Expect returns if you invest your Social Security

I'd like to comment on David Langer's opinion piece asserting that the proposal to insert some Social Security money into the securities market is a "Ponzi scheme" ("Staking Social Security," Oct. 30).

I retired from the academic world fairly comfortably, due largely to the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, which was a model for the 401k plans, which in turn is a partial model for George W. Bush's Social Security plan. My generation was a supposedly special beneficiary of the Social Security System. But I calculate that my Social Security contributions would have brought about twice as much income if they had been put into teachers' insurance annuities.

Mr. Langer also claims, without proof, that the insertion of Social Security deductions would overbalance the private security system and over-enrich the brokerage community. The investment of $80 billion per year (Gov. Bush's plan) is less than 1 percent of the stock value of US corporations. Fluctuations of that magnitude in the stock market occur nearly every week without throwing the economy into a panic.

There are legitimate arguments for and against Bush's and Al Gore's plans, but those offered by Langer seem to me as phony as a three-dollar bill.

Douglas Lilly Norman, Okla.

Small sacrifice to pull the TV plug

Thank you for your Nov. 1 article "One family that forgoes screens of all sizes."

We made a conscious choice for peace in our home by not buying a TV and feel that we have really reaped the benefits of that decision. Just like the Rodriguez boys in your article, our 13-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son are bright and active. TV time would have robbed them of the time they needed to explore, imagine, and create.

In addition, the benefit of having a TV-free home has been that we haven't had to deal with a lot of discipline issues: The children don't beg for things at the grocery store or the toy store, they get their chores done, they practice piano, and they finish their homework. The lack of commercials in our home makes it easier for us to live within our budget and make wiser shopping choices. I have no regrets about living a TV-free life.

Margaret Elaine Bull Kirkland, Wash.

For the past 19 years, our family has lived without a television, and our three children, ages 16, 14 and 12, are the better for it.

Left to their own devices, kids rarely run out of things to do. When mine were little, watching them build forts with sofa cushions or duel with empty paper- towel rolls constantly renewed my faith in their ingenuity. Whether it's made them more creative than their TV-fed friends, I don't know. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Sheila Globus Sudbury, Mass.

US policy on foreign adoptions

Regarding your Oct. 17 article "Adoption vs. trafficking in Guatemala": The Hague Convention on International Adoptions will not go into force for the US 18 months from now, as your article indicates, but not until the instrument of ratification is deposited at The Hague and an additional three months have elapsed.

Informed sources at the US Department of State do not expect that this will happen until the beginning of 2003. Furthermore, the convention sets up procedures between countries that have ratified the treaty and does not limit adoptions by US citizens to only such countries.

William L. Pierce Washington Consultant on The Hague Convention National Council For Adoption

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