Letters to the Editor

September 01, 2009

How do we make Social Security sustainable?

To the editor:

I applaud Anna Lee Burker for her recent letter on Social Security ("Support the No Social Security Benefit Cut Bill," Monday, Aug. 24, page A4).

Burker has written dozens of such letters over the years, opposing program cuts, demanding increases and criticizing a private accounts option. Her passion and dedication are commendable. Unfortunately, in all those letters, she has never discussed how to make Social Security sustainable.

As she notes, most of the money in the Social Security trust fund -- some $2.5 trillion -- has been lent to the federal government (at interest). We'll need to begin repaying that money just seven years from now, as the baby boomers retire and Social Security tax revenue falls behind the program's payments to beneficiaries.


How should the federal government repay that debt? Since much of the money was borrowed so current generations (including the baby boomers) could keep their federal tax bills low while receiving more and more government services, should those generations be taxed more heavily now, or have their government services cut, in order to repay the debt?

More worrisome, the repayments will only support Social Security for a couple of decades. Then, the money will be gone, but the gap between Social Security's revenue and expenses will remain. Similar problems -- though more severe and immediate -- overshadow Medicare.

Burker's letters are thus incomplete: She can't demand that we maintain (and increase) retirees' benefits without also telling us how to come up with the tens of trillions of dollars necessary to do so. I look forward to her next letter to see how she would solve this most important problem.


Thomas A. Firey
Arlington, Va.

It's time to set term limits on officeholders

To the editor:

Catherine Webb of Mount Airy, Md., you hit the nail on the head.

Your letter to the editor ("It's up to us to fix our economic problems," Tuesday, Aug. 25, page A4) places the blame where it should be placed. As she stated, "The poor state of affairs is the fault of the people." Yes, we need a change. Wake up and let your voices be heard at the next election.

I might add, the final nail hit should be the cleaning of the House, Senate and the office of president at the next election. Let's rid ourselves of those who are self-serving and have been in office way too long. We need to place limits of service on all three seats of government. As I have stated many times over the years, we must do this. One six-year term for the president, and to succeed himself, he must choose to run on a write-in vote only. If he is worthy of re-election the people will speak. This allows him from day one to concentrate on the will of the people and their needs and not waste his time campaigning for office. The House and Senate should be set up in a similar fashion with term limits and write-in votes.

Wake up and let your voices be heard at the next election. We must start our own campaign to do whatever is needed to change our present system to term limits. To preserve our free and democratic society, we must act now.


Tom Wilhelm

Thanks to Williamsport for tribute to Grimes

To the editor:

We would like to acknowledge the wonderful tribute the Williamsport Mayor and Town Council gave to Ida Kate Grimes during Williamsport Days. Much work, planning and effort went into this event honoring Ida.

Ida taught school for 44 years, starting at Pinesburg School (which was then a one-room schoolhouse with no heat or plumbing) and ending at Surrey School.

Ida has always been our family's matriarch. She has certainly been the embodiment of strength, the moral force and love for all of us, both in her family and others' lives she has touched. Ida is now 104 and lives at her home with the assistance of devoted caregivers.

One of the highlights of Ida's day was going at night to Jeanne's Confectionery and helping Jeanne with the cleanup and preparation for the next day. She loved this so much because it gave her an opportunity to see many Williamsporters, so many of whom she had taught, or had taught their parents or children. She remembered all of them.

I'm sure many were involved in this for Ida, but I know Mayor James McCleaf, Nelson Deal and Jim Jewells were instrumental in bestowing this honor. Many thanks to everyone who contributed.

Again, on Ida's behalf, we want to thank the Town of Williamsport. Even as a little girl, I remember Ida saying Williamsport is God's country, so for the town she has always loved to recognize her in such a special way is especially meaningful.

Marilynn Miller and Jeanne House
Naples, Fla., and Williamsport

Was Cash for Clunkers that successful?

To the editor:

The latest statistics from the Cash for Clunkers program were on TV recently. It sounds like American carmakers didn't fare too well.

New car dealers and the fortunate few who could afford a new vehicle loved getting the $3,500-$4,500 from Uncle Sam. Who do they think Uncle Sam gets the money from? From the shoulders of overburdened taxpayers, of course.

I'm still driving a 1988 four-cylinder truck that's pretty much held together with duct tape and God's mercy. Even if it had qualified for the program, I knew it would be too risky to get into high debt buying a new vehicle.

I wonder how many people will default on these loans after a while? Will they expect to be bailed out for being encouraged to buy something they couldn't afford?

They are calling the program "successful," but what about when it's over? Back to the same slump, leaving the car industry spinning, as well as America's debt.


Sarah Hendershot

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