Letters-Feb. 23, 2006

Remember work

of Dr. Charles Drew
To the editor:
   As we celebrate Black History Month and the significant contributions of African Americans to our country’s history, New Jersey Blood Services would like to highlight the lifesaving work of Dr. Charles Drew.
   Beginning in 1940, Dr. Drew made important contributions to the science of blood and blood banking through his research and documentation of a technique for long-term preservation of blood plasma. His efforts revolutionized the medical profession and created the world’s first blood bank.
   Patients in New Jersey hospitals must rely on volunteer blood donors for an adequate blood supply. In particular, African-American blood donors are critically needed to meet the medical needs of state residents with sickle cell disease, a hereditary disease that mainly affects individuals of African descent.
   Approximately 80,000 Americans have SCD with more than 2.5 million generally healthy citizens having the sickle cell trait in their blood and having the potential to pass the trait or disease on to their offspring.
   Patients with SCD often require frequent blood transfusions to treat this life-threatening disease. After multiple transfusions, SCD patients can develop immunity to different kinds of blood "antigens" (proteins in blood) and must then receive rare "compatible" blood transfusions. Such blood is most likely to come from donors of the same ethnic or racial group.
   To address this need, New Jersey Blood Services has an initiative called "Precise Match." This program’s goal is to ensure our increasingly diverse patient population has ready access to precisely matched blood to include patients with SCD who may require many blood transfusions to combat the disease.
   The necessity of receiving compatible blood for SCD patients heightens the imperative for African Americans to become regular blood donors.
   NJBS is thankful for the pioneering work of Dr. Charles Drew. In his memory NJBS encourages all eligible New Jersey residents — including African-Americans — to donate blood on a regular basis.
   To help residents with sickle cell anemia, we seek African-American donors and organizations interested in holding blood drives to call (732) 220-7101.
   To donate blood, visit www.nybloodcenter.org. Be a lifesaver!

Maggie O’Shea
executive director
New Jersey Blood Services
New Brunswick

Patient grateful

for kindness
To the editor:
   I wish to thank all my family and friends for their prayers, phone calls, gifts, food, cards, flowers and many acts of kindness while recovering from my recent surgery.

Emily Venettone

See vacuum,

then fill it
To the editor:
   What, exactly, is the Future Business Leaders of America all about?
   Julie Burd and Alex Baran say it is an organization that teaches business and leadership skills by promoting competition, fundraising and community service activities.
   I have a few questions.
   First, what are you competing for and against whom? What is the prize?
   Perhaps you learn how to beat Diteck’s low-interest rates, save more money on car insurance by not switching to Geico or win the onion-ring toss.
   Second, what benefit do you get by raising funds for an organization that exists for its own self propagation? What will the FBLA do for you when you are 30 years old, and things did not work out the way you planned? Of course, you can always pat yourselves on the back for being the biggest fundraisers of all time.
   Third, I know of no one who praises the services of the FBLA because it seems that no one knows what services have been rendered.
   Fourth, your energies are misplaced. By supporting the FBLA, you are diverting your attention from what really counts: your goals.
   Labor unions employ this same strategy. If winning elections thrills you, the State Leadership Conference can help you become a political hack.
   The way to success is to see a vacuum and fill it. Build a better mouse trap, cheaper than anyone else.
   If you set high standards for yourselves, everyone else will run out of gas trying to keep up. Be innovative. Do not talk to failures because misery loves company. Make sure one of your goals is to become rich because mediocrity does not create jobs, wealth or benefit the overall economy.
   The most successful people are not all rich, but are satisfied having spent their energies pursuing an ideal instead of writing letters to the editor begging for money.

