Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of September 5, 2011

Readers write in with 'truths' on Social Security and praise for the real value of a liberal arts education.

The real Social Security story

I read the July 25 article "Social Security: Time to trim?" with interest. There is no doubt that we have to address the Social Security program, but there is a common misunderstanding about the role the program has had in our current budget problems and the debt issue. The piece even points out that the Social Security "trust fund" is in surplus and can pay full benefits through 2036.

But by focusing so much attention on Social Security, the GOP has obscured the debt/deficit issue. Many hate the very concept of Social Security and see this as a good time to inflict a telling wound on the program. For others, focusing on cutting Social Security as the major cause of budget deficits takes attention away from dealing with real, immediate problems – especially the military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere. These engagements cost thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.

We can make changes to Social Security, but we cannot afford to be the world's policeman any longer, unless the world will kick in something to help pay for this function. The GOP attack on Social Security fits neatly into what seems its entire approach to the debt and deficit: Make the poor, the elderly, and the disabled bring us into fiscal balance.

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Why not ask those who get the most from the American model to make a contribution in sync with the access to wealth and influence they enjoy? I forgot, it's that very wealth and influence that prevents this from happening.

Martin Wolff

New Milford, N.J.

Your recent article on Social Security referred to the oft-repeated fairy tale of a Social Security "trust fund" that "can allow it to pay beneficiaries in full until 2036."

However, the truth is revealed earlier in the same article where it states: "If the two sides don't reach a deal and the cap on federal borrowing is not raised ... the government might not be able to pay out checks to beneficiaries."

Simply put, the trust fund is nothing more than an accounting gimmick; every single dime of the Social Security surplus has already been spent by the government.

Ward W. Smith

Wendell, Mass.

Liberal arts success

Regarding Elsa Núñez's July 25 commentary, "Liberate liberal arts from the myth of irrelevance": Thank you for resurrecting us liberal arts degree holders from the ashes of decades of naysayers. I'm 63 years old, run a foundation, am a writer and artist, run an international travel and safari company, and can say that I use my degree each and every day!

Robert Henry Walz

Washington

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