Letters to the Editor for Nov. 10
Old aren’t getting richer but are barely holding their own
The Nov. 7 AP article, “Old get richer, young get poorer,” could have had a misleading headline.
There is a danger that readers might conclude that benefits received by the elderly need to be cut back to support the young. A more accurate headline would have been, “Old tread water, young get drowned.”
The article reports that the wealth gap between the young and old has become very great indeed. But most of the gap has been generated by the adverse environment affecting the young. Many factors have dramatically reduced the wealth of the young over a the last 30 years: unemployment, loss of social safety nets, student aid debt, credit card debtand the housing market crash, to name a few.
When the old were young, they were able to build up their nest eggs because public education was inexpensive; living wage jobs were abundant; and the banking industry was highly regulated. In addition, most employers provided some kind of pension and medical coverage, and paid their fair share of taxes. In each of these areas, the young have lost ground relative to the old.
Meanwhile, the old today are treading water with the exception of the valuation of homes that were purchased long before the housing market crash. The article states “Social Security accounts for 55 percent of the annual income for older-age households, unchanged since 1984.” Moreover, the remaining 45 percent of their household income, in real terms, has also remained unchanged since 1984.
In our society, the growing gap of wealth and income resides between the upper 1 percent and the bottom 99 percent. Most of the increase in national wealth and income over the past 30 years has gone to the upper 1 percent of the population. The implication of this data is that the young are in need of a much more favorable economic environment, at least as favorable as that of their elders. Such an environment would include realistic living-wage job opportunities with benefits, lower college tuition, subsidized housing and national health care.
In short, the wealthiest of all age groups should be called upon to provide support for the young, comparable to that provided the old.
The writer is professor emeritus of economics at Siena College.
Consider the sources of Democratic donations
One thing blatantly missing from a Nov. 1 article by Michael Lamendola, “Officials say Solar System could save county $20K yearly,” was the fact that Monolith Solar Associates, the group that will install the systems, very recently donated money to the Schenectady Democratic Committee.
In fact, since Oct. 3, a whopping $88,000 has been donated to the Democratic Party, over $57,000 of which came from individuals, construction companies and engineering firms that have done work for the county and law firms that have represented the city.
For example, Angerame Architects, which did the site drawings for the Glendale Home, donated $2,000. Highbridge Development, a construction company that worked on a building project for Schenectady Metroplex Authority, donated $5,000. Hiscock and Barclay, a law firm for which Schenectady city Judge Mark Blanchfield previously worked and which has represented the city, donated $5,500. The list goes on.
An online blog in the Times Union alluded to the idea that Schenectady County, controlled by Democratic legislators, has a “pay to play atmosphere.” I couldn’t agree more.
Comprehensive plan didn’t need an overhaul
I’m compelled to respond to the barrage of misinformation showered on Princetown residents regarding the town’s comprehensive plan.
Once again it’s been stated that the proposed plan touted by former Comprehensive Plan Committee Chairman Joe Jurczynski is, per his quote “only a guideline for the Town Board...” Really? He stated in a Gazette letter Oct. 9 [“Princetown’s Three run roughshod over citizens”] that he was upset his plan was rejected “because it imposed too much regulation on the citizens of Princetown (rather than the developers, as was intended)”. So which is it? A document not to be concerned about, or one not restrictive enough on the citizens?
As chairman, he led the committee on what has now stretched into a five-year odyssey that completely ignored the current plan that adequately served the town’s need for 20 years, caused a very respected and experienced member to resign, and instead of using the resources and experience of the Schenectady County Planning Department (as the original plan committee used in 1988, at no charge to the town), hired a paid consultant costing the town $18,380.
The process of revising the existing plan likely could have been completed in six to eight months. It only needed changes reflecting the water districts and other small updates to reflect the current conditions. The Town Board at that time (2005) asked only to revise the current plan. Instead, a completely new document was developed — from only 24 percent citizen input; whose cost was fiscally irresponsible. It was full of personal agenda, overzealous, indefensible development restrictions, and injected government into private land-use decisions. And now, based on the committee’s own recommendation to review the plan every five years, it is due to be reviewed again!
Jurczynski’s own words and actions reveal the true story: more government intervention, resource mismanagement, fiscal irresponsibility.
Princetown deserves a common sense plan that respects landowners’ rights, looks objectively at development and provides for the health and safety of its citizens. Nothing more, nothing less.
The writer is a former member of the 1988 and 2007 Comprehensive Plan Committees and former town supervisor.
Educate under-educated so they’ll stop smoking
Tobacco use rates in New York have dropped to an all-time low of approximately 16 percent for adults and 12.6 percent for high school students.
But for people who earn less than $25,000, or have less than a high school diploma, or are not employed, the rate remains unchanged at 22.1 percent to 24.7 percent.
Over the past three years, funding for the tobacco control program has been cut in half. This year, only about two pennies of every dollar raised by tobacco taxes goes to help people quit smoking.
Sixty-nine people die every day in New York state from smoking, and 25,000 will die this year. Strategies need to be developed for reaching hard-to-reach populations. Adequate funding is needed. If the problem is not addressed now, the burden of tobacco use will increasingly fall on those least able to absorb it.
The writer is director for the Center for Smoking Cessation at Seton Health.
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