Keith Kraemer

Mothers should

stay at home
To the editor:
   The great American lie has deceived many women these past four decades.
   That lie is a woman can "have it all." She can be a wife, mother and career woman at the same time and do it all successfully.
   This lie actually began seeping into the national consciousness in the early 1960s when feminists told women being "just a wife, mother and homemaker" was unfulfilling and insignificant. The way to find true identity and fulfillment, they said, was to have a career outside the home.
   Incredibly, many women believed this lie, and by the 1970s and 1980s, day care centers had become one of the established answers to the question, "Then what do I do with my children?"
   As moms left home to join the work force, babies and preschoolers got dropped off early in the morning and picked up late in the afternoon.
   Research has since shown children put in day care before they are 12 months old are more physically and verbally abusive, less cooperative with adults and less tolerant of frustration than peers with no day care experience. They are also sick a lot more often.
   After-school care and the TV home-babysitter rose up to answer the question, "What do I do with my children after school?"
   Kids experienced either very long days at school or very lonely, unsupervised afternoons at home.
   In her classic book, "Home By Choice," Dr. Brenda Hunter observes a new trend beginning in the mid-90s and continuing today where young mothers are returning home. Recognizing a woman’s life as one of seasons, Dr. Hunter refers to the child-bearing and raising years as "the summer season of her life" and possibly the happiest.
   She looks to the 40s as the season for career, if desired, though she does recognize the need for single mothers to work. Even then, she advocates part-time work or work from the home whenever possible, because "that’s where the kids are." This also works best for married mothers, she says.
   Dr. Hunter shares from her own experience that some women find it very difficult to be home because they didn’t have nurturing mothers and don’t have a secure sense of identity. Instead of fleeing to career for identity, she recommends they seek help to make up for this loss so they can give their own children something better. She wishes she had.
   Though sacrifice isn’t a popular word these days when the average American family has a credit card debt of at least $9,000, giving up a large home, second car, vacations, meals and entertainment are investments that yield positive dividends in the marriage and in the lives of the children.
   They are investments parents lovingly, unselfishly and routinely made before the 1960s. Children’s, not parents’, welfare came first.
   A sense of guilt goes with the territory in the two-career family. This is why it is such a volatile subject.
   There is also a sense of loss. Full-time working mothers miss so much; often the first step and the first word; also the natural bonding because babies and young children bond to their primary caregiver, whoever that is.
   Children are only little once, and many mothers realize too late what has been lost never to be recaptured.
   As a mother who put her newspaper career on hold when our son was born, I strongly encourage young mothers to figure out a way to stay home with their babies and toddlers.
   As the children begin to grow, part-time work at home or out can be an option as long as the mother’s best time and energy is still spent at home with her family rather than at the workplace. Fathers and grandparents can provide strong support systems.
   Most mothers desire to spend more time with their children. If they make the decision to stay home now, at least they won’t be stigmatized as they were in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s before women woke up, and the current "movement toward home" began.

Joan Harrison
Delaware Township

Why weren’t

break-ins reported?
To the editor:
   I am disturbed that my local paper, the Lambertville Beacon, is not covering important news.
   In recent weeks, I have come to learn that several homes in Lambertville have been broken into, and a person in one of those homes was assaulted by the intruder.
   I came by this information by concerned friends forwarding news articles to me from other newspapers.
   It leads one to wonder what other news is not being reported by The Beacon and whether subscribing to The Beacon for local news makes any sense.

John Whitsett

Bridge closing didn’t

shut all businesses
To the editor:
   After reading last week’s article regarding the Stockton bridge closing and remembering the front page article you published a few months ago, I felt compelled to write this letter out of respect for my parents, family and Donald "Ducky" Mathews.
   Both articles contained some inaccurate information. The headline in the previous article quotes a current gas station owner that 10 people (businesses) went under, and that’s how he bought his business.
   Further in the article, this same young man stated the 1990 bridge closing was the reason the grocery store went "under."
   Since I realize others, including your reporter, believe some of that hearsay to be fact, I felt obligated to clarify some of the misconceptions.
   In 1990, 10 businesses did not go under. If that were true, the commerce in Stockton would have shut down. Several business owners who were in operation then and still are today are also perplexed by that statement. A few businesses may have changed hands over the years, but 10 didn’t close due to the bridge.
   The article also states Errico’s — my family’s business — closed and never recovered. In 1992, two years after the bridge closed, the business was sold and remained a grocery store for another five years.
   While the bridge closing did have an impact on our grocery business, we had to deal with another obstacle that was permanent. The larger supermarkets opened in Pennsylvania and the surrounding area, and as a small store, we could not compete with the big chains.
   I can’t say why the new owners closed after five years, but I doubt that is was because the bridge closed seven years earlier.
   Last week’s article states that after the 1990 closing, a Bridge Street station owner "sold out" as he lost customers to the detour. The previous article quotes the current station owner saying " that’s how he got his business."
   Both statements are inaccurate. Donald "Ducky" Mathews, who operated the gas station at the time, did not "sell out" because he lost customers to the detour. While he, too, suffered loss of business during the closing, he never sold out. He stayed several more years until he decided to retire in his golden years — a well-deserved retirement after operating a successful business for decades.
   As owners of the property when "Ducky" retired, my husband took a leave of absence from his job to keep the station open. Neither of us had the desire to run the business ourselves so we decided to sell in 1996 — not because of the bridge closing six years earlier, but because we didn’t want to own or operate a gas station.
   I’m certainly not trying to make light of the impact the future closing will have on all of the businesses in Stockton. We are all very concerned and with good reason. The closing will hurt all of us.
   Hopefully, with community support, and if history does repeat itself, we will all survive again!

