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Try walking a mile? in someone's shoes

Just the other day I got involved in one of those conversations you know you are not supposed to be in. Yes, it was about politics. And even though I have always respected other people's views and their right to belong or support the party of their choice, I was attacked. I was called a bleeding heart liberal, and asked how I could be so stupid and foolish to support my liberal ways.

When I was in high school in the 1960s, my family suffered from very difficult financial times. As a result, I was the first student at Hutchinson-Central Technical to be granted a free hot lunch due to hardships. I will never forget the tough times my mother was going through. A meal was so appreciated.

I had a homeroom teacher who was not afraid to let us all know what her political beliefs were, and she certainly made them clear every morning as she called my name. "Mr. Swan, please come to the front of the room and pick up your free lunch ticket that we all pay for."

Was it difficult to face my classmates each day? Yes. Did my family ask for the position we were put into? Of course not. Did I appreciate this social program given to me? I most certainly did. Did it educate me at an early age of one's ignorance? Yes. Did it shape me into the bleeding heart liberal I am today? Yes it did.

I look back now at those times and I am truly thankful of all I learned. It made me a stronger, more compassionate person. But I learned most of all, first hand, just how important some social service programs are and not to judge others, because after all I was once there. It is very easy to take a position on political opinion, but unless you have lived it, you will truly never know what you are talking about.

Christopher M. Swan Sr.

Hamburg

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State breaks promises ?and cannot be trusted

The stench is building from Albany through the air waves. Commercials for state-run gambling slots, in violation of Indian treaties, are appearing, promising that revenue will go to education. How did the promise for lottery money for education go? The money went to a convenient "general fund." I will only lose my money in Indian-run casinos. I would rather support them than the lies of the state gambling lobbyists.

Patricia Butler

Williamsville

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‘Obamacare' imperils? our religious freedom

In regard to the Affordable Care Act, there is the issue of women's rights versus religious liberty. As a woman and a former Catholic school employee for 23 years, I know this to be true: this health care mandate is an outright assault on religious freedom. With the implementation of roughly 2,700 pages of legislation (not read by our representatives prior to passing), faith-based institutions are forced to comply with government regulations that go against the tenets of the faith, or face major consequences.

During all my years in the Catholic school system, there was no war on me. Here's the freedom I did have: the freedom to send my resume anywhere; to accept an interview or decline; to accept a job offer or reject one. I freely chose to place myself in Catholic schools. I was never a victim of anything. What freedom did these Catholic schools have? The freedom to shape their identity based on the core beliefs of the faith. It was my obligation to understand what they stood for as their employee. Freedom needs to work both ways. There is never true freedom when in order to gain what one desires, we gladly strip away the fundamental rights of another human being.

The true American ideals are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (to the exclusion of no one). With this bill, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has control to make unilateral decisions. Thus, in the attempt to provide health insurance for all on the one hand, the sanctity of life and liberty are completely destroyed on the other. Therefore, should "Obamacare" move forward, it ultimately results in America's self-destruction.

Kathryn Missert

Cheektowaga

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Critics are not jealous, ?they are simply outraged

I challenge recent letters to the editor accusing critics of extreme earnings and wealth accumulation by major entrepreneurs and managers of industry of jealousy. Did they determine this by applying a jealousy meter to a representative sample of socialists?

I suggest that jealousy isn't the emotion motivating them. Rather, it is outrage over the gluttonous plutocrats taking a grossly undeserved hunk of the economic pie, which leaves a lot less for the rest. Outrage over the arrogance displayed when they, their wanna-bes and defenders claim this is their reward for success, hard work and intelligence. As if others from various vocations lack these qualities, and are therefore inferior to the great "lords of creation." The "inferiors'?" contribution is just as vital to the success of a nation and its economy as those in the top 3 percent. Don't believe that? Just imagine if all "inferiors" took off the same day.

There is outrage that those with excessive wealth are able to choke democracy by purchasing politicians who believe that the self-interests of the plutocracy are the same as the nation's, or using their wealth to gain political positions themselves and directly promote their interest.

There is still more outrage that health care, infrastructure repairs and other social needs can't be met in part because a disproportionate amount of wealth flows in the wrong direction.

Daniel P. Adanti

Springville

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Why is Gillibrand ?ducking debates?

With most New Yorkers' attention focused on the presidential election, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's debate-ducking is flying under the radar. To date, Gillibrand's opponent, Wendy Long, has accepted five separate debate requests while Gillibrand has agreed to only one, which will air only in upstate New York and New York City, ignoring the people of Long Island and the Hudson Valley.

Out of one side of her mouth, Gillibrand calls herself "a trailblazer for more openness and transparency," while out of the other, she says "no" to the chance to make her case for re-election directly to New Yorkers.

Perhaps she is hesitant to defend her abysmal record as a legislator: 117 of the 131 bills she has introduced have died in committee, and none of the 14 bills that passed had to do with jobs for New Yorkers.

Perhaps she is hesitant to defend her flip-flops on gun control, illegal immigration and gay marriage.

Perhaps she is hesitant to defend her abiding loyalty to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose role in using public money to hush up victims of serial sexual abuse has prompted ethics and criminal investigations of his actions, as well as calls for his resignation.

If Gillibrand is serious about representing the people of New York, she owes it to them to have a series of debates with Long all across the state.

Ed Cox

Chairman, New York Republican State Committee