Letters: Public jobs often tough, pay little
I spent nearly 30 years as a Suffolk County police officer, working in several commands including precinct patrol, the canine section and the detective division ["Police officer pay is galling," Letters, Dec. 31].
During that time, I experienced several narrow escapes from danger.
I wonder if the letter writer would be willing to leave his family every night and enter a factory, alone with a canine at 3 a.m., to search for and arrest a burglar, knowing the burglar could see every move. I had no idea where he was hiding or if he was pointing a weapon at me.
Perhaps the writer would not mind tracking and arresting an escaped and armed prisoner from the Riverhead jail who buried himself deep in the woods in Upton.
Or maybe the writer would not mind staring down the barrel of a handgun while trying to capture an armed robber, or spending several hours in 10-degree weather and knee-deep snow while looking for a lost blind person. After local police and fire personnel failed to find him, I located the man, who was suffering from hypothermia, within an hour.
I was happy to do it, and I am proud to say I earned every dollar I was paid. Try walking a mile in my shoes.
Vincent J. Rakoczy, Yaphank
Editor's note: The writer is a retired police detective.
The letter writer states, "My advice to any young person who wants to be successful financially, without incurring the risk of starting a business or the expense and toil of learning a trade, is to become a municipal worker on Long Island."
To lump all municipal workers in with the police is wrong. Most municipal workers do not earn anywhere near the salaries the writer mentioned, especially if they work for Nassau County, which is entering its fourth year of Nassau Interim Finance Authority-imposed wage freezes.
A Nassau County correction officer for 20 years, I see many fellow officers stuck at under $30,000 in annual salary, even though we have a contract that is not being honored by the county. Many of these officers risk their lives every day and are on the verge of losing their homes because of the pay freeze.
Sure, there may be some highly trained, veteran police officers making the salaries mentioned, after working overtime, but this is not the norm. If the writer thinks it's easy being a police or correction officer, open to making life-or-death decisions in an instant, he is welcome to try.
My advice to any young person is, if you want to be able to buy food and pay your bills, stay as far away from a municipal job as possible.
John Ward, Centereach
Grateful for Catholic exemption
I support the Little Sisters of the Poor, which petitioned U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and won a temporary stay of the million-dollar fines that would have been imposed on nuns as of Jan. 1 for not providing products and services in direct denial of our deeply held religious beliefs ["Law kicks in, ready or not," News, Jan. 1].
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandate requires most employers, including Catholic hospitals, nursing homes, charities, universities and high schools, to provide or facilitate abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization, within their health insurance, or face bankrupting fines of $100 per day per employee.
At issue is nothing less than America's religious freedom, assured by the First Amendment and reaffirmed by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which passed with bipartisan support in 1993 under President Bill Clinton. To assert that women's health is harmed if the Sisters of the Poor do not provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraception and sterilization insults the intelligence of women and the common sense of all Americans.
This mandate was never proposed as law, never debated, nor voted on by anyone answerable to voters. If a regulation signed into effect by a government bureaucrat can dictate how much of their religious beliefs Americans are allowed to practice, what will be the next freedom deemed unfair or inconvenient?
Barbara Samuells, Dix Hills
Editor's note: The writer is the president of Catholics for Freedom of Religion, an advocacy organization.
Science supports lower carbon output
Newsday recently published an editorial saying that science should inform us on whether to close the breach in the Old Inlet ["Sandy breach needs study," Dec. 31].
I heartily agree with the premise that we should be taking carefully thought-out actions that use the best scientific knowledge to inform us, and that may lead us to leaving the breach as it is.
Some are concerned that this will exacerbate the effects of a future superstorm Sandy. Climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that continued emission of greenhouse gases and global warming will cause sea levels to rise, making floods from such a hurricane much more dangerous. The best way to prevent this is to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions now.
A promising method is a revenue-neutral carbon tax: Collect a steadily rising tax on all sources of carbon dioxide, and return the revenue to American households. As this follows market principles, it is supported by many economists, both conservative and liberal.
Max Katz, Stony Brook
Editor's note: The writer is a PhD candidate in Stony Brook's department of physics and astronomy.