Letters to the Editor - June 3

June 03, 2011

Republican voters must see party is working against them

To the editor:

It was gratifying to see the U.S. Senate reject the Republican plan to terminate Medicare, with five Republicans joining the Democrats to kill the bill. But it is important to remember this episode. Older Republican voters must see that their party is working against them.

Within the span of six years, Republicans have proposed turning Social Security over to Wall Street and ending Medicare. Thankfully, Democrats have banded together to defeat both ideas.

In recent years, Republicans have used the word “entitlements” derisively to make Social Security and Medicare recipients sound like freeloaders. But that is unfair. The people who receive the benefits are entitled to them. They paid for them.  

The Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) withholds premiums from all of our paychecks to pay for Social Security insurance and Medicare insurance. Both have met every obligation and have never added a cent to the national debt. They have often generated surpluses that have been borrowed to pay for other federal programs. Those loans must be repaid. And a raise in the small Medicare FICA premium and elimination of the Social Security FICA cap would end debate about their financial viability.

Like any insurance plan, solvency really depends on the reality that many who pay the premiums will die before retirement or shortly thereafter. That is the calculation that allows those who live long enough to be covered in their senior years. Some will collect more than they contributed in premiums, and some won’t. But those who have paid their FICA premiums all their working lives are entitled to collect.

The GOP considers getting rid of Medicare and Social Security to be part of a strategy called “Starving the Beast.” As Grover Norquist said, “our goal is to shrink government to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub. We want to reduce the number of people depending on government.”

Eliminating government jobs seems to be the biggest Republican objective. And inWashington County, where two of the top three employers — and five of the top 10 — are government employers, this would be devastating. But the easiest targets are programs that help those with the least political power. So the GOP has taken aim at Medicare and Social Security.

It is a cruel game. But if the realization that the game is being played against us results in political gain for Democrats, it is well past due.

Mike McGough

Darwinian evolution is a problematic hypothesis

To the editor:

Most of us, at some time or another, have seen at least one of the 47 Charlie Brown television specials and movies.

Who can forget the voice of Charlie’s teacher? Wah, wa-wa-wah, wa-wa-wa-wa-wah.

I think of that voice every time I read one of Professor Powell’s lectures on evolution.

Evolution is a scientific fact. Don’t you see? Wah, wa-wa-wah, wa-wa-wa-wa-wah.

Evolutionary biology is not under suspicion by the great majority of scientists. Wah, wa-wa-wah, wa-wa-wa-wa-wah.

School teachers need to teach evolution more aggressively. Wah, wa-wa-wah, wa-wa-wa-wa-wah.

No, Darwinian evolution is not a scientific fact. It is a problematic hypothesis desperately in search of enough evidence to become a theory.

And while it is true that most scientists at least pretend that they believe in Darwinian evolution, so what? The dust bin of science is full of hypotheses, theories and, yes, even laws, once believed to be true that later were found to be wrong.

Of more significance, to me at least, are the many scientists who, at great risk to their jobs and their careers, openly dispute that Darwinian evolution is true. What gives those scientists the courage to swim against the tide?

Professor Powell is right about one thing though. School teachers should do a more thorough job of teaching Darwinian evolution. By all means, teachers, teach the whole thing. Scrub the makeup and lipstick off this toad and let your students see for themselves how ugly it is.

G.F. Miller

Firey column ‘hit the nail right on the head’

To the editor:

My thanks to Thomas Firey for his March 31 column (“Retirement woes fleece taxpayers, public workers”) and to The Herald-Mail for publishing it.

I sincerely hope that readers have had a chance to read the column by now. Public workers especially should have keen interest in the views outlined by Firey. The column did an excellent job in explaining exactly what the core problems are and what caused them, concerning the deficits that now plague many states and local governments. That includes, by the way, Maryland, Pennsylvania andWest Virginia.

Firey explained in some detail exactly how and why the many problems now exist in meeting obligations to retired state workers as well as those yet to reach retirement years. I would not attempt to expound on the column. It was well written and covered all key points of the existing problem as well as problems that will emerge. The article could not have been written in clearer terms or more factual terms.

I would highly recommend that all public workers — those who have not read the column — obtain a copy of it and read it quite carefully. Being a Civil Service Annuitant (retired federal employee), I can attest to the conditions clearly outlined by Firey.

My thanks to Firey for writing the column and the very excellent manner in which it was written. As the old saying goes, “He hit the nail right on the head” with each explanation provided in the column.

Bill Hahn

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