Social Security options other than privatization

By , David Martin, and Liz Furst

Regarding your article, "Social Security: Insurance - or an investment plan?" (May 22): I found myself in full agreement with the article regarding the importance of having legislators and their constituents recognize that Social Security as a social insurance program and private equity investment are two different tracks that should always remain separate.

Having spent my career as a financial accountant primarily on Wall Street, partial privatization of Social Security would incur vast start-up and administrative costs; complicate a system that most Americans already don't fully understand; weaken the current transfer system to its various beneficiaries; subject the system to possible favoritism, error, or fraud; and create investment "winners and losers."

Legislators and presidential candidates should consider other options. For example: A person paying the maximum Social Security payroll tax in a calendar year would lose future insurance benefits for that year. However, that person would gain the opportunity to invest additional Individual Retirement Account money the next calendar year and claim an immediate tax return deduction. Over time, people paying the maximum payroll tax would still be paying into the system, but upon retirement would receive increased benefits of private investing in lieu of full "social insurance."

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It seems as though everyone would be a winner: current and future Social Security recipients, investors, the government, and Wall Street.

Craig Kaiser Redding, Calif.

Mexican economy not a success

In your June 14 editorial "Mexico as No. 1," you claim that Mexican economic policies are a success. I believe most Mexicans would disagree. According to INEGI (the Mexican government's own statistical agency), real wages for Mexicans have declined by one- fourth, and the number of Mexicans living in poverty has increased by 4 million just since the beginning of NAFTA.

Moreover, the social discontent generated by this impoverishment has led to a growing domestic role for the Mexican military. Mexico has seen its armed forces grow by one- fourth while the presence of military checkpoints and patrols has greatly expanded. The military has also committed four major massacres with impunity since NAFTA. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, called the military presence "heavy and oppressive" in Mexico.

The "crime, drug traffic, corruption, and wealth disparity" which you claim to be "a drag on investment" are serious problems in Mexico, but result directly from economic policies that impoverish Mexicans. For the sake of most Mexicans, I hope that whoever is elected this July changes course rather than "builds on the economic successes of the outgoing Zedillo administration."

David Martin Denver Denver Justice and Peace Committe

Questions raised by physical science

Your June 7 article "As gene map nears, big questions" does indeed raise questions on what makes up and rules a human being.

Dr. Candace Pert, founder of a new field of science, psychoneuroimmunology, writes in her recent book, "Molecules of Emotion," that "the body is unconscious mind." She sees the human mind and body as one entity, not two.

And from another scientific direction, physics, we learn that time and space, constituents of matter, are the constructs of the human mind, and not independent of it.

These discoveries in physical sciences do not answer questions, but raise more.

Liz Furst Springdale, Ariz.

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