Readers Write: Conservatives can't compromise; Retirement is for cheap learning

Letters to the Editor for the weekly print issue of June 18, 2012: How can a conservative compromise with a position that is totally against his or her own political, economic, and social philosophy? An important option for one's retirement years is learning stuff, at a low cost.

How can a conservative compromise?

The May 28 DC Decoder article "Why Congress is gridlocked" reports on the reasons Capitol Hill in-siders give for the gridlock. The third point, "A lack of institutional knowledge," is a valid point. The newer members are not beholden to other members of Congress in mutual back-scratching or to the lobbyists plying their trade on the Hill.

As for socialization, they are in Washington to work, not attend parties. Yes, they have a lot to learn, but they know that they have a purpose higher than being reelected at the next election.

The "hyperactive news media" (the fourth point) is a valid issue as well, but these former Hill staffers and scholars can't blame the media itself for news leaks. News leaks come from the Congress members themselves or aides working in their offices. It is the responsibility of a free press to report what it knows.

As a retired manager of a major media outlet in New York, I recall the stultifying effect that the Federal Communications Commission's "fairness doctrine" had on programming.

The seventh reason ("You get the Congress you vote for") says: "Americans say they want compromise in their government. But they don't vote for compromisers." To this I say: Happily, we still have a core of conservative citizens in the Untied States. How can a conservative compromise with a position that is totally against his or her own political, economic, and social philosophy?

Arthur Thompson

Atchison, Kan.

Low-cost learning for happy retirement

Margaret Price's Money column "Retirement is more than savings" in the May 21 issue failed to mention an important option for one's retirement years: learning stuff.

In my year and four months of retirement I've taken a master gardener class and a master naturalist class, two drawing classes, and a class on Milton; taken classes on T.S. Eliot, Plotinus, and St. Augustine through my church; participated in German discussion groups through my local senior citizens center; and attended numerous lectures and films at a nominal cost.

My fellow students are energetic, lively, interested, and interesting people getting the most out of their retirement years. I can't foresee ever running out of new enthusiasms to explore.

Kathryn Tanner

Savannah, Ga. 

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