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Nation must live? within its means

The troubles of we Americans dealing with the economy reminds me of my younger days working in the Merchant Marines. At sea, during the long evenings with nothing to do, the crew would start the typical poker game. As the evening wore on, there were always a few crew members who ran out of money. You could hear them coming. "Hey, could you lend me 20 bucks till next Monday?" "I'm hot; I know I'm going to win big."

Some guys would finish the trip with their total pay gambled away. We Americans seem to be in the same "boat." Our forthcoming "fiscal cliff" (actually a fiscal slope) is simply reminding us of the need to live within our means instead of running around borrowing more money to continue our consumption greater than our production.

Let's flex our fiscal "muscles" and face the years to come responsibly, not just for ourselves but for our kids and grandkids. The shock is actually the reality we will have to meet, now sooner than a worse later.

David F. Baker

Buffalo

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Pledge to Norquist? derails compromise

If people want to know why we have a problem with the budget in Congress, then they need to understand that most of the representatives in the House have signed a pledge to a lobbyist pledging a narrow and unbending position on their vote. This is a disgrace.

I am not as concerned about the contents of the pledge as much as the act of surrendering their obligation to represent the will of the people who elected them. To surrender their vote to a single static position in a changing world is tantamount to not representing their constituency. How can we have any type of compromise if most of the elected representatives have already signed a pledge that does not allow them to represent their constituency in an ongoing and flexible manner?

Instead, the views of one Grover Norquist represent the signed position of the majority of our representatives. I suggest that before the House tries to negotiate a fiscal deal, the people who have signed the pledge put the interest of the nation before those of Norquist. They should stand before the House and tear up their pledge so we can move forward. It should never have happened, and it should never happen again.

John Brandenberger

Buffalo

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The almighty dollar ?won on Thanksgiving

So the big stores decided to tell people, "Don't take time for Thanksgiving this year; just give that up and come spend money. We can give you great rewards, great savings, a reason for your commitment and devotion."

And they said to their workers, "You must serve us now. Your commitment to your God, your faith and your family doesn't matter. You are our servants and you will be punished severely if you do not come and labor as we command." And their workers said, "Yes, Pharaoh."

So the workers slaved away and the people came, in droves. They waited in line for hours so as to rush in and bow down at the tables of merchandise.

There was no time for "Now thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices…" Certainly there was no time to get together with family and friends, to bow our heads and thank God for his goodness, to eat a marvelous meal together, to visit and play together, and to consider how to be generous with those in need. There was no time to go to a church for worship with people from many congregations, and make this the highlight of the day.

No, but there was time to go shopping! Why should we be surprised? After all, long ago, Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon [money]." Mammon won.

Charles Lamb

Youngstown

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No reason to criticize? Black Friday shoppers

I disagree with those who look down upon the eager Black Friday shoppers. Those noble souls who crash the barriers in the predawn dark of a November morning to win the prizes and consolations of manufacturers' and importers' most concentrated efforts are a genus of American unknown in other latitudes. They crave the competition, the surge of mass energy, the business-like ambition, which is itself the distillation of eons of evolution. What distinguishes this generations-old tradition from the Calgary Stampede? The Tour de France? The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona? Gender? Age?

C'mon! This is America. Where grannies can outshop the average pipsqueak in a nanosecond. Be proud of us. All of us. The shoppers. The merchants. The guys in the red suits with the kettles and the bells. Christmas shopping is at least as worthy an occupation as trick-or-treating. In fact, it may be a genetic consequence. Live and let live, say I.

Anne Costello

Buffalo

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Removing signs violates ?freedom of expression

In the last election cycle, I replaced five political voting signs. One was torn up and left on my lawn and the other four were removed from along the road. The signs were for President Obama.

This intentional destruction and removal of political signs is nothing new, I am sure, but it is new to me in East Aurora. Someone could have easily put a sign up for Mitt Romney next to the Obama sign on the road – that is what American politics is all about. Coming into my yard is really pushing the legal limit.

Whether this person was a political prankster or a coward under cover of the night, perhaps he or she should reread the U.S. Constitution, particularly our First Amendment on our individual rights of free political expression. Regardless of the outcome of the election, I find this negative, destructive political behavior disturbing.

Linda Ulrich-Hagner

East Aurora

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Americans are entitled? to diversity of thought

In regard to the controversy of Joseph Shimburski in the Town of Aurora and his anti-Obama sign, I don't understand why supporters of President Obama are so intolerant of free speech. I grew up in Communist China, where we did not have the option of talking freely about our leaders. It is the reason I came to America.

I see people like Paul Bradford as typical of tyrants who feel they should have the right to suppress free speech. He is the problem, not Shimburski. Liberals often talk about diversity, but they allow no diversity of thought. Maybe Bradford should read the Bill of Rights again.

Jinna Beauchemin

East Aurora

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Trico building is? part of our history

After reading the recent editorial, "Preserving an icon," I felt compelled to write. I, too, agree that the Trico building in the Buffalo Medical Corridor should not be demolished. It makes me smile.
You may ask: Why? My mother worked at Plant 1 for many years. Working in a factory was hard work, though my mother never complained. She told me about John R. Oishei attending Mass at St. Louis Church on Main Street every day. He'd always have a positive greeting to his employees in the morning when he'd walk through the plant. She fondly remembers this still today.

Oishei's generosity helped hundreds attend college. Scholarships were made available to employees' offspring. I was lucky enough to be a recipient. I am truly grateful. Seeing the Trico plants in Buffalo, I am reminded about days gone by when my mother labored there. Hopefully, many years from now when I am gone, people will ask about Buffalo's history and that Trico building.

What impact did the company have on Buffalo's history? You'll be able to show them – gone but not forgotten. An empty parking lot doesn't speak and say what used to be there. This might be long overdue, but thank you, Mr. Oishei, and thank you, Mom.

Elaine Sztukowski Muchowski

Orchard Park

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Preservationists need ?to let go of the past

The Trico building, the Bethlehem Steel building, old grain elevators and the list goes on and on. These save-the-antique activists are holding back Buffalo's future and keeping this city in a time warp. It's time they get a life and move on with their lives.

John Jendrysek

Orchard Park

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What is best for kids ?is no longer a priority

I'm watching with alarm the reports of school districts going bankrupt in the near future. Reductions in state funding over the years have led to greater reliance on local property tax funding. The pressure this put on local taxpayers was such that, instead of rolling back mandates to help schools reduce costs, our legislators voted in a 2 percent tax levy cap.

We're living under understandable financial restrictions, but there are no restrictions to the expectations placed on schools for greater accountability and higher achievement.

The goals are laudable, but the path to get there seems to be just one test after another, while the teachers and support systems that help kids learn get cut in budget after budget.

In reality, there is not one group that can fix this situation. It will take all groups, and all systems, and all of us to make changes. The truth is that "what is best for our kids" is the last thing being considered, and it is exactly where the discussion should start.

This is something educators, legislators and taxpayers need to consider before further damage is done.

Debra A. Ritz

North Collins