On February 23rd, a Republican group outside Senator Rick Santorums Social Security town hall meeting in Philadelphia was caught on CNN chanting, Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Social Security has got to go.
The Social Security has got to go chants of Republicans show that for the Republican base, privatization is just the first step towards getting rid of Social Security. The Republican Party opposed Social Security when it started and has opposed its expansion.
George Bushs plan would make massive cuts in Social Security benefits for future retirees in order to pay for private accounts. Privatization diverts Social Security taxes used to pay current benefits into private accounts.
Privatization means trillions of dollars of new national debt. Because current Social Security taxes are used to pay for private accounts taking that money out means huge deficits -- as high as $15 trillion over the next 40 years.
The Republican plan would turn a guaranteed benefit into a guaranteed gamble. The stock market is risky and cant be predicted -- that could mean millions of people wont have the money they need when they need it.
The only clear winner of this plan are the members of Wall Street who receive a commission on every dollar invested, ranging from 1-5%. With annual management fees, and up front commissions, the rich get richer, and the rest of us get stuck paying the bill.
Jeff Culver TC
Anti-war march planned
This weekend will mark the second year of the U.S. War on Iraq. This war is still illegal and any goals set by the United States first and foremost are for the benefit of the oil industry, the arms industry, the neo-liberal free-marketeers/privateers as well as the neo-conservative new world order builders. Neither the U.S. nor the Iraqi exiles hand-picked by the U.S. should determine the future of Iraq. The future of Iraq is for the Iraqis to determine.
Join the demonstration at Grandview and Parkway in Traverse City on Saturday, March 19 at noon against this war and acknowledge the 10s of 1,000s of Iraqis killed and/or wounded, the 1500 plus U.S. soldiers killed and the 16,000 plus U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq. Enough is enough!
Mr. Bush cries crisis. And Social Security thereby is in crisis?
The Actuaries of Social Security, who are charged with maintaining the soundness of the program, say its okay until 2042. The Congressional Budget Office says its good until 2052. And a little tweak now and its okay forever. And now even the Bush budgeteers admit thats right and privatization does no good.
So Mr. Bush, whose credentials manifestly lie more in the direction of mendacity than actuarial science, is mistaken, wrong, fallacious, deliberately misleading, etc... He is the crisis.
Why lie? Has he been listening to his voices? No. He really wants to bankrupt this country.
Well, there really is a rationale for this course of action and it was well expressed in the conservative mantra of Grover Norquist and Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute. They say: expand the deficit, correct it by sacrificing any social responsibilities, shrink the social government until you can drown it in a bathtub.
This sacrifices the concept that the government is entrusted with the public good and the welfare of all the people. The goal of the non-compassionate conservatives since the time of Roosevelt has been to divest government of responsibility for any social doctrine. Theyre working on it. Guns and butter? No, just guns.
Now many of these same folks advocate adopting a flat tax on income? Which is not a bad idea applied to wages and income, say, by removing the cap on wages for Social Security. Thats a great flat tax.
And, further, if we were to exempt wages/income below the poverty level, say $15,000, from taxation, just to introduce some progressivity into the tax, we could do wonders for the health of Social Security. And, for the health of the people who pay into it.
Robert E. Marshall Lake Leelanau
Think of women
Now that March is upon us, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize Womens History Month. This is a time to honor womens equality and contributions to our society. However, this year I would ask that readers will not just observe this month, but take action to help improve the lives of women who are not fortunate enough to live in the same circumstances as most of us in the U.S.
Each year, thousands of brides in India are burned to death for having insufficient dowries. In many countries, women who have been raped are killed by their own families to preserve the familys honor. Female genital mutilation still occurs in about 28 African countries. Rape is still used as a weapon of war in Rwanda, Haiti, Colombia, Yugoslavia, and elsewhere.
Please give your time or money to organizations that address these issues. You can also ask your elected officials to help make these issues a priority in the United States foreign policy.
Monica Evans Honor
The focus on Social Security, which is not in crisis, is a diversion from the national debt, which is in crisis.
Social Security is funded well into the future, even if nothing is done to fix it. The national debt is a huge burden we pass on to future generations. This is the inheritance we leave our children and grandchildren.
Orpha Shinn Saginaw