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Some below-the-radar benefits to Social Security

October 22, 2005

To the editor:

I would like to reply to Larry Kump's letter on Social Security.

Social Security has never been identified as anything but a tax as part of the "safety net" for those unfortunates who have "fallen through." In a civilized society, the "haves" must help the "have nots." "Help" is the operative word, not "give." Two examples:

A) Enron employees were robbed of their pensions and 401k savings by bankruptcy and many who made good money are still unemployed and many others are working for little more than minimum wages. Social Security is their only hope for retirement.

B) Many millions of people along the Gulf Coast have no money, no property, no jobs. For many of these, Social Security is their only hope of retirement.

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We can have control of our tax money through our representatives in Congress. If we fail to vote for the right people, whose fault is that? If we didn't vote at all, then we didn't care and we have no basis for complaint. Regardless of what they say, politicians love low voting levels because the "machine" can be much more dominant.

Too many people are loyal to a particular party, instead of what should be their first loyalty - the country and its Constitution. Vote for the man who will do the job you want. I am a lifelong Republican who is disgusted with the present administration which is turning "of the people, by the people and for the people" to "of the rich, by the corporations for the wealthy."

I do not understand point 4, that Social Security increases the inequality of wealth. As designed, the wealthy pay in more than they get and the unfortunate get more than they pay in. (This would change greatly in the administration proposal to place half of Social Security taxes into private accounts. Only the wealthy would benefit - stock market lows would hit low-income people very hard if they went to such a plan.)

Another part of Social Security that seems generally ignored is survivors insurance. This takes care of widows with children under 18 years of age. Few things are more devastating than to be a widow with small children and the breadwinner gone - auto or industrial accident, sudden heart attack, etc., at a time in life when no financial reserves have had time to build. Survivors insurance supports the widow until all of her children have reached age 18, and provides support for each child until age 18. What will happen to this if Social Security funds are cut up to 50 percent?

Do you realize the fringe benefits? We have not had a depression since the 1930s.

Before 1930, every generation or two had to face depressions that caused great hardships. Economists have stated that Social Security, unemployment insurance and savings deposit insurance have worked to eliminate depressions.

Financial adjustments (recessions) are inevitable in a capitalistic society. Then the vicious cycle starts of higher unemployment, reduced buying, less money in circulation, more layoffs, less buying and so the circle goes into depression. But wait - buying hasn't reduced that much because Social Security and unemployment insurance is spendable income and depression is avoided. Give some thought to what will happen to "private accounts" if a 1930s' style depression hits us.

Winston Churchill has said that we can find many flaws in democracy, but we haven't been able to invent a better form of government. There is always some discrimination in tax laws, but we have to work to change the worst.

Government must always be about people and their needs.

William F. Jones
Williamsport

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