Letters

Personal retirement accounts put people in control of benefits

The May 8 article, "Social Security shortfalls are suspect," misses the real point behind Social Security reform.

Whether the system is solvent or not does not change the fact that workers do not have property rights to their Social Security taxes or benefits. According to the 1960 Supreme Court case Flemming v. Nestor, Congress had the legal authority to take away benefits on a whim.

Not only will Social Security not be there in the future, it is not there now. Congress has also given itself the authority to borrow Social Security surpluses and spend them on other programs: bridges to nowhere, Vidalia onion research, a rice museum. These are the things politicians are buying with our retirement savings.

Why concern ourselves with 2040 when our rights are being stripped away today?

It is time for reform that secures both rights and solvency. Personal retirement accounts do both because they provide guaranteed benefits that can't be spent by politicians and would generate cash surpluses by 2080.

It's our money. It's our future. It's time we demand our rights.
Nicola Moore
Education Director, Students for Saving Social Security
Washington

College students can grow in character

David Callahan's May 8 Opinion piece, "A better way to prevent student cheating," suggests that it's too late to change a college student's character. I disagree, and so do the students assigned to the Development and Integrity course for cheating on the Kansas State University campus.

Studies in college student development report that one of the developmental tasks for college students is that of developing in integrity.

When students are caught cheating at KSU, they take a course that stresses values, college student development, and moral decisionmaking. Some say they haven't had such a direct conversation in years, if ever.

The KSU Honor System is based in part on belief in the student development perspective and in fair adjudication. Who knows? KSU may be thwarting dishonest acts in future CEOs, journalists, educators, and others.

It's never too late to influence a young person who has made a mistake.
Helene Marcoux
Associate Director, KSU Honor System
Paxico, Kan.

Joint custody can be rewarding for all

The May 3 article, "Yours, mine, then yours again," is one of the best I have read in a nonacademic journal regarding joint physical custody.

Successful joint custodies can be rewarding for all involved, and perhaps the best of post-divorce childraising situations, but the arrangement is loaded with difficult challenges. My dissertation research on the topic is showing that good joint physical custodies are fairly rare.

It takes an exceptional amount of "putting the kids first" to motivate ex-spouses to put aside vindictive actions so that they can flexibly communicate and behave constructively. Healthy joint physical custodies require divorced parents to interact often and effectively.

I encourage cooperative ex-spouses to consider joint physical custody, but I believe that even the best of these arrangements are second-best, even to intact-yet-challenged families. If a couple has not yet divorced, I recommend reconciliation, which is really the best thing for the kids.
Chris Hahn
Merced, Calif.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.

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