- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2000

A solemn birthday for Social Security

Today marks the 65th birthday of the nation's largest Ponzi scheme, known (ironically) as Social Security. Stuart Butler is right in arguing that it is time to retire the troubled program ("Time to retire Social Security," Commentary, Aug. 8).

As a young man just entering my prime working years, I am frightened to think that I will have to pour 12.4 percent of my earnings into Social Security year after year while not being able to count on getting it back when I retire. The best I could hope for from Social Security is a 1 percent or 2 percent return on my contributions.

Because Social Security is a pay-as-you-go system, any benefits I receive will depend on taxes collected during my retirement. This does not make me feel secure. In fact, there is no legal guarantee that I will receive anything from Social Security.

I could be earning consistent returns of 7 percent or more if I invested some of my Social Security contribution into private markets. Returns like these would allow me and millions of other working Americans to retire with genuine security.

SCOTT VAN BERGEN

Falls Church

Legislation a good step in fighting disease

The global AIDS pandemic may take more lives in Africa than the bubonic plague, which decimated 14th-century Europe. I read with interest your editorial on the subject ("Plague of ignorance," July 16) and am proud to announce that any day now, President Clinton will sign legislation we passed in bipartisan fashion to create a $1.1 billion trust fund through the World Bank to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. This trust fund will draw resources from across the globe to unleash the private sector's capacity to conduct lifesaving research. It also will invest unprecedented amounts of capital in effective prevention programs.

Nonetheless, much more must be done to bring real relief to Africa and developing countries. We must work with governments and private organizations alike to provide health services to impoverished nations, educate citizens of developing countries about the disease, support and educate children orphaned by AIDS and prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. As the world cries out for our help, we cannot ignore this challenge.

This epidemic is real, and it is growing. By the end of last year, 33 million people in the world had become infected with the HIV virus, 23 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Poor-quality health care, the lack of a vaccine, insufficient local resources to deal with a health crisis and inadequate education all have contributed to the rapid spread of the disease in Africa.

Disease, however, does not respect national borders. In this age of global commerce and travel, this horror presents a clear and present danger to American security. In this time of unprecedented prosperity, we cannot afford to ignore this global crisis.

JOHN F. KERRY

U.S. Senate

Washington

United States should participate in an International Criminal Court[p]

The July 26 article on the International Criminal Court ("Ex-envoy argues against an ICC") spotlights a barrage of criticisms that are both ill-informed and unfounded. Far from distancing itself from the ICC, the United States should embrace it. The United States is still seeking to exempt itself from a system of international justice that is firmly supported by all its NATO allies (except Turkey), including the 15 members of the European Union. Opposition to such an institution, charged with bringing to justice the most heinous criminals, will only undermine U.S. global leadership.

Critics who warn of U.S. soldiers being dragged before the ICC and accused of war crimes by unfriendly states ignore the numerous safeguards built into the ICC statute, as well as the court's narrow jurisdiction. The ICC will not replace national courts in prosecuting the worst criminals. Rather, it will defer to national authorities unless they are unwilling or unable to proceed genuinely even if those authorities decide the case does not warrant prosecution. Moreover, the ICC will only have jurisdiction over crimes committed by the nationals or on the territory of states parties. Proponents of the court like Britain and France, who have substantial military commitments around the world, are satisfied that the ICC statute meets their concerns.

The ICC is likely to come into existence within two years. It will provide a permanent legal venue to prosecute the world's most aggressive criminals, men such as Foday Sankoh in Sierra Leone. For the last several years his Revolutionary United Front guerrillas have committed atrocities that both threaten international peace and seriously undermine the rule of law. Rather than standing on the sidelines, the United States should be in the lead when Mr. Sankoh, and others like him, are brought to justice. Even as a non-signatory, the United States can and should remain engaged with the court both to ensure that justice is done in such egregious cases, and in shaping the ICC consistent with U.S. national interests.

BRUCE BROOMHALL

International justice coordinator

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights

New York

Was column on immigration fair?[p]

One of the ways in which an argument can be made in a false and misleading way is by attacking the reputation of one's opponent rather than addressing the issue that is raised by him. In philosophy, such an argument is characterized as "ad hominem." In the July 26 issue of The Washington Times, you published an argument that is essentially ad hominem as a column.

"FAIR targets Abraham" (Op-Ed) takes issue with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) on legislation that is favored by Sen. Spencer Abraham. Under the proposal, the United States would issue several hundred thousand work permits each year to foreign, technical professionals. FAIR opposes the enactment this law.

The columnist, Damon B. Ansell, claims that readers should align themselves with Mr. Abraham because his legislation "is critical to the continued growth of our nation's economy" and is "crucial to to the future of our high tech economy." However, the column does not provide evidence in support of these contentions. Instead, it devotes the space that has been allocated to it to attacks on the reputations of FAIR's founder, a member of FAIR's board of directors and the media mogul Ted Turner. Mr. Turner's relationship to the issue of work permits? The column explains that, like FAIR, he is worried about overpopulation.

Space in the opinion pages of The Washington Times is precious. Please don't waste it on fallacious arguments.

TERRY OLDBERG

Los Altos Hills, Calif.

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Thanks to Damon Ansell for exposing the Federation for American Immigration Reform's (FAIR) unfair attacks on Sen. Spencer Abraham.

The attacks FAIR has launched against Mr. Abraham and others, such as Rep. Tom DeLay, who does not support FAIR's anti-immigrant stance, must be repelled. FAIR threatens Republican attempts to be our nation's majority party by alienating immigrants and anyone else who it does not consider worthy Americans.

Ours is a nation of immigrants and diversity. As the well respected grandson of Lebanese immigrants who succeed thanks to America's democracy, Mr. Abraham represents our future. His efforts to inject sanity into the immigration debate should be applauded.

GUSTAVO VILLAGELIU

Falls Church

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