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Letters to the editor, Jan. 16, 2014

Balesano headline

To the editor:

Fifty years ago this month, the U.S. Surgeon General published a landmark report that scientifically linked smoking to cancer and other illnesses. At the time, it was groundbreaking. With the help of American Cancer Society research, the report became a launching pad in the fight against tobacco and spurred the progress we’ve made in curbing tobacco consumption and reducing tobacco-related diseases, like cancer.

Fifty years ago, 42 percent of the population smoked and there were no restrictions on where one could do so. People could even smoke on airplanes.

Today, the smoking rate has dropped to 19 percent and, thanks to comprehensive smoke-free laws, almost two thirds of the population is protected from the deadly toxins found in secondhand smoke.

But a lot of work remains. There are still 44 million smokers—and every day, more than 3,000 kids pick up their first cigarette. The tobacco industry continues to develop new products to addict more people and keep current customers from quitting, as well as, fight proven tobacco control measures, such as smoke-free laws and tobacco taxes that can protect our kids from a lifetime of addiction.

Let’s use this anniversary to turn up the heat on Big Tobacco and finish the fight we started 50 years ago against this deadly, addictive product. Let’s start by restoring critical tobacco use prevention and cessation funding that was cut in last year’s budget. Fewer people using tobacco means fewer people dying from diseases like cancer. Join me in finishing the fight.

Betty Berger

Volunteer, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN)


Tuition headline

Dear Senator Murphy,

It is great sign of progress that you are addressing the issue of college tuition and student loans. As reported in the New London Day on December 8th, “By Murphy’s admission, the bill - The Affordable College Costs Empower Student Success Act of 2013 - is aimed at trying to ensure that future students will not be saddled with an unsustainable amount of debt, as opposed to tackling the current burden of debt.”

However, the current burden of debt should be tackled now, not later. Isn’t one trillion dollars of student debt enough to take action?

My alma mater, Hamilton College, paid President Joan Hinde Stewart $722,496 in 2010, which included a $202,900 bonus. Others also did well: Karen Leach, VP Admin and Finance, $273,047; Richard Tantillo, VP Communications and Development, $308,802; Peter Tonetti, Chief Investment Officer, $374,912; David C. Paris, Professor of Government, $220,874; Derek Jones, Professor of Economics, $170,959; Hong Gang Jin, Professor of East Asian Languages; $182,025; Maurice Isserman, Professor of American History, $202,320.

These lavish salaries are supported by the 39 percent of Hamilton students graduating with loans averaging $18,568 for cumulative of approximately $3.4 million. One-fifth of this debt is due to President Stewart’s salary.

One student left Hamilton College $41,500 in debt. She can have monthly payments of $477.58 for ten years with a total payback of $57,309 or monthly payments of $288.04 per month and payback $93,589.59. She will be an indentured servant to Ms. Stewart for the next decade or two.

Hamilton’s total expenses listed on its 2010 tax return were $146,215,194. Reducing those expenses by 4.75 percent would yield $6,945,222. This would be enough to replace all student loans with scholarships and have a fund to pay back all outstanding loans to Hamilton students. The student loan program can and should be ended with colleges lowering expenses and increasing scholarships.

Nor should it be forgotten that the Federal Government takes in $60 billion dollars a year by participating in this tuition racket. It is not aiding students to go to college it is simply participating in this tuition extortion racket. The Senate hearings on education should focus attention on the million dollar college presidents and why they raise tuition each year.

Senator Murphy, Congress must require the IRS to remove the tax-exempt status from any college or university that fails to lower tuition in 2014, graduates one student one dollar in debt or fails to reimburse students for outstanding loans. Tuition at private schools would be about $9,000 per year at the rate of inflation since 1960, not $44,000. Congress can end the tuition extortion racket and force colleges and universities to pay back outstanding student loans. It should do so, and we can only hope you will play a leading role in accomplishing this.

Paul Streitz

Director, College Parent Association

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