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Don't blame our national debt on retirees

Retiring early unpatriotic | April 7, commentary

Don't blame national debt on retirees

I just finished reading Andrew Yarrow's op-ed column, which concludes that those who retire before the age of 67 are "selfish and unpatriotic" and worsening "our national debt." His conclusion is that by working longer, "we significantly could slow the growth of our multitrillion-dollar national debt, which largely is driven by rising Medicare and Social Security costs."

Barring disability, those who retire before age 62 are not collecting Social Security benefits, and those who retire before age 65 are not collecting full Social Security benefits. In addition, there are efficient repairs available for Social Security (largely ignored by those who favor the wealthy), such as removing the current income limit for payment of Social Security taxes.

More important, however, is the fact that our national debt has not been caused by those who retire early. Before this president took office, our budget was balanced and the national debt was a fraction of what it is now. Though this administration's additions to the enormous national debt were not caused solely by the war in Iraq, for starters Yarrow ought to order a copy of The Three Trillion Dollar War by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes.

It's one thing to opine that people ought to work longer; it's another to lay the blame for the spiraling national debt on them.

Jean York, Pinellas Park

Retiring early unpatriotic | April 7, commentary

Leaders failed us

on Social Security

I read this article with great interest. I think the writer's thinking should be corrected by someone who has worked these past 45 years with knowledge that there are certain rules set by the government and that if one lives according to those rules, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

For just a moment, let's pretend that we dutifully had those retirement funds sent to a large investment company over those same years, knowing full well that there was something to look forward to, only to find out at retirement that all those funds were spent during that 45-year period and never patriotically invested for us customers. They were used for whatever the debt du jour was when the funds were received. I think that while the company is seeking forgiveness, the court system would be throwing those responsible for the fraud into some white-collar federal prison.

In the case of our talented officials in Washington, we would probably need to build another dozen or so prisons to handle all the congressional "leaders" who have allowed this fraud to perpetuate and are still doing so today. Let's really look at the problem and address those who are responsible for the mess, not the worker who deserves what little will be coming his/her way.

Richard Lehman, Tarpon Springs

Retiring early unpatriotic | April 7, commentary

Looking forward to time off

Being in my 60s, I had no idea that I was in my "prime." I wasn't aware of being "unpatriotic" for wanting to stop working while I had enough health to enjoy my waning years. How could I be so blind?

I'm not blind or unpatriotic or selfish! I thought, rightly so, that a 50-year work history entitled me to some time off. All of us don't work in a white-collar world. Most of us are in a labor environment to some extent, and that takes a toll on your body and mind!

I was drafted during the Vietnam War; call me "unpatriotic" and I'll spit in your face, or worse!

This writer's ideas sound too much like "work for the many and not for the one" line out of an old Cold War pamphlet. (Not ours!)

I won't spend much time on an out of touch academic. I have to go to work so I can retire as soon as I can. That's American!

Delmar B. Preston, St. Petersburg

Retiring early unpatriotic | April 7, commentary

Follow the money

This story contains one glaring error. Social Security and Medicare have been in the black for at least two decades. Our debt has mainly been fueled by our military spending. The remedies suggested will only allow the government to continue spending Social Security money on the military.

Christopher Radulich, Apollo Beach

The inflation tax

We have many kinds of taxes in this country, far more than most of us even realize. However, there is one tax that many of us pay, unknowingly, that is unfairly misnamed. Allow me to give you a simple illustration.

Assume that a person (maybe it was you) purchased a piece of investment property in 1960 for a total of $10,000. Then, in 2007, you sold the property for $100,000. Wow, that was a pretty good investment, and you made a profit of $90,000 on the sale.

Now, wait a bit on the congratulations. You paid for the property in 1960 dollars and you received 2007 dollars in the sale. You did not make a cent on the sale; you just broke even. Your $90,000 profit was just inflation dollars. You may have "broken even" on the sale, but you have $90,000 of so-called profit that is called "capital gains." But it is really "inflation gains," and you are taxed on it.

The above happens with many aspects of the capital gains tax. Sometimes it really is capital gains, but in any sale that occurs several years after the original purchase, there will be a portion, if not all, that is nothing but inflation. It is bad enough to have the inflation, but to be taxed on it is purely insulting.

If you do not care for this kind of tax, write to your congressional representative. I doubt that it will do you any good, but you just may feel a little better about it. In the meantime, pay your capital gains tax but know what the tax really is.

David S. Swan Jr., CPA (retired), Clearwater

House okays $50B to combat AIDS | April 3

A kick in the teeth

Not too long ago, President Bush gave Africa billions for AIDS. Now I see the House okayed $50-billion that Bush asked for, to give again to Africa for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

With so many people in this country losing their homes and jobs, this is a kick in the teeth for the American people. What a shame. Poor America!

Jean McRae, Pinellas Park

A contrast on crime

The April 3 edition of the Times contained a glaring contradiction: Colin Powell's Promise Alliance placed Tampa and St. Petersburg among the 100 best communities for youth (Cities rank among 100 best for youths) while Bill Maxwell wrote a painfully honest column on the evils of homicide that is rampant in our area (If silence prevails in killing, justice won't).

Maxwell is, of course, the one who wins this dispute.

He has the capacity for truth that remote speculators lack. The true crime picture is far worse than the official statistics. One only has to read the Friday Crime Report in the Times to realize how correct Maxwell is. Powell's statisticians need to live here to grasp the size of this problem.

Cornelius Troost, Tampa

Don't blame our national debt on retirees 04/09/08 [Last modified: Thursday, April 10, 2008 5:47pm]
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