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Bounty appreciates help from First Niagara

April 6

To the Editor:
We’d like to extend our thanks publicly to First Niagara Bank for its donation to Columbia County Bounty of a computer.
     As a new and growing organization, we have very limited resources for such equipment and so such in-kind support is important to us.
We are dedicated to creating links between local farmers with product to sell and local culinary businesses who want to serve locally grown and  raised foods. We invite residents and visitors to join us by going to
     Before Linda Fix of First Niagara came forward with the offer of a computer, we had to rely on the equipment of our volunteers.
     Thanks, Linda. Much appreciated.

Vicki Simons
Executive director
Columbia County Bounty
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Socialism and fascism differ, reader responds

April 3

To the Editor:
This is in response to a letter on your website from John Wallace entitled Is America on the Road to Fascism? 

      He ends his comments with, “Welcome to the United Socialist States of America! If we continue on President Obama’s road to CHANGE (socialism), the American people will no longer be free.The question is: Will we learn to accept our captivity at the hands of our new masters or will we be willing to do something about it?” 

     Mr. Wallace is extreme in his comments, to say the least. He warns us that our government’s attempt to help prevent the demise of General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation with the injection of billions of dollars to delay or prevent their need to declare bankruptcy is a socialist approach to the situation which historically evolves into fascism. He strongly objects to reported pressure by our government to have GM’s CEO resign. He seems to feel that this is a socialist/fascist approach. By the way, in capitalism, he who takes a financial position in a corporation has the right to influence the corporation, commensurate with the magnitude of his capital injection. We the people have made a rather substantial capital investment in GM and Chrysler. The president, as our highest elected official and the person who gave the final okay to make this investment, is the one who assumes the responsibility for the decision. If he’s wrong, Mr. Wallace and all of us will have our opportunity to make our decision at the next presidential election in 2012 and even prior to that at the next congressional election in 2010.

     He points to what happened in Italy under Mussolini and Germany under Hitler and implies this is what may be developing in the US. For the record, both of these dictators never permitted a national election once they gained power. Does Mr. Wallace seriously think there is any possibility that we won’t have a presidential election in 2012 and if we do, that there will only be a single party on the ballot? 

Socialism is not fascism. Socialism is a form of economic activity. Fascism is a form of government activity.  Denmark, Norway and Sweden as well as all western democracies, including Canada and yes, the United States, have aspects of socialism in their economic activities. Would Mr. Wallace suggest we abolish our aspects of socialism such as unemployment insurance and social security? These were both attacked as socialist before they became the law and even after by some. 

     In truth, the strongest democratic society is a balance between the best aspects of capitalism and socialism. Our society is now beginning a serious debate as to whether we’d be better off with a single payer medical system (socialism), or continue on our current method of providing medical care (capitalism).  Neither is perfect. The question is which will provide the greater good for the greater number. 

     Whether we should let GM and Chrysler declare bankruptcy and have the courts take their course in the restructuring process, or inject capital into these two companies, attempting to let them avoid bankruptcy, is a valid question. I have my concerns with either path. However, to suggest that our government’s pressure to have GM replace its CEO is possibly a forerunner to our evolution into a fascist state is absurd and way over the top as to what is possible.

                                                                                                                           Lawrence Salzman

                                                                                                                               East Chatham

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 Reader asks: Is America on the Road to Fascism?

April 1

To The Editor:
Mr. G. Richard Wagoner, the chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors, was recently forced to resign his position because of pressure from the Obama administration. He was told that if he didn’t leave, the Obama administration would not give General Motors any more federal bailout money. President Obama also told General Motors and the Chrysler Corporation that if they wanted more federal bailout money, they would have to shrink and refocus their businesses according to his (the federal government’s) wishes.
     In our country’s history, there have been some limited instances of the federal government exercising some sort of control over private industry, but that was during wartime. The current assault on American capitalism by the Obama administration is unprecedented in both its scope and speed and should raise the red flag of alarm for all freedom-loving Americans.
     World history has shown us that the implementation of strict government controls over private industries has been one of the first steps in the introduction of various forms of Fascism to formerly free countries. The practice of a government taking control of private industries was refined by Benito Mussolini in Italy in the 1920’s and it is called ‘corporatism.’
     According to Wikipedia, political scientists use the term ‘corporatism’ to describe “a practice whereby a state, through the process of licensing and regulating officially-incorporated social, religious, economic, or popular organizations, effectively co-opts their leadership or circumscribes their ability to challenge state authority by establishing the state as the source of their legitimacy, as well as sometimes running them, either directly or indirectly.” Mussolini described it more simply when he said, “Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”
     Some corporatist-style regimes of the 20th century included those of Benito Mussolini of Italy (1922-1945), Adolph Hitler of Germany (1933 to 1945); Francisco Franco of Spain (1936 to 1973); Juan Peron of Argentina (1943 to 1955) and even our own President Franklin Roosevelt (1933 to 1945) during the ‘New Deal.’ The Mussolini, Hitler, Franco and Peron regimes were brutal, totalitarian, Fascist dictatorships, but not all the regimes that had a corporatist foundation were fascist. The Roosevelt administration, despite its many faults, could not be described as fascist, but the ‘New Deal’ program was definitely corporatist.
     Corporatism boils down to this: The government tells industry (and eventually labor unions) what to do and that they must do it for the supposed good of the country, or else their individual leaders will pay a price. Does this sound similar to what is happening to the auto industry today?
     Where in the U.S. Constitution does it authorize the President of the United States to fire the head of a major private corporation just because he disagrees with his management policies? Where in the U.S. Constitution does it authorize the President of the United States to decide what kind of cars a private company will build? or what kind of car I will drive? President Barack ‘Mussolini’ Obama is taking this country down a very dangerous road and a road that America has never taken before.
     Confucius said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Are the ‘corporatist’ policies of President Obama and his administration just the first steps of many in a move towards a government takeover of our major industries? Are these policies much different than those that Mussolini and Hitler initiated in the early stages of their rise to power?
     With the Politburo in our expanding federal government now having the power to hire and fire the leaders of major private corporations and to tell the auto makers what cars they can produce, will they soon be telling Americans what kind of cars they can drive; how much money they can earn; where they can go to school, what sodas they can drink, what foods they can’t eat, where they can travel, what national ID card they must carry at all times and it will impose any number of other restrictions on them. Look at California, where the state legislature is currently considering banning black cars by 2012, for some bogus global warming reason.
     Thomas Jefferson said: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is big enough to take away everything you have.” Americans must remember that we cannot fully enjoy our freedoms and liberties in America unless we keep our government limited. As our government grows and becomes more intrusive, as it is today, it is our freedoms and liberties that are becoming limited.
     Welcome to the United Socialist States of America!
     If we continue on President Obama’s road to CHANGE (socialism), the American people will no longer be free. The question is: “Will we learn to accept our captivity at the hands of our new masters or will we be willing to do something about it?”
John Wallace
Townline Motors banner



