I hope that Im not the only one suspicious about the recent wave of letters defending the Social Security system in our local papers. Ive found that many are reprinted from web sites of lobbying groups. I dont completely understand why they are using scare tactics aimed at the elderly except that it might be self-serving to cause a panic.
The truth about the Social Security situation is simple. Its a pyramid scheme that would be illegal if it were not run by the government. Just like all the budget surpluses that suddenly disappeared, its all just smoke and mirrors. The federal government doesn‘t follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Instead it runs on a cash basis. In essence, it immediately spends every dollar it takes in. It invests nothing for the future. There are no federal bank accounts where social security taxes earn interest and wait to be collected.
Predictions about the future viability of Social Security are, at best, wild guesses.
But here are some facts. Each year the ratio of people paying into the system as compared to collecting from it declines. People are living longer and collecting benefits longer. The cost to care for the elderly is increasing far faster than the rate of inflation and the growth of the GNP.
Social Security was never intended to be a complete retirement plan. It was to supplement individuals pensions and savings. Even with its ups and downs, the stock market is a tangible investment.
Putting money into a simple savings account does more to help our economy grow than letting the government spend tomorrows dollars today. We need to fulfill our obligations to seniors but we need to look ahead and design a system thats built on equity and not wishful thinking.
Charles Russell Willamsburg
Thank you for your articles on Social Security in the 1/20 issue of NE, especially the “Northern View“ by Mark Weisbrot.
With the dire threat the Bush administration poses to what should be sacrosant in our democratic society, the more information given to the general public the better.
We strongly advise that you avail yourself of an article found at www.ncpssm.org: Social Security Primer, January 2005 - History of the Social Security Program.
This article is concise and factual and should be read by everyone who has the least concern over the current debate. And we should all be concerned, as our failure to understand and address this issue only helps to promote a major threat to
Julia & John Brabenec
Who was the new Cherry Capital Airport terminal built for? The terminal looks like it was designed for the Southwest with large flat roofs and open spaces.
The massive roof out front doesn‘t extend far enough to protect loading and unloading passenger from weather.
The colonnades out front, while they looked impressive, are a safety hazard and hide guests moving behind them until they are right out in the street. Passengers are often in a hurry to get their cars and moving quickly with the momentum of heavy luggage. Because there are no regularly posted signs or speed bumps out front, people have had a tendency to move too fast through the area. There are stop signs, yet they sit low and to the sides where they are often blocked from view by vehicles parking.
The delineation between commercial and private pick up lanes is immediately blurred when the snow falls because the markings are on the pavement (many drivers have gotten tickets). So all this beauty designed to wow guests will leave them cold and wet for years to come as we all pay for the terminal‘s poorly thought-out design. Design which fails to take into consideration the very people it was trying to impress.
This is a great example of the disconnect between guest and host. It shows an apparent underlying seething contempt for others (or worse, and more probable, complete inattention to the common sense needs of others). Is this terminal an attempt at gratitude towards the guests and patrons that have made Northern Michigan a great vacation destination? The focus of the new terminal is so obviously self-aggrandizement
under the guise of customer service that it does indeed serve as a perfect entranceway
to Northern Michigan. To answer the question often posed -- Yes the new terminal “looks nice.“
Chris Williams TC
Who‘s going to pay?
What is the missing piece to this puzzle?
The security tab for our Presidents wartime inauguration was $11.9 million; our President refuses to pay for any part of it. The money comes out of our Homeland Security funds. Bush wants the protection, taxpayers pay for it.
There are no limits to donations for an inauguration. $8 million has been donated in the past three weeks alone. How much does it cost to arm a Humvee to protect our troops?
The harsh irony of the extreme wealth of Bush donations and the devastation being perpetuated upon the American people is horrific:
the President has not funded No Child Left Behind - it is a mandate without financial support,
the Social Security privatization is a serious threat to the middle and lower class,
the Medicare Prescription Card is a painful and costly mess for our elderly,
the assault on the environment to benefit energy companies continues,
our children continue to be sent to war for undisclosed and dubious reasons.
How long will we stand for it? Let our legislature know how you feel. www.firstgov.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.
Judy Childs TC
Freedom for Iran too
As a proud Iranian American, I am writing to express my strong support for your recent warnings to Iran and your pledge to spread freedom to other lands. Your statement recognizes the most obvious truth -- our problem does not lie with Iran, but with its ruling clerics.
Our policy should be one of denying the Iranian clerics the legitimacy that direct US-Iranian negotiations would lend them. Furthermore, while I believe that the military option should not be excluded, it should not be exercised until all other options of regime change have been exhausted.
The regime in Iran is standing on its last leg. Discontent amongst the Iranian people is higher than it has ever been before. Taking military action may prove redundant if we first give the Iranian opposition a fair chance to challenge the clerics. Through American moral and financial support, the Iranian people will themselves rise up and overthrow the ruling clerics and eliminate their nuclear program.
