Trained to kill, and we did | Feb. 3 Timothy Kudo column
Speaking up helps all veterans
Thank you, Timothy Kudo. You have performed a great service to the public and to all veterans who have experienced war. Too often the media and popular culture glorify war without realizing the anguish veterans must live with in silence for the rest of their lives.
With wars in progress and the fear of seeming unpatriotic at such times, it is not easy to put into words what we feel in our hearts. You have done that admirably.
One would think that after 5,000 years of civilization and with all the intelligence and creativity we have, we could find more peaceful means to settle international differences.
Frank Braccio, Treasure Island
Trained to kill, and we did Feb. 3 Timothy Kudo column
Thanks for the candor
This article has compelled me to shout out "Semper Fi." Having served in Vietnam (1967-68) as an Army infantry platoon sergeant for the 173rd Airborne and seeing more than my share of sorrow, I can say that Capt. Timothy Kudo has the unique ability to capture his thoughts and express them in a way to make you think. I'm impressed with his candor and thought-provoking words. His men should be proud to have served under his direction.
Jack McAllister, Apollo Beach
What you paid. What you get Feb. 3 Perspective
On the gravy train
I retired early at age 62 and collected all the Social Security I paid in in 13 months. At 65 I collected all my Medicare premiums in six months. At 67 with maybe 10 more years ahead of me (possibly more), I'm riding a gravy train. I know this because I did the math. I should also mention that the doctors wanted me to spend far more than that.
It troubles me that so many people think these funds were or could have or should have been invested in stocks. It also bothers me that the Times keeps using average income rather than median income, where the numbers would be far more skewed.
William Ott, Largo
The magic of interest
Reading your defense of the quasi-socialist Ponzi programs run by the government in countering "that's our money!" by showing how much was paid out versus how little was really paid in, it occurred to me how brazen the far left has gotten when the concept of interest is brushed aside so cavalierly. It would have been nice had your piece included a comparison of how much money each fictitious couple would have earned had the same investment been made over nearly any chunk of time corresponding to an average career and what the capitalistic magic of compounding interest and return on investment would have wrought.
Dwayne Keith, Valrico
The scenarios presented in this article would have been more credible had the Urban Institute used a more sensible assumption with respect to a return on private investment of Social Security tax money. If one had simply invested his Social Security payroll taxes in an S&P 500 index fund from 1943 to 2010 (reaching 65 in 2010), the annualized return, adjusted for inflation, would have been 7.43 percent, almost four times the return of 2 percent the Urban Institute used. The institute is apparently assuming that people would keep 40 years of retirement savings in a passbook savings account.
The institute's suggestion that "the government has long paid out most Social Security revenues to beneficiaries" is misleading at best. Any Social Security surplus in excess of what was paid out each year was borrowed by Congress and spent on anything and everything else in the "unified budget" (general fund). Those IOU's constitute the Social Security Trust Fund. With $16 trillion-plus in debt and yearly deficits of $1 trillion-plus, where does Congress get the money when the trust fund finds it necessary to redeem the bonds? They borrow more money.
It is the fiscal irresponsibility of Congress over many years that has brought us to this circumstance.
Dave Loeffert, Dunedin
A botched agreement
These statistics can be skewed to anyone's viewpoint. Since C. Eugene Steuerle helped assemble these calculations and his viewpoint is that "We're not really entitled to get our money back" because we spent it on our parents, we can see where this idiot's mind-set is. When the government takes money all your working life with the agreement that this is for your retirement, as far as I'm concerned that is a contractual agreement.
Donna Ban, Tampa
Breath of fresh air at Capitol Feb. 3 Tim Nickens column
Tim Nickens describes Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Senate President Don Gaetz as a breath of fresh air. That's funny. Most public employees see them as an icy cold arctic blast, relentless in their quest to destroy the retirement of teachers, police and firefighters.
Weatherford mentioned missing his daughter's first solo bike ride while at work, and that is touching, but police and firefighters miss much more than that over the course of a career: holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, weddings and funerals, all while risking their lives and physical and mental well-being.
When politicians go after our retirement benefits with false accusations, like the Florida Retirement System is a "ticking time bomb," when it may be the most fiscally sound retirement fund in the nation, it makes me and other public employees question their integrity and their motives.
Tony Mercer, Palm Harbor
The mind-set of the poor | Robyn Blumner column
Lessons for teachers
All teachers should read A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne. A few years ago, every teacher at Middleton High School (a Title I school) received a copy of her book, and we held several discussion workshops. As a result, I immediately tried a different approach with a student who stopped coming to my Web design class.
Rather than write a referral and get him suspended (the norm), I found out why he was skipping and arranged for him to stay after school and make up his work. Per Ruby Payne, a trusting relationship was built, and this student became one of the top performers in my class.
Kathy Freriks, Tampa