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Why COLAs Need Some Adjusting

Regarding the opinion-page article "Federal Pensions: Budget Solution," Dec. 5: To say the current budget crisis would probably never have taken place but for the imposition of COLAs (cost-of-living adjustment), and to offer as proof the writer's own pension experience, is disingenuous. His example is not the norm. Most federal retirees receive far less than the author does, and many earn only one pension. For these, a cap on COLAs could be catastrophic in the face of inflation.

A less-painful and more-constructive suggestion might be to place a cap on the overall amount retirees could receive from multiple federal pensions.

An even cursory familiarity with government spending would reveal that the budget crisis derives from many sources: unnecessary defense spending, which even the Pentagon opposes; waste and fraud in military contracting; Medicare expenses; corporate welfare; congressional pork in home constituencies; loss of revenue from the cheap sale of ore-rich federal lands; and other fiscal irregularities too numerous to mention in this letter.

Federal retirees should not be penalized because of congressional misappropriation in other areas.

Amy Sharp

Bellevue, Wash.

I am a retired federal employee who served as a civilian personnel officer for more than 30 years.

During my service, I reached a grade GS-14, which placed me in the top 8 percent of all federal positions. I retired in July 1975.

Insofar as the double, triple, and quadruple dipping of COLAs that the author has successfully engaged in, I believe there should be a limit placed on them. It is not my intention to cry "poor mouth." I receive a good annuity, but not even one-third of what the author earns.

The COLAs that retirees receive help us stay close to the rising cost living. The figures the author throws around are badly skewed for effect.

He does not represent the typical retired federal employee. Instead, he represents those excesses in the program that need correcting.

Dana H. Craig

Mesa, Ariz.

Campus poster prompts civil debate

Regarding the article "Lost on Campus: Civility, Rational Debate," Nov. 30: The author, a professor, makes reference to a debate at Franklin & Marshall College over a poster in the campus Women's Center. The poster by Mary Beth Edelson superimposes the heads of women on the 13 men in Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper."

The author says, in part, that "efforts to censure - as distinct from 'censor' fell upon largely deaf ears." If by this statement the author means that he didn't get the response he wanted from the college administration, then he is correct.

However, it would be incorrect to argue that there was not a civil and rational debate on this topic. Whether it was in the Women's Center or on the editorial pages of the student newspaper, the debate generally showed the standards of "evidence, rational argument, and civility," that the author requires.

After participating in this debate, the dean that the author refers to determined that no administrative action would be taken to remove the poster because it resides in space dedicated to the Women's Center. No students are required to be in that space for any reason. Anyone who goes to the Women's Center could expect to see images like Mary Beth's Edelson's.

This is not an example of demonizing Christians, as the author seems to imply. Since its founding in 1787, Franklin & Marshall College has a long tradition of tolerance on a variety of issues, views, and individuals. We are proud to have the author as a member of our English faculty.

Ray Betzner

Lancaster, Penn.

Director of College Relations

Franklin & Marshall College

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to "Readers Write" and may be sent to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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