Mr. President, like most Iranian Americans, my family too has suffered, and continues to suffer from the brutal repression of the regime in Tehran.
My pride in America only grows when we choose to stand with those who stand for their own freedom. Now is the time to do so more than ever by funding the Iranian opposition and helping bring down one of the last outposts of tyranny.
Armand Ash Associate Professor
University of Detroit
Lately, I have seen some really... uninformed (is that gentle?) letters about Christians and environmentalism, and I just cant let them slide by.
I grew up Mennonite, attended a Baptist College, currently attend a non- denominational church, and teach at a Christian High School in which over 20 congregations are represented. I have NEVER been around people who Bill Moyers says welcome environmental destruction as a sign of the Apocolypse, or who, as a letter writer said, blatantly disregarded science. If anything, they have always been very aware of the Biblical injuction to be stewards of Gods earth.
C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, two of the most prominent Christian theologians of the 20th century, were decidedly concerned about this issue. Charles Colson, currently one of the more visible faces of Christianity, addresses this issue consistently on his website and in his books. Christian theologians and professors are churning out books on environmentalism. Anyone willing to do a little research would know this.
As for Kyoto, there are two sides to the stories, as usual. Note the following:
1. Of the approximately 130 nations that have signed so far, only 99 have had restrictions placed on them. China, the worlds second largest emitter of carbon gas, is not one of them.
2. 75% of the worlds C02 is emitted by the 89% of the worlds population living in countries that Kyoto would not affect.
3. In 1998, during the Clinton administration, the Energy Information Agency estimated that Kyotos total cost to our economy would be $77-338 billion per year. A low estimation places the average cost at $2,700 per family.
4. And by the way, the vote against Kyoto was bipartisan in the Senate - 95-0.
So lighten up. Maybe the ideas in Kyoto are good, but the treaty is lousy, and maybe Bill Moyers is wrong on certain issues. There is a whole other side of the world out there waiting to be discovered.
Anthony Weber TC
An Express reader suggests we imagine scenarios where bogeyman conservatives try to control reproductive rights of Americans. Why not imagine a few more?
Imagine we lived in a country where ALL information was truly unbiased and allowed more than just abortion and contraception to be discussed as a method to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Imagine a nation where young people were provided with all of the information they needed, but encouraged to wait.
Imagine a nation where a health care provider cant be forced to deny his Hippocratic Oath to do no harm.
Imagine a nation where some didnt feel that their rights were violated because they (hypothetically) were forced to drive across town to Osco instead of K-Mart.
Imagine parents being allowed to have knowledge that their children were seeking contraception or perhaps even seeking an abortion. (There ARE judicial safeguards for those who need them, so dont even
We live in a nation whose legal schizophrenia prosecutes a man for double homicide for the murders of his wife and an unborn fetus, while without blinking an eye allows an abortionist to snuff the life of a healthy unborn fetus from a healthy mother. Isnt the result the same? A drunk driver or drug addicted mother who causes fetal death can be prosecuted, but an abortionist may take the same life without consequence just because it may inconvenience someone.
Imagine a country where all citizens took personal responsibility for their actions and used sensible precautions to PREVENT unwanted pregnancy. Imagine abortion being a means of terminating pregnancies only in cases of rape or incest, or where a mothers physical or mental health was in danger, instead of a wholesale on-demand method of getting rid of an oops.
Yes, we have rights. With those rights there should also be the expectation that a citizen will with control act responsibly. Responsible prevention is always better than taking a life.
Lee Oslund Mackinaw City
Abuse of power
I echo the words of Gerry Greene: It scares me what I have seen here this evening, when we are talking about the backroom use of power that kept commissioner Anne Melichar from a closed session of the Traverse City Commission.
I worked for seven years to pass the noise pollution code of the City of Traverse City. Despite the City Commissions changing City Charter to keep me from coming to bring up the issue but once every six months and the changing of the meetings act rule so that I could only speak for five minutes, I won. It is a police code of rules that allow citizens to complain when decibel levels or night deliveries and snow removal are causing them problems sleeping or with their normal life.
On the 17th of January I called the police department at 3 a. m. and complained about the front-end loaders moving snow at Toms West Bay Shopping Center. I was informed that the prosecuting attorney has suspended the enforcement of this code and that no tickets will be written. How does the capricious nature of prosecuting attorney‘s whims make a law exist or not exist?
In that last few years I have helped to make Fulton Park into a wetlands learning area for the school children and the public. I have also helped to gift land from my mothers trust to make the bike paths join together. I would like to sell the city my mothers 16 acre trust property adjoining Fulton Park to create a 26 acre parcel accessible by bikes or autos that overlooks West Bay. Yet, I am scared that with one phone call they can stop anything positive from happening, and change the laws to suit their businessmens friends needs.
Gary Keyes TC