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Eminent domain should prevail, Copake resident says

March 26

To the Editor:
     Although I feel for the woman who owns the property at the intersection of mountain view road and cty 7a in Copake. this is the perils of living near a state or county road. the eminent domain rule has been in effect for thousands of years. this is how our world and society has evolved. although it is despised by some if not all, it is how we progress even in Copake. County 7A has been in need of an upgrade for many many years now, the upgrade being discussed now is be hide at least 2 years. the browns dam bridge just north west of the intersection of Mt. View rd. is less than half of the State DOT safety rating.
there has been thousands of accidents at this bridge over the years with its almost 90 degree turn and leading to the Mt. View road.This Bridge also carries School Busses loaded with children, dump trucks, fire trucks, ambulances, families in cars,etc: this bridge was plated with steel to cover holes in its deck , a band aid approach until it could be replaced.
     With limited sight due to trees when turning from Cty7a to Mt. View and icy conditions from the trees in the winter due to shading of the fur trees shading the roadway most of the day.
     7A is in need of a complete upgrade from State Rt. 23 south to Copake to the hamlet of Copake.

                                                                                                                            Rob Garon



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Columbia news reaches grateful Broome County reader

March 25

 To the Editor:

I’d just like to say “thanks!” for continuing the news from Columbia Co. Especially that calendar of events, which I didn’t see at first, but read today. We’re from Broome County – about 3 hrs away – but we camp at Taconic Park 4 weeks each year and like to know what’s going on. We’ve subscribed to the Independent for many years and really miss it. So online news is very welcome.

Mary Thompson

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Reader misses The Independent

 March 23

To the Editor:

Thank you so much for your “Columbia Paper” on line.  I really miss reading the Independent and am glad to see some of the news continue with your columns.

Keep up the good work!!!!
Madelyn Super


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Tree removal will hurt her property values

March 7

To the Editor:
On February 11 the Columbia County Board of Supervisors decided to pull my name (subject to further review) from a list of property owners against whom the county is initiating eminent domain proceedings for the proposed county bridge/highway rehabilitation project in Copake.  The issue, which deals with intersection sight distance and the purchase of a portion of my land to remove mature trees, was referred back to the county Public Works committee, and may come up again before the full board this Wednesday. The removal of these trees will drastically reduce the value and enjoyment of my personal property, and substantially alter the quality and character of my neighborhood for years to come. I want to be certain–for me, my neighbors and Columbia County taxpayers–that every possible alternative to the land purchase has been considered, fully explored, and excluded for sound reasons.
     I am not debating whether a “potential hazard” has been identified at the intersection of County Route 7A and Mt. View Road, but even in the county’s own assessment, it is negligible. When I first met with county engineer Dean Knox last August, he told me the county “would not be doing anything at all if 7A did not intersect with a busy town road.” He also stated the conditions at this intersection were not the impetus to seek federal funding for highway rehabilitation. Buying my property and cutting down trees was not considered until after the monies had been awarded.
    There are significant procedural issues in the manner in which the county is handling this matter as well. A comprehensive sight distance study includes: speed studies, crash analysis, citizen input, consultation with other agencies (i.e., town government), review with neighborhood associations and property owners, and a determination of alternatives.
    I have confirmed this week no such study exists. The fact Columbia County is trying to compel me to enter a negotiated agreement to sell my property or threaten me with eminent domain without a sight distance study raises serious ethical and legal concerns.
    Again, I am urging the Public Works committee to reevaluate this particular segment of the proposed highway rehabilitation project and recommend a speed limit reduction and/or installing stop signs. Either of these solutions is safe, reasonable and appropriate. And, unlike the county at this point, I can provide supporting documentation that this is so. Of the three options to mitigate the perceived line-of-sight problem, purchasing my property and cutting down trees is also the most costly–has the committee determined how much money this would require? With the current economic climate, no government agency should be spending needlessly. Proceeding with eminent domain and continuing with the plan of removing the trees is exorbitantly expensive when compared with the alternatives. It is not a suitable use of public funds.
    Using eminent domain and cutting down trees are not popular choices, either. Choosing the alternatives would also avoid the potential repercussions of removing full and mature trees in a county known for its natural beauty and bucolic scenery, and in which there is an ever-increasing environmental ethic among its citizens.

Susan Winchell-Sweeney

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