It might be better? to go off ‘fiscal cliff'

I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, just a concerned American. I have no idea why the Republicans believe they have some leverage when it comes to the debt ceiling, or why some Democrats also believe this.

After all, the 14th Amendment tells us that: "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned."

President Obama could actually issue an executive order raising the debt ceiling. Yet he has said that he will not use the 14th Amendment to do this. His reasoning escapes me. I believe that it may show gratuitous weakness among the Democrats, and perhaps open the door to possible cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. There have already been rumblings about increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.

Most recently, the president has offered to either cut altogether or alter the way in which Social Security COLAs are adjusted, probably using the chained consumer price index, or Chained CPI method. This is in exchange for the Republicans' willingness to raise taxes only on those making $400,000 or more per year. Has Obama forgotten his own much-trumpeted campaign pledge to increase taxes on those making $250,000 or more per year? Yes, whatever did happen to tax increases on the top 2 percent?

The Chained CPI calculus would cut annual benefits for an average worker who retires at age 65 by $650 at age 75, and $1,130 by age 85. Clearly, the chained CPI method is reckless. From this vantage point, it is far more practical to go over the "fiscal cliff."

Gene Grabiner



Let Newtown residents ?grieve tragedy privately

I am appalled at the amount of media coverage the Newtown school shooting is receiving. Shame on the reporters for interviewing children, who will be forever scarred by this event. The parents who allowed their children to be exploited in this way have failed to keep them safe. The constant replaying of each sound bite desensitizes this horrible tragedy for the public. To the media – stop right now. Allow the residents of Newtown to grieve privately. Show some consideration for their pain. Our society's "need to know now" does not have to be satisfied.

Jo Anne Yuhnke



Develop outer harbor, ?build stadium elsewhere

Big projects mean big contracts for building groups. When viewed this way, it would seem that supporting an outer harbor stadium would be a no-brainer for construction worker unions. However, it would be wise for unions to consider the long-term implications of an outer harbor stadium and not just focus on the short-term increase in construction jobs fueled by the project.

Ignoring the contentious economic development merits of football stadiums, wherever we decide to build a new stadium, it will be a huge project and increase the need for construction workers in the short term. In most cities, waterfront land is extremely valuable and attractive for development. This is equally true in Buffalo. Compared to other areas of Buffalo, the outer harbor needs the least support in becoming a viable, exciting, economic growth-generating hub. If construction worker unions are serious about the welfare of their members, they'll recognize that building an outer harbor stadium would be a misallocation of scarce redevelopment resources. Utilizing waterfront land for diverse, sustainable, long-term development projects would be much more effective than building a stadium.

By not building the stadium on the outer harbor, the harbor can leverage its natural assets for other purposes to help generate economic growth in Buffalo both in the short term and long term. This economic growth would presumably cause new construction benefiting current and future construction workers. Furthermore, the growth in construction employment that the stadium would cause could then occur in another part of the city as a component of revitalization projects in areas with fewer assets.

Daniel P. Pellegrino



Gillibrand fighting? to help dairy farmers

The first time that I met U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the flesh was something of a story. I wish I had the room here to tell it properly. But sitting down at the conference table with her, I'll never forget the first words out of her mouth after a polite greeting, in response to a complaint about milk prices: "Oh, $17 per hundredweight is absolutely screwing us." She then launched into a long and completely off-the-cuff speech that taught me more about dairy pricing than I'd ever known, even living my entire life in cow country.

She concluded by saying that we needed to reform dairy prices the next time the Farm Bill came up – in 2012.

That was almost four years ago. On Dec. 13, I read an article talking about her efforts to keep in the new Farm Bill an amendment to allow more flexibility in dairy prices so that dairy farms are profitable even in bad times. It reminded me of all the reasons I'm impressed by Gillibrand – not just her knowledge of issues important to her constituents, but her steadfast resolve to address them, no matter what or when, even years later.

Adama D. Brown



Show proper respect ?for our flag, anthem

At an early age, I was taught to respect our country's flag when it was presented, along with the singing of our national anthem. To this day, I consider it a privilege to show that I love this country that I have lived and worked in these many years. Both the military and uniformed civil servants, such as police and firemen, always salute the flag when presented with their right hand to the tip of the brim of their hat. We as civilians place our right hand over our left breast whenever the flag is presented and the anthem is sung. These simple motions have been long-standing traditions.

Now, however, it seems many either don't know what to do or maybe just do not care. Don't they teach that in school anymore? I have seen at least 50 percent just stand there when the national anthem is played. I would think that they would see others saluting with their hand over their left breast and do likewise. The least a person can do is honor this great country we live in. We see our service men coming home, some badly wounded who have given so much of themselves, and we should be proud of the symbolism of our country that the flag represents.

Another thing, what makes these pop singers think they have the talent or right to change the way "The Star-Spangled Banner" is written? It's not an easy song to sing, with its wide range. But until someone, someday changes it, that is the way it should be sung.

Dick Carlson