The article about Stuff N' Bagels warmed my stomach ["Keeping business fresh," Business, Sept. 2].

It's almost impossible on eastern Long Island to enjoy a hand-rolled, water-boiled Jewish bagel. It was heartening to know that they are still lovingly made in Oceanside.

As for the director of the Small Business Development Center at Farmingdale State College saying, "A bagel is a bagel," and that prices should be lowered, she doesn't know bubkes about soul food! That's like saying a croissant is a taco!

A warm, buttered, everything, water-boiled bagel is manna from heaven! Keep up your standards, Stuff N' Bagels! Now, if I could only find a decent bialy in Suffolk County.

Chuck Darling, South Setauket

Singled out over county benefit

The article "Levy to reap premium-free insurance" [News, Aug. 25] noted that upon my recent birthday I entered the Suffolk County retirement plan that provides free health insurance for all enrollees.

Newsday singled me out because I had called the present system unsustainable. While the article mentioned that I tried to require reasonable contributions from all, it didn't say that I voluntarily gave back $86,000 of my salary as Suffolk County executive from 2004 to 2011 -- probably more than any official in county history -- to lead by example. That amounted to 40 years of health care contributions.

It's ironic that an advocate of reform suggesting a reasonable contribution by every enrollee is singled out, while those who voted to maintain the unsustainable status quo aren't mentioned at all.

Hopefully, officials and enrollees will heed my advice that a small contribution today will not only avoid the oncoming taxpayer backlash, but also help to ensure that these benefits are here for them decades down the road. Greece and the city of Detroit are discovering what government bankruptcies do to both the taxpayers and those who thought they were in secure retirement systems.

Steve Levy, Bayport

Sept. bittersweet after retirement

I also thought I would teach forever ["School bells will toll, but not for me," Expressway, Aug. 30]. After almost 30 years, as amazing as it seems, I was not burned out.

But New York City teachers got a new contract, and the retirement deal was too good to refuse. I retired in June along with four of my colleagues. The possibilities for a life post-retirement are endless!

This summer has been like every other summer, a time to relax and regroup. But now as we approached September, I felt a little left out -- I never received the "welcome back to school" letter. I didn't set up my classroom. Retirement is an exciting change, yes, but it's also a scary change to the unknown.

Everyone is busy congratulating me and saying how jealous they are that I was able to retire. But they don't realize that if you don't have a solid plan, it's like going through an identity crisis.

Yes, the possibilities are endless, which makes decisions that much harder. Should I travel? Tutor? Substitute teach? Take courses? Try a different career? Or as Expressway writer Saul Schachter imagines, drive a school bus?

I'm not sure for now, but I do know that I can start cleaning out my basement -- a project I've put off for too long. As for my plans, as Scarlett O'Hara said, "I'll think about that tomorrow."

Elysa Parker, North Woodmere

Public funding for drug research

It's time to take the shareholder out of drug research and return the field to the researchers and doctors ["My prescription to help fix health care," Opinion, Aug. 28].

Major pharmaceutical companies benefit from the most anti-competitive government practice in the form of patent protection. In a truly free market, the cost of pharmaceuticals would be a fraction of what they are today.

Major pharmaceutical companies spend roughly $30 billion a year on research, some of it on copycat drugs of others' patents, or drugs just different enough from an expiring patent to obtain a new one. The cost to the American public for those patents is hundreds of billions a year more than generics would cost. Pharmaceutical companies spend twice as much on advertising and lobbying as on research.

Government funds roughly the same amount of research at our major universities and teaching hospitals. These institutions receive taxpayer support of one kind or another, without which they would not exist. If the government were to fund all drug research and relegate the major pharmaceutical companies to the production of generic drugs, we would save a fortune.

As a child, I lined up with every other school child in America to be vaccinated against polio, a vaccine that was created in a government-funded lab at the University of Pittsburgh. When journalist Edward R. Murrow asked who owned the patent on the vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk replied, "Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

Joel Herman, Melville


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