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We're better off now?than four years ago

This is in response to the oft-asked Republican candidate's question, "Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" Am I? Well, consider:

In November 2008, the Dow Jones average was hanging around 7,500. My investments that I was relying on for my retirement were down about 40 percent. Today, the Dow crested 13,500. My funds have recouped their losses, and I am feeling much more secure about my retirement finances.

As for the country in general, four years ago, unemployment was at 10 percent; now it is at 8.1 percent and falling gradually. The housing bubble had burst, with disastrous consequences for both homeowners and the housing industry. Today, the housing industry and home prices have rebounded significantly, while mortgage rates have dropped, and regulations have been put in place to prevent unscrupulous lending.

Meanwhile, our great auto industry was in its death throes, with GM about to go under. But disaster was averted by the government bailouts, and now America's auto industry is back and doing very well.

Health care for all has been improved by the Affordable Care Act, which has made health insurance coverage available to many more Americans who otherwise could not obtain it.

While I empathize with young people having a tough time coping with the job market, I note that 3 million jobs are going begging because of a lack of suitable applicants. But the current administration has provided funds for job retraining, and would have made more assistance available, as well as numerous construction jobs aimed at restoring our infrastructure, had Republican legislators not played a totally obstructionist role.

So, yes, I am much better off after the past four years, and so is America.

Michael Silverman

Amherst

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Romney has a right? to voice his opinion

Many are slamming Mitt Romney for making a statement deploring the violence against the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Is it possible that if he had made no statement, he would have been remiss for that, too? Citizens of this country have a right to voice an opinion. Is there an exception that applies to presidential candidates? He's running for president he better have an opinion and he better step up and give it.

Many fault Romney for deploring the Egyptian violence rather than recognizing that Muslim demonstrators were supposedly provoked by a video. Let me draw a parallel. If a woman wearing provocative dress is raped, does one first deplore the provocative dress, rattle on about how disgusting and reprehensible the clothing is and then, in some kind of due time, get around to deploring the crime?

The administration seems to want to insist that a video that hardly anyone knew about provoked Muslim reaction. Its statements are avoiding the very real possibility that the video was used to convene an organized, hate-filled reaction. We ought to be interested in who translated it into Arabic, making it quite accessible to Muslims. And why. How did it happen that a single item came soaring out of the numberless masses of things on the Internet and, like some sort of cosmic magnet, drew throngs of protesters into the streets?

Margaret Kearney

Lake View

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Obama has no idea ?how the world works

I realize I'm just a retired math teacher and therefore have absolutely no foreign policy experience whatsoever, which by the way is the same amount Barack Obama had when he was sworn in as president, but even I can figure out that every year as Sept. 11 approaches we need to have beefed-up, well-armed security in place at American embassies around the world. And again, even I can figure out that this would be especially true in the Middle East, where radical Muslims seem to be pretty much free to do whatever they want.

Forget for a moment what many of us see as this president's mishandling of domestic issues. Those can be chalked up to fundamental disagreements on what America should look like internally, and we can agree to disagree on those. Foreign policy is a different matter. American embassies are on American soil. Any attack such as the one in Libya, which cost American lives, and the other attacks in Yemen, Egypt and Sudan should be treated as attacks on the United States itself and met with deadly force.

This president has no idea how the world actually works and his continued appeasement of governments and terrorists outside Afghanistan and Pakistan projects an image of weakness to our friends and enemies alike. Witness his professed discomfort with the notion of America as an "exceptional nation." This is exactly how we need to be viewed by the rest of the world, but he just doesn't get it.

Obama's policies are going to continue to cost American lives and property overseas and continue to reduce our influence in world affairs. We cannot afford four more years of this ineptness and incompetence. Throw him out in November to save our country.

Chuck Godfrey

Cheektowaga

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Romney will hammer ?shrinking middle class

Would you buy a car from someone if he refused to tell you the details, color, specs, even the price, until you signed a contract? That's exactly what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are doing; they won't reveal how they will solve all financial problems until after the election. First they said, "We'll put our facts on the table," then they didn't. Sort of like their tax returns; we can see all of last year's returns after the election. But only two years, please.

I think we might find some huge surprises if Romney were elected, like increased everything for the middle class, while the wealthy go laughing away with more tax breaks they don't need.

No more Medicaid when your parents need a nursing home. Want to attend college or start a business? Borrow from your parents, says Mitt. Medicare, which you've paid in all your life? You'll get a coupon sorry if it's not enough. The whole premise of voting for the GOP is illogical, since these are the guys who ran up the deficit. Ronald Reagan quadrupled it, George H.W. Bush doubled it down and then his son knocked it out of the park with tax cuts during wartime, mostly for the wealthy. Unheard of.

The middle class as Romney defines it, "Those who make $200,000 to $250,000 or less" is really going to be hit, and that's why we can't have details. I sure would like to be in that imaginary middle class of his.

The Republicans blocked President Obama in Congress seeking economic growth with an agenda only to remove him, not help the people as a whole, which seems a bit treasonous, and then they blame him for not fixing their mess.

Businessmen elected to office: Chris Collins and Herbert Hoover. At least Hoover became a great humanitarian.

Alex Park

Buffalo

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Hold steady course? through rough seas

Our ship, the USA, is sailing through some very turbulent foreign seas right now. We must hold a steady course and not try to switch captains at this crucial time. No mutiny allowed! This is not the time to abandon ship. We must all pull together to weather this storm.

J. Sam Miller

East Aurora

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Navy Week events? were truly fantastic

I would like to comment on the recent Buffalo Navy Week taking place around the city. In my humble opinion, the ship tours and other public events held Sept. 11 to 16 were the most exciting things to happen on the waterfront in many years. My gratitude goes out to everyone involved in these fantastic events, from the fine service men and women of our armed forces who represented themselves with kindness, class and professionalism, to the planners and organizers who coordinated the entire program. I am proud of them all. Everyone did a super job and I wish we could have these kinds of activities to bring more people to the waterfront every year.

Brian Wroblewski

Hamburg

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Let Shea's volunteers? watch shows for free

Shea's Performing Arts Center would be a crumbling hulk sitting on Main Street amid a bunch of other crumbling hulks if it wasn't for the hard work and treasure of a lot of volunteers.

Now that success has come to the Shea's, how about a little slack and pay-back for the volunteers in regard to seeing the shows for free. It seems to me these volunteers have an awful lot of sweat equity in this institution. They are not seeing the shows for free.

Bernie Czarnecki

Sanborn

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Simple ways to cut? waste in health care

In the Sept. 7 issue of The News, there was an article indicating that $750 billion is wasted annually on health care. Here are two simple ideas that may aid in lowering costs, but are not likely to have a chance of flying in today's world.

First, many MRIs, bone scans, CT scans, PSA blood draws, etc., are indeed necessary, but if the results are negative, eliminate the follow-up scheduled visit. The patient could be called with the good news and the appointment canceled. No office visit, no expense. Additional bonuses: no automobile fuel wasted, and no absence from work.

Second, just stop prescribing routine mammograms, colonoscopies and PSA examinations for anyone over 75. They generally are unnecessary for anyone above this age.

The amount to be saved is incalculable, but would surely be in the millions daily. It's a start.

Jack Hailand

Tonawanda