{"DS | Head | Brief"/}Cigarette tax would hurt poor most

{"DS | Body text | ragged"/}With the eyes of the world upon him, our beloved president is still sneaking out to the Rose Garden now and then for a cigarette. That's how hard it is for some of us to quit. One can also assume that Mr. Obama isn't feeling the 62-cent-per-pack tax that he so benevolently saw fit to institute immediately after taking office.

Now our leaders in Albany are talking about an additional $1-a-pack tax. They say it is to "motivate" New Yorkers to smoke less. Maybe at their income level it's motivation, but at mine it's coercion. And that's the point. The issue isn't whether I should smoke. The issue is whether government, in the name of guidance, can be permitted to make certain things unaffordable for all but the well-to-do. The assumption here being that the less affluent you are the more guidance you need.

Shouldn't that constitute an insult to a significant sector of the populace?

If you think that this precedent will not affect you, consider the "sugar" tax that was floated this year to "help Americans lose weight." Maybe it wasn't passed yet, but, believe me, they'll be back with it.

And you might also look around and see if there's anything else you enjoy doing that might be unhealthy for you; and which some legislator, to save you from yourself, could get into his or her head to tax and tax until you're forced to cease and desist for the general well-being. Or, at least, their idea of the general well-being.

Please tell your representatives to vote against this new cigarette tax. Tell them to find a less class-dependent way of getting people to live the perfect lives that they, in their enviable wisdom, envision for all of us.

{"DS | Letters name/town"/}Lou Picullo


{"DS | Head | Brief"/}Arcuri is the true centrist candidate

{"DS | Body text | ragged"/}Congressman Mike Arcuri's opponent tries to paint himself as the "independent" candidate and Arcuri as a partisan, left-wing liberal. Nothing could be further from the truth. Arcuri, often to the dismay of his party leadership, votes his own way, with the best interests of his constituents in mind and without regard for partisan politics or political ideology.

In February, the National Journal, a nonpartisan, inside-the-beltway news service, ranked Mike as one of the two most centrist legislators in the House of Representatives. Based on his voting record on economic, foreign policy and social issues, Arcuri voted "liberal" 50.2 percent of the time and "conservative" 49.8 percent of the time.

So, if you want a conservative or liberal ideologue to represent you in Congress, then Arcuri is not for you. But, if you want someone whose voting record proves that he thinks for himself and is in touch with the majority of voters in the 24th Congressional District, then Arcuri deserves your ongoing support.

{"DS | Letters name/town"/}Ed Lentz

New Lisbon

{"DS | Tag/ed note"/}Lentz is chair of Otsego County Democratic Committee.

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