- The Washington Times - Monday, September 11, 2000

Column identifies problems for working seniors

Donald Lambro's Commentary article "Why Social Security is a losing deal" (Sept. 4) is right on the money. However, Social Security is an even bigger loser for seniors who are still working.
I am 76 years old, and I still do some part-time executive training and consulting. For the last ten years, I have had to pay into the Social Security system over $6,600 per year. This included self-employment tax and Social Security taxes. One would think that would entitle me to some increase in my Social Security benefits, on which I also pay income tax. Well, my $6,600 "contribution" did entitle me to an increase $24 per month, $288 a year. That is a negative return of around $6,312 a year.
Yes, let's modify the system to help the younger folks. A note of warning, however, to those who plan to continue to work after the retirement age: You'll get hit with a triple whammy…Social Security taxes on earnings, little in the way of additional benefits, and more taxes on what little extra you do receive.
One wonders what the politicians plan to do about that.
Williamsburg, Va.

Seniors look to election for less government intrusion

Congratulations on your excellent Sept. 6 editorial "Trust-busting for seniors," in which you praise Texas Gov. George W. Bush's innovative plan for providing health care to our country's 40 million seniors.
The plan, as you point out, is based on the choice available to some 9 million government workers, including senators and representatives in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. I have long maintained the same thing, emphasizing that if the program is good enough for a senator, it's good enough for a senior.
Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore enjoyed the benefit of the program when he was a senator and when he was in the House of Representatives, and he enjoys it as vice president with a prescription drug benefit. Why does he deny this great choice to our seniors in favor of his own bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all, big-government plan?
His expensive federal program ignores individual choice and is full of red tape that gives benefits not only to the poorest seniors but also to Ross Perot.
The 60 Plus Association

State Department should pay cash reward for capture of Arab terrorists

Your Sept. 6 Embassy Row column reported that Greece is offering a reward of $4.2 million for information leading to the capture of terrorists from the November 17 organization, which has murdered over 20 people, many of them Westerners. The award was offered, and recently increased, in response to the Clinton administration's criticism of the Greek government for failing to stamp out terrorist groups.
It is blatant hypocrisy for the Clinton administration to urge the Greek government to increase its rewards to capture terrorists in Greece when the administration refuses to offer any rewards to capture the Palestinian Arab terrorists who have murdered or injured hundreds of Americans over the years. The Israeli government has publicly identified by name 23 of the fugitive Palestinian Arab killers yet the administration still refuses to take the most elementary step of offering reward money.
The State Department's Web site, www.heroes.net, offers multi-million-dollar rewards for the capture of terrorists who have killed Americans abroad except, that is, for Palestinian Arab terrorists who have killed Americans in Israel. Why are they exempt from American justice? The State Department also offers $25,000 for information leading to the return of a missing State Department laptop computer containing sensitive data and $5 million for information leading to the capture of anyone who has committed war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, crimes that did not involve American victims.
Rewards for a missing computer or a Yugoslavian war criminal are perfectly justified. But why shouldn't the State Department reward program, which was set up specifically to capture terrorists who have killed Americans, also offer rewards to capture Palestinian Arab terrorists who have killed Americans?
National president
Zionist Organization of America

Underage drinking transforming college "think tanks" into "drug tanks"

Your Aug. 29 article on the recent alcohol-related incident at James Madison University in which at least one law enforcement officer was injured and numerous arrests were made for public drunkenness and underage possession of alcohol ("College president calls for study of riot") reminds university and community leaders, law enforcement officials, parents and students to take the issue of underage drinking seriously.
A recent alcohol-related fracas near the Catholic University of America only underscores this need.
Tolerated underage and binge drinking is turning our college campuses from think tanks into drunk tanks. Though some mixed solace can be taken from the fact that, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, alcohol-related arrests on college campuses were up more than 24 percent in 1998, this largest jump in arrests in seven years is being outpaced by an increase in drinking by this predominantly underage population.
In fact, according to this year's Harvard School of Public Health study, 63 percent of underage students on this country's college campuses said they had had been drinking at least once in the previous 30 days. At the University of Maryland's College Park campus, the school's own student survey in 1998 revealed that nearly three-quarters of the student body had reported consuming alcohol in the previous month.
Worse yet, 42 percent of this nation's campus-based underage drinkers said they drank at least five drinks each time.
Add the fact that national studies show that 21 percent of teens drive motor vehicles after drinking, and you have a potentially lethal situation.
Underage drinking and binge drinking by any student need not be a rite of passage on today's campuses. Neither should it be tolerated by the student body and community as a whole. According to a Harvard School of Public Health study, students who do not engage in binge drinking experience many secondhand effects of other students' binge drinking. Many are victims of physical assault or unwanted sexual advances or have had their property vandalized or their sleep or study interrupted.
A few of the tools available for colleges to immediately address this pressing public health issue are an enforced zero-tolerance policy for alcohol infractions; parental notification; contracts among students, parents and colleges; and suspension and expulsion. The recent creation of the Washington area's College Consortia to gather university, community and law enforcement leaders to address this issue plaguing our college campuses and now spilling over into their surrounding communities is an excellent step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.
The choice is either to begin proactively addressing this public health issue today or simply to send out police in riot gear with pepper spray and gas canisters (as was done at James Madison University) every time a town-house party gets a little out of hand.
Executive director
Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP)

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