Don't spare the boomers | Dec. 27, commentary
Boomers counting on benefits
I think Robert Samuelson has a good idea about being fair in fixing Social Security, Medicare and other retirement programs. However, I disagree on his standard of fairness when he says that we boomers should bear the brunt of cutbacks as justifiably as those still working and looking toward their own retirements in 30 years. Those in the younger generations still have options available to them. Retired or the soon-to-be no longer have the same range of options.
Having boomers lose benefits as much as the younger generation may sound fair to a well-paid writer like him. But it leaves a bit of fairness out for millions of others in the middle or lower classes who are retired or nearly so. They have counted on the government promises that their parents and grandparents saw fulfilled. For the boomers, age 60 or 65 or 70 is a bit late in the game to change what you get when you pass "Go."
I'm an early boomer soon turning 65 and retired by merger a few years earlier than I had hoped. But it was close enough. I had plans in place based on assumptions about how much I could save each year and what I could expect in compensation for 40 years of Social Security contributions. Conveniently, the government sent me an annual statement telling me how much I would get at Social Security time.
Don't send me a letter now saying that I'm going to have to eat cat food because we all have to cut back. Send the letter to the people who still have options about how to handle their decadeslong (for them) transition to retirement.
Thomas E. Harvey, Largo
Government to blame
Robert Samuelson's column is a good example of so-called experts who blame the problems on us rather than the government. He wants to save Social Security by raising the retirement age and decreasing benefits because the large baby boomer generation will place a huge burden on the federal government.
Well, Bob, why don't you get a real job, one where you had to sweat at work, get up at 5:30 a.m., ride the bus to work, pay your payroll tax for 35 years, and now because some expert economist thinks the government is in trouble, we boomers ought to give up some of what we paid in and what we were promised.
Our banks have been bailed out with money we also do not have, but Samuelson thinks the boomers should give something up like all this was our fault.
We paid in, and now we want what we were promised, and it's not our fault our government can't control its spending.
James Demmy, Kenneth City
People are hurting
I would like to remind incoming Gov. Rick Scott that the majority of his constituency is middle class.
Many are in dire financial straits. Many, too, are retired. Retirees have not received a cost-of-living increase from the federal government in two years. Food and gasoline costs are escalating, and those increases affect the middle class the most. Many people are unemployed or underemployed.
As Scott takes the helm, I ask that he please not impose more hardship on this populace. He should seek out inventive means to create jobs and to turn the Florida economy around. Don't impose more distress in the form of higher taxes, fees or higher utility costs on those who have already endured too much.
Sandra P. Lachs, Temple Terrace
Modesty is missing
Our new governor should have taken a lesson from the governor of Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton, inaugurated Monday, is having a "blue jeans to black tie" inaugural ball on Saturday, with tickets costing only $30. Students and people with low incomes will be charged $15.
The theme of Dayton's inaugural is "Going to Work for Minnesota." Sounds a lot like "Let's Get to Work" by Rick Scott, but costing a lot less.
Ron Bowman, Dunedin
America is exceptional but can always be better | Dec. 28, letter
Number in poverty rising
The letter opining about America being exceptional stated that there are "pockets of abject poverty" in America. Just a few statistics shed a different light on that description.
The U.S. census identified 45 million Americans living in poverty in 2009. That year saw the largest increase in the poverty rate since statistics began to be tracked in 1959. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development finds America's poverty rate to be third worst among developed nations. There are now 41 million Americans on food stamps, a 20 percent increase since 2009. There are now 50 million Americans on Medicaid. One out of every five American children is living in poverty.
Yes, there are worse places in the world to be poor, but America harbors more than just "pockets" of poverty.
Gerard Meyn, Dunnellon
Record heat to cruel cold | Dec. 30
Climate change to blame
Despite the cold weather in December, 2010 was one of the three warmest years on record for the planet, and the decade from 2001-2010 was the warmest decade on record.
This article missed an important opportunity to inform the public about global climate change. The article failed to mention global warming, yet it is the cause of the temperature extremes that we are experiencing. Rather, the article offered "stagnant high-pressure systems" or the even less comprehensible statement that the "climate wants to get back to normal" as explanations for the swings.
The real reason for the extremes is global warming. As the Earth warms there has been an increase in atmospheric moisture from melting Arctic ice. More moisture results in more seasonal snowfall in the some areas of the world, even as the ice is melting. The sun's energy reflects off the bright white snow, escapes back into space and results in cooler zones in the upper atmosphere. This in turn can divert the jet stream north or south, bringing cooler weather and moisture to some parts of the Earth and leaving other parts hotter and drier. In the summers, no cooling effect is present.
An excellent article explaining these events (Bundle up, it's global warming) appeared in the Times on Dec. 31. Many of our political leaders would benefit from seeing it.
Howard Tuch, Tampa
Navy Veterans Association
Business as usual
It seems the situation with Bobby Thompson is this: An immoral person tricked lots of honest people out of money, then used the ill-gotten gains to lobby politicians and peddle influence so that they would write laws in his favor. Isn't that just business as usual in Tallahassee and Washington?
Stephen Ritchey, Bradenton