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Beware of Bush ad campaign to push Social Security plan

Re: Social Security blitz to be privately funded, Jan. 1.

I see in the paper that the Bush administration is going to solicit its major campaign contributors to fund an election-style advertising campaign to push Bush's plan for private Social Security accounts.

These are the real WMDs that we need to fear: Words of Mass Deception. These contributors are the ones who will profit from the privatization of Social Security, not the recipients.

Remember, this change proposal comes from a man who was not able to run a business successfully in private life. All of his attempts at private enterprise had to be bailed out by his father's money or connections. Why would this proposal be any different?

The bipartisan Congressional Budget Office says that Social Security is fine through the year 2052 and just needs minor tweaking to carry on successfully after that. It makes no sense to undertake a costly change that does not guarantee Social Security recipients even as much as they are receiving now.

Let's do all we can to defeat this proposal that is intended to put more money in the hands of the corporate fat cats, not the Social Security recipients.

Bill Balmer, Belleair Bluffs

Consider the corruption factor

While I agree that partial privatization of Social Security could lead to increased gains, I oppose it for a different reason than those generally put forward. Corruption.

Follow the money. We are talking about putting more than $80-billion a year into the stock market. Clearly, investment would only be allowed in approved securities and funds. How big a bribe would you be willing to pay to get on that list? Broker commissions would be in the hundreds of millions a year. What would you pay to be one of the approved brokers? The stock market would take off like a rocket until the first scandal, and there would surely be one sooner or later. If we decided we had made a mistake, how would we get the money out of the market without crashing the market and perhaps the economy as well?

Dick Wetherbee, Gulfport

Our unaddressed needs

Why, with all our country's problems, does the current administration place so much emphasis on privatizing Social Security? We hear nothing from them about the real need to reform our citizens' health care, about raising the shamefully low minimum wage, which amounts to one-third of what a person needs to rent a one-bedroom apartment here in Florida, or about promoting a policy that lessens our dependence on foreign oil.

Perhaps the White House is focused on the boon to business that would result from its Social Security plans, and not on the plight of the elderly.

Vincent Ciulla, Sarasota

Warnings go unheeded

Re: Privatization reservations, editorial, Jan. 2.

Regarding Gov. Jeb Bush's decision to forge ahead with privatization, in spite of his own review committee's findings, I am reminded of a quote by the late Walter Lippman: "It requires wisdom to understand wisdom: the music is nothing if the audience is deaf."

Willie J. Day, St. Petersburg

Making way for the metric system

Re: The annoying metric system, Jan. 2.

Daniel Puckett complains that advocates of the metric system think Americans are ignorant or lazy for not adopting the common international measuring standard. He then manages to confirm their suspicions.

The examples he uses to "prove" that the English system is more true to everyday life (such as the case of thinking about one cup rather than 240 milliliters) works only when your recipe book uses the English measures. Turn that same example around when the recipe book calls for 250 milliliters and you see how inconvenient it is to visualize 1.041666 cups!

If the recipe calls for one cup of something, then you need a cup measure to make sure you get that exact amount. None of us can accurately judge a cup of sugar just by pouring a glob of the stuff. Neither can a metric user escape using a measuring device to get his 250 milliliters accurately.

Every argument I have seen against the adoption of the metric system depends to a great degree on the use of unnecessary accuracy of conversion between the two systems.

However much we would like to avoid the initial learning process, metrification is creeping up on us, and it is not just scientists leading the way. If you are an automobile mechanic, you need a set of metric wrenches. Virtually all cars have metric nuts and bolts. What size is your engine? Five liters? Wow! No need to translate that to cubic inches. Medicine is already far along the road to the metric world. What size aspirin tablet do you take?

We need to know at least the basics of the metric system (it's really the "System International" or SI; "metric" is the old descriptive).

Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg

Wishing for deeper debate

Re: Abortion vs. the role of courts, by George Will, Jan. 2.

George Will made some well-reasoned points about the seemingly endless emotional controversy over abortion.

But I doubt anyone is listening. He started off great, reciting how improper it would be to ask a judicial nominee how he would vote on a specific question. But I wish he had been more specific about what he thought the solution should be. Can we really expect the senators to consider the ideals of integrity of American democracy and federalism when debating the confirmation of a judicial nominee? No. But I would like that.

It involves more than opinions on the right or wrong of abortion. It involves basic questions of governmental power _ balancing the judicial against the legislative and executive and balancing federal vs. state power.

John Edward Armstrong, St. Petersburg

New editor could make a difference

Re: Times veteran chosen as newspaper's new managing editor, Jan. 7.

Congratulations to Stephen Buckley on being named the Times' managing editor. I liked what he said in Friday's article about the appointment: "My job will simply be to hold the St. Petersburg Times to its own high standards every day." That's a worthy goal, and I'm rooting for him to succeed.

Beyond that he is in a unique position, being the first black managing editor, to have significant influence in racial matters in a city that has had some well-publicized problems in that area in the past.

Charles House, Sarasota

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