Raising the retirement age is only part of a long-term solution

Regarding your Oct. 14 editorial, "Raising the retirement age": I'm not keen about having someone tell me when I should or shouldn't retire. Retirement is a very personal decision based on many individual issues. It is certainly not ready-made for a one-size-fits-all solution.

For one thing, who owns my pension? My employer owns one pension, and the government owns another. But where does that leave me in the decision process regarding my future? Today there is much discussion of both personal and private retirement accounts. Social Security is a personal, but not a private, account. The need is to supplement this account with a personal - and private - IRA or 401(k). The programs are already in place; they just need improvement.

Dictating changes in retirement age may temporarily improve the money situation, but it doesn't do much for the big picture. Solutions will take more than a little tinkering. We need to acknowledge the size of our problem and go to work on solving it.
Arthur Gardner
Goleta, Calif.

Raising the retirement age may be a good thing, but only if age-discrimination laws are going to be rigorously enforced. Where are the jobs right now for older workers? I am one, and I've been out of work for over 13 months. Older workers could do some of the jobs Bush claims Americans won't do.
Dennis Bell
Redlands, Calif

US and China are partners, not rivals

In response to Milton Ezrati's Oct. 17 Opinion piece, "Why the yuan won't dwarf the dollar": China and the United States should not regard each other as political and economic rivals but as partners. The two countries have a symbiotic relationship. Without American consumers, China cannot maintain 9.3 percent economic growth, and without US Treasury bonds, China cannot peg the yuan to the dollar. Although Chinese exports to the US are far greater than American imports to China, American multinational corporations that are driving the American economy are growing because of the limitless Chinese market. Each country is excelling as it capitalizes on what the other has to offer.
Peter Jong-Woo Jeong
Guangzhou, China

National pet policy is sorely needed

Jeffrey Shaffer's Oct. 21 column, "Make way for a national pet policy," flippantly treated what has become a serious ethical issue. It is believed that some people died staying in Katrina-affected areas because they were not permitted to bring their animal companions with them, and they could not bear to abandon them. Many pets were shot in the streets for no reason. Post-Katrina and Rita animal sheltering was generally dismal. The owners of hundreds of thousands of animals in factory farms simply abandoned the animals to die. It is disappointing that this situation was treated as humorous.
Mark C. Williams
Alexandria, Va.

Jeffrey Shaffer is the first person I know of to identify animal guardians as a potentially powerful voting bloc. In the wake of the bungled animal rescues after Katrina, the tragedy of forcibly abandoned pets is an issue that must be dealt with in future evacuations. Millions of pet owners, for whom their animals are family, are the new "silent majority." Politicians neglect this distressed, increasingly vocal group at their own risk.
Jane Shakman
Ossining, N.Y.

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