Marie Errico Esposito

AMT to phase

out deductions
To the editor:
   I’m not sure if most people know about this yet, although I have read a little about it and saw the issue highlighted on at least one news hour television show — the Alternate Minimum Tax.
   I am not an accountant, but my understanding is many of the deductions the middle class currently depends on will be quietly and unceremoniously phased out in favor of the higher AMT.
   It is also my understanding the beginning of the AMT was an action that would ensure the richest portion of the population would be paying their fair share of taxes by eliminating certain deductions once their income levels exceeds a certain threshold. This threshold has not been adjusted since the inception of the AMT and is currently going to affect families that earn only $40,250 to $33,750 for single or head of household and from $58,000 and $45,000 for married filing jointly and surviving spouses.
   With the high cost of living in New Jersey, this will affect a great number of families who are already struggling.
   According to SmartMoney.com — www.smartmoney.com/tax/filing/index.cfm?story=amt — you will be required to fill out an additional form 6251.
   Some of the highlights of the AMT in the SmartMoney article include:
   • Eliminate personal and dependent-exemption deductions — $3,200 each in 2005 and $3,300 each in 2006.
   • Eliminate standard deduction if you don’t itemize — $10,000 for joint filers in 2005 and $10,300 for joint filers in 2006; $5,000 for singles in 2005 and $5,150 for singles in 2006.
   • Eliminate state, local and foreign income and property tax write-offs.
   • Eliminate your home-equity loan interest if the loan proceeds are not used for home improvements.
   • Eliminate some medical and dental expenses.
   • Pay taxes on the "spread" between the market price and the exercise price of incentive stock options granted by your employer.
   There is an additional complexity to the AMT — as if it were not complicated enough to compute two sets of income tax returns — you will also need to determine if you qualify for an AMT credit the following year after you pay the additional AMT. To me, sounds like the sugar coating used to make this new tax more palatable. It still does not alleviate the fact the AMT thresholds are NOT adjusted for inflation nor does it take into account the cost of living nor any cost of living increases.
   That is why I’m asking my Congressman, Rush Holt, what he can do to protect his constituency from being further overburdened with high taxes that were not even originally targeted to them. I ask the threshold amounts be permanently raised to a higher threshold, and these thresholds be continually adjusted for inflation.
   As this is a federal tax, I would also like to know how to better balance the threshold to protect the citizens of New Jersey from being specifically overburdened since we live in such a high cost of living state.

Donna Herman


drivers in city
To the editor:
   Presidents Day, venturing out, I see the same stupid, self-centered driving in town.
   This time, a man from Pennsylvania thought his dirty laundry was more important than a woman walking across the street.
   Wanting to turn right at Main Street from Bridge Street, I gave the woman her right of way. He nearly turned into her, turning left in front of me, I suspect he never saw her in his rush.
   He pulled into one of the dry cleaners in town. I almost followed him to remind him he shares the road.
   I have long felt Lambertville needs to reduce the speed limit for most streets, if nothing else, for pedestrian and children’s safety, but this will not protect people walking with the light.
   This is not an isolated incident. I feel aggressive and rude driving is at an epidemic level.
   It could be the time of year; people are excessively grumpy in February. It could also be people aren’t paying attention.
   Have motorists have stopped caring about speed limits, courteous driving and the law? I have had too many people driving a foot from my car on Route 518.
   I do the speed limit, but it is not fast enough for some extremely stupid and mean people.
   Looking at the New Jersey Web site, which addresses aggressive driving, they recommend pulling over when being tailgated and hassled. When there is no safe place to pull over — what to do?
   So to the bone-headed man with the dirty laundry, your behavior stinks. To the people who love to tailgate, I will be the person waving with a friendly hand and slowing down to avoid hitting that elusive deer and getting rear ended by your car in the bargain.
   And my spouse wants me to add, stop honking at the poor crossing guard at Lambertville Public School. It is stupid, and we will just move slower.

Marcia Tucker