Tango between Social Security and defense

While "Reforming Social Security - a dangerous game," (Dec. 6) deftly exposes the false crisis those supporting Social Security privatization have fomented, it missed a connection with another key election issue - defense.

At an issue forum for the Center for Active Seniors Inc. in Davenport, Iowa, Lee Goldberg of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare stated that the Congressional Budget Office projected the 2000 budget would spend $17 billion in Social Security revenues.

He said this was an indicator that Congress was not using surplus Social Security revenues to pay down the debt, one simple step the government can take to help ensure the program's solvency.

Instead, this kind of spending feeds the false crisis over Social Security that those coveting radical privatization espouse. Did congressional leaders not promise that Social Security money would be protected?

Commanders of our armed forces testified before Congress of an $8 billion shortfall in basic readiness needs like spare parts, housing, and training. Meanwhile, the cold war-designed F-22 Raptor moves forward despite $9 billion in cost overruns to date.

If military spending is not refocused to benefit troops instead of defense contractors, the leaching of Social Security revenues, and the false crisis it engenders, will threaten soldiers and seniors alike.

Scott Nathanson Washington Executive director Citizens for a Responsible Budget

Send Cuban boy home

It is clear that two sets of rules apply to those traveling to the US from abroad. There is one set of rules for Cubans and a second set of rules for everyone else. The opinion piece "How little boy riles Castro," (Dec. 15) portrays Elian Gonzalez's mother as a heroic woman who gave her life for her son's freedom. In reality, she was an economic refugee who took her son Elian on a reckless and irresponsible journey without the knowledge or consent of the boy's father.

If an emigrant from any other country attempted to enter the US under those circumstances, the minor child would be returned to their immediate family without delay. However, the abduction of a Cuban child is a noble endeavor according to the opinion article.

It is immoral for Elian to remain with his distant relatives in Miami because they have material resources that his father cannot provide. Send Elian home to Cuba to be with his father, half brother, and grandparents. That is where he belongs.

Mary MacDonald Halifax, Nova Scotia

Heroes, not victims

Regarding "Army-Navy is much more than a game" (Dec. 10): I object to the article's characterization of past West Point and Annapolis graduates as "victims" of World War II in this otherwise enjoyable piece on the Army-Navy football game.

Although his usage of the word is technically correct, the connotation of the word victim is not appropriate. Victim implies innocence or helplessness, passivity and weakness.

Edward C. Olivares Jr. Fort Bragg, N.C. Lt. Col., US Army

Kudos to essay on religion

Regarding "To be alone with one's God," (Dec. 16): This is a scholarly, eclectic, and far-ranging essay. Thank you for the quality of writing and the content. This is a fine example of what the Monitor does so well, and of what few other publications can equal.

Mike McLeod Federal Way, Wash.

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