Letters to the Editor

Readers write about credit cards, Social Security, and the decline of printed news.

A credit card is a practical necessity

Regarding J.H. Huebert's Aug. 13 Opinion piece, "I exploit credit cards. So should you.": I agree that using the zero percent balance transfer and similar offers can be helpful to consumers – although the companies might well have mitigated that by the increased charges for transferring balances (I, too, read the small print).

However, I must take issue with the comment that "No one's forced to get a credit card at all." Having tried, very hard, on several occasions to function without credit cards, I beg to differ.

Unless a person lives in a very limited world; has a job that requires only working in one place (not traveling); is willing to put up with not repairing cars, appliances, or houses; or is willing to forgo medical care when it seems necessary, credit cards are quite necessary.

Even the local taxing entities tell people to charge the taxes to the credit cards rather than making the entities wait on payments when a taxpayer can't pay the entire amount. (I also happen to think this is a very irresponsible attitude for the taxing entities to take, but that's another matter.)

Kenna Giffin
Denton, Texas

In response to Mark Lange's Aug. 13 Opinion piece, "The outrage in your credit card's fine print": There's a big difference between abusive/predatory practices and unattractive ones. Abusive ones merit review for potential government intervention; unattractive ones merely warrant – in clear language – upfront disclosure, so that a reasonable consumer can intelligently decide whether to sign on.

Few, if any, of the objections Mr. Lange raises involve abuse. He does clarify, however, that there may be cause for the government to take pains to better educate the consumer so that sounder decisions are made in the financial marketplace.

Harry Porter

Include all incomes in Social Security

Regarding David Francis's Aug. 11 commentary, "A controversial call to raise the retirement age to 69": This article reminds us that the income cap subject to the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll taxes stands at $102,000. It has always been curious to me why all of our earnings are not subject to the withholding.

Is it actuarially unsound to have benefits based on all earnings? It seems that the increased contributions to the trust fund would more than cover the higher level of benefits that are based on covered earnings. It seems fairer to structure the system to treat all wage earners uniformly by doing away with the cap concept altogether or by raising it to $250,000 a year.Those earning above $250,000 likely have other retirement funding vehicles.

Maybe this approach would permit more flexibility in the "age of eligibility" debate.

David K. McClurkin
Beachwood, Ohio

Still attached to printed news

Regarding Jan Worth-Nelson's Aug. 8 Opinion piece, "I'm torn to see newspapers go": I admire the author's ability to both mourn and accept the passing of newspapers. I'm still in denial. I will never love or trust my laptop the way I do my local or international daily newspaper. As long as there is even a page of printed news to be found, that will be my first source. My computer's good for some things, such as sending this letter, but I can't roll it up, take it with me on the train or to my favorite breakfast place, or tear out the pages to remind me of some event I don't want to forget.

Alan Willis
Portland, Ore.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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