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Everybody's Column

Social Security is indeed in trouble

In an op-ed piece on Feb. 16 by Froma Harrop, she stated that old folks are doing fine and Social Security "doesn't need fixin'." Sure, the people who are collecting benefits are doing fine; they don't have to worry about where their income is coming from.

However, Harrop misses the point. Social Security is in trouble because the people who are working and paying into it are not going to be able to continue to afford the amount they will have to pay. She says that Social Security "can pay all scheduled benefits into 2049" because the extra money it has been collecting has been put in a trust fund. But who will pay back that trust fund when Social Security begins taking in less than it pays out after 2017: The same taxpayers who are contributing to Social Security!

The problem is not that the elderly don't have a good deal but that the country cannot afford it. In a few years, there will be only two people paying into Social Security for every person collecting.

Social Security was intended to provide a safety net for people who were too old to work. Today, people are not necessarily too old to work at age 65. Social Security should not be a retirement plan, but only a safety net providing people with the essentials of life when they are too old to work.

Donald Adams



Bipartisanship eludes our officials yet again

We are facing the greatest fiscal crisis since the Great Depression. Millions are losing their jobs and their homes, and the savings of retirees are disappearing. Isn't the situation dire enough for our elected representatives to put aside their grandstanding, political posturing, bickering and arguing to reach a consensus on what course the government should take to get us out of this mess?

You hear the call for bipartisanship. My definition of bipartisanship is common sense, integrity and the ability to put your country ahead of your political party. Unfortunately, there seem to be very few in Washington who agree with my definition. My greatest fear is that this critical time in our history requires extraordinary people as our leaders, and we have far too many very ordinary people.

Has it ever occurred to those in Washington who insist on following the party line that reaching a consensus on a stimulus plan may generate some confidence in our people, and maybe some confidence on Wall Street? That may be asking too much.

Don Grosso



Why are we rewarding irresponsible behavior?

I just read a synopsis of the housing bailout plan, and am flabbergasted. The incredulous part is the fact that both the borrower and lender are going to be rewarded for good behavior. If I read correctly, the lender can get up to $1,000 per year for three years, and the borrower is eligible for $1,000 per year for five years.

So we -- taxpayers and those who have lived their lives in a fiscally responsible manner -- are going to reward the fiscally irresponsible for being good girls and boys? The actual "rewards" seem pretty straightforward to me; the borrower will be able to stay in the house, and the lender will actually get a fair portion of his payments. Why does there have to be a little cherry on top of the already quite delicious cupcake at my expense?

Gary Nelson



Collins wrong to oppose County Planning Board

I am curious about how County Executive Chris Collins views his responsibilities to the people he was elected to serve. Too many times I have read something he planned to do, or not do, and wondered if he actually understands that he represents the entire county -- every city, town and village, whether urban, suburban or rural.

Collins' staunch opposition to the Erie County Planning Board proposed by Majority Leader Maria Whyte is the latest example of Collins' apparent inability to fully grasp the idea that he is supposed to support policies and programs that benefit Erie County by making government more efficient and transparent. His veto threat smacks of bad politics and worse "leadership" and I sincerely hope he reconsiders. If Collins proceeds with this veto, he will add his name to a too-long list of local leaders whose lack of vision once again prevented progress in this region.

Sean Mikula



51 lives were lost in Flight 3407 crash

We can all be grateful and proud of our community responders and volunteers for coming together as one caring, thoughtful group who rose to heroic stature when Continental Flight 3407 crashed in Clarence, taking the beautiful people directly to their God.

So many tributes are for 50 when the unborn baby is not counted. There were 51 deaths. We must pray for all of them. That baby's daddy and grandparents mourn him as well as his mother. We must not forget any of them, as each untimely death is a constant reminder of our fragile status.

We must thank God each day for our own life and then act as volunteers and empathetic neighbors at all times and act heroically every day to care, love and serve one another. May the 51 casualties rest in the arms of God forever and may their loved ones find peace with their precious memories.

Marian M. Gray



Tax religious leaders reaping obscene profits

It is way overdue to impose taxes on those who hide behind the cloak of religion. Decades ago it might have been a good idea to exempt religious organizations from being taxed, however, in the present world, mega churches, televangelists and many others in the religion industry reap obscene profits from the uneducated, undereducated and even those who are educated and sincere, but who are emotionally ravaged by charlatans who profit from people in distress.

Recently, I saw Benny Hinn blatantly tell his viewers that it was "their job" to send money to him because the end times are near and he needed money to do God's work. Another woman frequently hawks overpriced vitamins on one of the religion networks. Another televangelist minced no words when he talked about his love of hundred dollar bills. Pat Robertson has mixed politics and religion for many years to his well-known profit, much of it coming from the poor and elderly.

I could go on and on with many more sickening examples, but I think you get the picture. We live in a world that is becoming more and more corrupt. We now know of the corrupt bankers, financiers and businessmen. It's time we realized how corrupt many religious leaders have become, and fairly tax them.

Conrad Sundol


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