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Church and state, school closings, Bush-speak

Reader feedback 2.16.05 


As a pastor of a city church, it was certainly a surprise to learn that MonroeCounty has established an office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives ("Leap of Faith," February 2). One would have thought that the county executive would have consulted the faith community before establishing the office, and at the very least informed them of its existence. Or is this another initiative meant only for insiders?

            More surprising was to read Luis Perez's rather strange take on history. The US Constitution says that it is the responsibility of the government to promote the general welfare of the people. Churches in the US have never been the primary providers of social welfare, partly for the following reason: Why should the minority take the burden of responsibility off the majority population to promote the common good? More important, churches simply do not have the resources.

            For churches to take government funds to administer their programs for them and then suggest that they are fulfilling the gospel demand to care for the poor and oppressed is at best a disingenuous proposition.

            My congregation takes seriously our commission to help those in need, and we are active in doing that through interfaith coalitions. But that is hardly the solution to the larger problems of poverty and unemployment and unaffordable health care that plague not only Rochester, but the nation.

            Rather than participating in the government's efforts, which offer neither adequate charity nor long-term solutions, the church will better serve the people by demanding that the government fulfill its obligations to all of its people.

            The Rev. Dr. Eugene Roberts, Brighton Reformed Church, Blossom Road, Rochester


Regarding Mary Anna Towler's fine article "Don't Close My School" (February 9): I question the School and Community Advisory Committee's initial assumption that programs, teachers, students, and support staff can be relocated without detrimental effects. While this was a convenient assumption for the committee's process, the notion that effective programs can be successfully re-established in new locations seems speculative at best.

            Successful urban schools are fragile formations, where teachers, students, and parents combine with their neighborhood and facilities to create a nurturing learning environment. Given the relatively few examples of high-achieving schools in Rochester, I am incredulous that the CitySchool District would even consider closing any buildings where high standards are currently being met. Closing schools that are struggling academically, while hard on their families and neighborhoods, at least allows for a reformulation that may achieve better results. Closing schools that are performing well does not make sense, especially given how elusive success has been for the District.

            Homebuyers do not want uncertainty regarding their local schools, so there is little doubt that the preliminary list of potential school closings has already suppressed important portions of the city real estate market. My fear is that when the dust settles, there will be even fewer high-performing schools in the city and that even more committed parents will have gone private or gone elsewhere, leaving the district worse off. This is an outcome that none of us can afford.

            Lawrence Jones, Spruce Avenue, Rochester


President Bush says Social Security is headed for a crisis. Fascinating that on page 229 of the 2004 Economic Report of the President, Bush endorsed exporting US jobs to cheap labor markets abroad. He also signed into law, on October 22, the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004, a cleverly disguised tax break for corporations to engage in offshore outsourcing.

            These WMDs (Weapons of Mass Deceptions) generate less tax revenue, rather than more, to finance such things as Social Security. If the jobs cannot be exported, there's another way: Promote W's Amnesty/Guest Worker program with Mexico. Willing employers would be matched with illegal aliens, resulting in a backdoor depression of wage scales. Reduced wages mean reduced taxable revenue.

            No wonder Social Security is being Enroned. Or is it Global Double-Crossing[ed]? If President Bush and his supporters in Congress believe in reforming Social Security, they should begin with their own Golden Parachutes.

            Steve Barnhoorn, Honeoye


In his State of the Union address, George W. Bush stated: "My budget substantially reduces or eliminates more than 150 government programs that are not getting results, or duplicate current efforts, or do not fulfill essential priorities. The principle here is clear: a taxpayer dollar must be spent wisely, or not at all."

            I wholeheartedly agree, and I will suggest a "program" not getting results that deserves to be shut down immediately:

            On September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden and his followers attacked America. The Bush administration vowed to get bin Laden, and I do not know of anyone who was against that plan.

            However, that plan was set aside to pursue weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In another State of the Union address, Bush told America of the imminent danger the world faced from the arsenal of illegal weapons Saddam Hussein possessed. The case for invading and disarming Iraq was made, and the president went ahead with his plans.

            Now, years have passed and the two main objectives of the war on terrorism have not been achieved: finding bin Laden and finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bush's efforts are not producing results. Bush has failed.

            Thomas R. Janowski, Hazelhurst Drive, Gates


Every day I hear or read something about the "war on terrorism" or "war on terror." Occasionally someone points out that terrorism and terror are modes of human behavior, tactics used by some people. Can there be a war on human behavior? When will this war end?

            Not only is "war on terror" an inaccurate use of language, but this terminology is used to decide the policies of our country and the budgets to be devoted to them. And the terminology may be counter-productive.

            We are repeatedly told that the people who perpetrate terror are evil and that they hate freedom. People are not born terrorists; something happens to them that makes them willing to destroy others and themselves.

            When we focus on the "war on terror," we do not consider what makes people behave this way, or ask what the root causes of terrorism might be. When we do not know what causes a problem, we end up treating only the symptoms. When we know something about the causes of a problem and only attack the symptoms, we do not eliminate it, and we may make the problem worse.

            This observation does not make me "anti war" or "soft on terrorism." Call me "pro life," if you like, as I am strongly against people killing each other. And yes, I would like to prevent wars. We can do this, I believe, by addressing their underlying causes.

            MirekPiskacek, Beverly Street, Rochester


We welcome and encourage readers' letters for publication. Send them to: or The Mail, City Newspaper, 250 North Goodman Street, Rochester14607.

            Our guidelines: We don't publish anonymous letters --- and we ask that you include your street name and city/town/village. We don't publish letters that have been sent to other media --- and we don't publish form letters generated by activist groups. While we don't restrict length, letters of under 350 words have a greater chance of being published. We do edit letters for clarity and brevity. And in general we don't publish letters (or longer "op-ed" pieces) from the same writer more often than about once every two months.

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