Letters to the editor 2/20

February 20, 2005

Another way to save

To the editor:

Tim Rowland's excellent piece in the Sunday (Feb. 13) Herald-Mail was right on the money, as far as it went. He is making the case for President Bush's "ownership society." But notice that Rowland barely mentions personal accounts under Social Security. Let's add them to Rowland's points.

Savings on a regular basis, beginning as early as possible in one's work life, does two things. First, it adds to your ownership of assets. Second, if your assets are in interest-bearing accounts or equivalent investments, the compounding effect over a long time can produce enormous financial gains. That's where Rowland gets his numbers.

We all know that regular savings is a great idea. The problem is that saving limits the satisfaction of current wants and needs and defers them to a future time. Younger workers and those with relatively lower incomes have lots of wants and needs and an impatience to have them gratified, but little spare cash to save for the future. Saving is low on their priority list. That's why offering new retirement 401(k)s won't cut it.


Now comes Bush's plan to take a small share of payroll taxes (2 percent to 4 percent) and allow those who so desire to put that money in a personal investment of their choice. The money is to be invested in personal savings accounts and is not an additional cost taken from their current earnings. Rather, it is something they already are paying out to the Social Security system. In other words, it costs them nothing to start saving and investing. In this case they would be foolish not to take advantage of this low-risk, high-reward deal. Most of them will.

Tim, if you put these two ideas together, you've got a winner.

Donald R. Currier


In Workers' Comp deal, track wins, horsemen lose

To the editor:

When I read Larry Yanos' column in your paper Sunday, Feb. 6, I was appalled. Who ever wrote the headline for the column certainly does not understand the thoroughbred horse racing industry and did not read the article.

The headline states, "Tracks will give up profits to pay state's debt." The "Track," aka Penn National Gaming Inc., was not asked to pay one red cent.

The West Virginia Workers' Compensation bill (SB1004), passed in the special legislative session Jan. 29, calls for the horsemen and dogmen of the four West Virginia racetracks to pay $11 million a year for 20 years into the Workers' Compensation Fund out of money allocated for purses.

This amounts to at least $85 million being taken out of Charles Town horsemen's pockets alone. Let me make it clear that these are not &profits;" they are the dollars that pay all the horse related bills. After many, many years of operating in the red, horsemen have, since slots, started to recoup the millions of dollars that have been invested in horses, farms, equipment, feed and labor.

This is the second time that the state of West Virginia has "dunned" the horsemen and dogmen for dollars from slots. In 2001, when legalizing the "Gray machines" the state of West Virginia taxed the horsemen and dogmen what now amounts to about $9 million a year being taken from the Charles Town horsemen.

The truth of the matter is that the horsemen who did not make this workers comp debt are bearing the whole load this time, while the race track owners, who probably do the most lucrative business in the state, are not being taxed one thin dime.

Please be more careful in depicting by word what is happening to the Charles Town horsemen.

Janene Watson

Charles Town, W.Va.

Defining 'business-friendly'

To the editor:

What does business friendly mean to you? To candidates Dick Trump, Ruth Anne Callaham, the Rev. Haru Carter, Dan Kennedy, Scott Hesse and Tory VanReenen, it means listening carefully and respectfully to the business owners of the community.

It is by the business owners large and small that jobs are created and wages paid. A robust partnership between business and government is a basic building block for the renewed vibrancy of our city. Being business friendly means working hard to bring more jobs to our city. It means working hard, in concert with the Economic Development Commission and county government to ensure Hagerstown is attractive to businesses with high-paying jobs.

The target is a $15 per hour wage, including health insurance. It means working hard to smooth the process for opening a new business - a "one stop shopping" approach to benefit both the city staff and business owner. It means working hard to find innovative ways over, under or around the barriers that often confound the business prospect.

Recently some members of the Vision for Hagerstown team visited with the Uptown Shoppes of Downtown Hagerstown group during their weekly meeting at the Gourmet Goat.

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