- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 27, 2005

Social Security takes from heirs

Perhaps it is just a testament to the misunderstandings involved in Social Security, but unfortunately Pamela Mercer’s argument (“Social Security is as balanced as any insurance,” Letters, Monday) manages to miss the point of “What do you mean ‘we’” (Commentary, Aug. 18). She argues that Social Security is “as fair as any insurance system could be.” However, fair insurance would require that a group’s premiums cover the benefits paid to that group. And that is not even remotely true of Social Security.

Older generations got far more in benefits than they paid. Older Americans may feel that such a subsidized deal for them is perfectly fair. But my point was that in a world where there are no free lunches, that “fair” deal must be massively unfair to younger generations who are forced to pick up the multitrillion dollar unpaid “balance” necessary to make program promises good.

In fact, rather than being insurance, this aspect of Social Security acts more like reverse life insurance. In normal life insurance, people pay so that they will leave more for those who outlive them; but Social Security has given more money to those older at the expense of their heirs.

GARY M. GALLES

Professor of economics

Pepperdine University

Malibu, Calif.

Armstrong on steroids?

The European cycling community has tried for years to “get” Lance Armstrong (“Latest bombshell hard to defuse,” Sports, Wednesday). Now we are to believe that a sample taken in 1999, kept all these years, has been “scientifically analyzed” and just happens to show Armstrong used the banned red-blood-cell booster erythropoietin. The fact that his urine was kept all these years makes me more than just cynical.

Tom Knott says Armstrong has to find a way to defuse the situation. What is he to do? Find a 1999 sample of his urine and have it tested independently? How is he supposed to defend himself, other than to continue his strong denials and spend millions more on legal actions?

Did you think for one moment that this is why a 1999 sample miraculously appears and “proves” he used erythropoietin? There is no way Armstrong can defend himself from this.

By the way, it is partly because of Armstrong’s financial contributions to the cycling-testing community that the test used to defame him was developed.

There are many adjectives you can use to describe Lance Armstrong, but dumb isn’t one of them. We are to believe he won in 1999 by cheating, but those other six wins were luck. I think my intelligence continues to be insulted.

MIKE KOTZIAN

LaPlata, Md

PETA’s real message

In response to the Inside the Beltway item “Shock value” (Monday), I feel compelled to think that those who find fault with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) campaign comparing slavery and animal abuse are missing the point.

While the atrocities committed against humans throughout history represent dark and certainly regrettable periods of abuse for which we are justifiably ashamed, they occurred because one group took advantage of its power over another. With a hindsight of crystal clarity, we ashamedly avert our eyes from images of humans torturing and otherwise abusing other humans. However, in the context of those actions, perpetrators and onlookers saw nothing wrong with it.

Realizing that regardless of species, suffering is suffering, PETA’s advertisement is a call to action — raising the point that similar atrocities are committed against animals in factory farms on a daily basis and that those atrocities committed against animals are as wrong today as the atrocities against humans were when they were committed.

When those in power realized it was wrong to abuse other humans, laws changed and the gross injustices and inhumanities ended. PETA’s campaign serves to remind us that it is wrong to abuse any living animal. It calls upon us to bring an end to these modern-day atrocities.

STEVEN R. BAYER

Norfolk

Immigration and the states

Contrary to what The Washington Times would have its readers believe, I do not support illegal immigration (“Duncan urges aid for illegals,” Metropolitan, Aug. 17; “Ehrlich says Duncan wrong on illegal aliens,” Page 1, Aug. 19; “Duncan and illegals,” Editorials, Aug. 20).

As the top elected official of Maryland’s most populous jurisdiction, I am sworn to uphold the laws of the land, and I take that oath very seriously. Moreover, protecting the public’s safety is the paramount responsibility of all of us in government. That is why I have worked so hard to reduce crime in my community. Despite gaining 137,000 additional residents over the past decade, Montgomery County has seen crime drop 12.5 percent during this same period.

Though The Times appears committed to reviving the Know-Nothing party of the 1850s and protecting the failed immigration policies of the current administration in Washington, the paper does a disservice to its readers on one of the most pressing issues of the day: illegal immigration and its impact on public safety and national security. Moreover, the paper ignores the financial and logistical burdens placed on state and local governments by this issue.

Unfortunately, the federal government is failing in its responsibility to protect our borders and control the flow of immigration. As a result, the governors of New Mexico and Arizona have declared their southern borders to be in a state of emergency, and “volunteers” prepare to patrol the Mexican border.

As a result of failed immigration polices and lack of enforcement, thousands of illegal immigrants cross into our country almost daily. Make no mistake, illegal immigrants are here because of the failure of federal immigration and border control policies. For The Times to imply that I think otherwise is outrageous.

We do not tolerate lawbreakers in Montgomery County. Just ask the gang members charged with the recent knife attacks in Silver Spring and Wheaton. They have been arrested and charged and are awaiting trial. Some of those involved in the attacks are here illegally and should face deportation once they have served time in Maryland for their crimes. That is assuming the federal government can do its job.

Like most Marylanders, I live in the real world, one in which everybody has a job to do and where we must deal with things as they are, not as some would wish them to be. In the real world, illegal immigrants come into our county because of a lack of priority attention given to this issue by the federal government. In the real world, illegal immigrants come to cities and towns all across America, and those of us at the local and state level must step in and address the problems presented to us by the shortcomings in the federal system.

However, local governments are not empowered constitutionally to deal directly with the problem, nor are they equipped financially to handle the scope of the crisis. For in the real world, local and state governments must and should provide residents of our communities with such basic services as education, fire and police protection, and health care.

I don’t know what The Times and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. are suggesting, but I don’t believe children — any children — should be denied an education and health care because of their parents’ actions. I don’t think Marylanders want an ambulance driver to ask for proof of citizenship before driving a heart attack victim to the hospital, or a fireman to ask for papers before turning on the hose.

Perhaps The Times would prefer to live in a world that would deny such basic human needs to residents of their community based upon the status of their citizenship or work visa. But one need not ponder long to imagine the public safety crisis that would ensue once literally thousands were denied basic care and were completely cut off from society.

Every level of government needs to do its job. Whether it is providing public education, writing traffic tickets or stopping illegal immigrants from entering this country, our society works best when each level of government is carrying its weight. Right now, when it comes to immigration, the federal government is not doing its part. Until the federal government gets it right, my colleagues and I at the state and local level will have to pick up the pieces.

DOUGLAS M. DUNCAN

Montgomery county executive

Rockville

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