Wales Center

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Airlines are flying high ?on the passenger dime

In the Money Smart section of The News regarding airline seating policies, it seems that airlines are getting less friendly every day. All they want is more money every which way they can.

In the first place, they put maximum seating on planes, it is so difficult to get up from your seat. For people who are taller and heavier it is most uncomfortable to sit in a cramped seat.

They want to charge passenger luggage not just a nominal fee but a considerable amount.

No food or drinks are offered on two- hour flights. In order to fly, people leave their homes two hours before flight times, then they have to stand in lines for quite some time before they get to the boarding area. They are not allowed any drinks, even water.

I understand that rule is for security purposes and, for that reason, it should not be difficult for airlines to serve drinks. If your flight is for a long distance, they do not provide blankets unless you are a first class passenger. Now they do not promise that families will be allowed to sit together unless they fork out extra money.

I think enough is enough; we should complain. People just agree to do whatever the airlines want. We need to tell them we will not comply with all the ridiculous demands.

I feel I am the only one who is mad at all the restrictions imposed by the airlines.

Sulabha Marathe

Amherst