Monday, May 30, 2005

Push back the retirement age?

Bruce Bartlett’s Wednesday Commentary column, “Setting a realistic retirement age,” presents an acceptable view of the need for a change in the retirement age for Social Security. I am in favor of it, but there is one big hitch as I see it.

The success of this venture relies on the opportunity for folks to continue to work past 65 years of age. Until the corporate world realizes that a person should not be relegated to the old folks home after age 45, this will not work.

Fortunately, there are some opportunities for older people. I am 78 years old and work every day because I am able to do what my employer needs. At age 65, I had just completed three years in Indonesia and five years in Saudi Arabia in the construction business and was considered valuable. I then was asked to return to Saudi Arabia by a major company. What is sad about this is that not too many companies are willing to hire and keep people past age 45 to 50.

The volunteer organization called 40 Plus is thriving, attempting to place folks of “retirement age.” Only employers can put it out of business — by recognizing that experience, ability and loyalty trump age. Otherwise, it is folly to raise the retirement age and leave seniors without Social Security, unemployed and unable to support themselves.


Livingston, Texas

Islamists in Bangladesh

With reference to Bangladesh Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan’s interview (?Official links nation’s stability to women’s rights,? World, Wednesday), I commend Mr. Khan’s stout defense of his government’s noticeable achievements in several social sectors.

What was missing, understandably, was the minister’s refusal to acknowledge the literally deadly effect that the increasingly powerful Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh party, a partner in Mr. Khan’s coalition government, is having on Bangladesh’s polity. Since the current government came to office in the fall of 2001, scores of prominent members of the secular intelligentsia have been killed, hundreds injured, many exiled and a few jailed. The same shadowy perpetrators of these heinous acts, emboldened by official silence, continue to wage a terror campaign of bombings against the icons of secular Bengali culture: tombs of Sufi mystics, drama theaters and college cinema shows.

It is little wonder that my original homeland, where Mr. Khan’s democratic government rules by appeasing Islamist militants, has been placed on a watch list by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.


Wichita, Kan.

Moderate Muslim intellectuals

Joel Mowbray’s Op-Ed ?Moderate Muslims blaze new path? (May 24) notes that the Free Muslims Coalition’s March Against Terrorism attracted 150 people. Intellectuals are supposed to bring up issues of needed reforms in their societies and professors are supposed to profess. There are significantly more than 150 Muslim professors in the United States. It is interesting that hardly any of them has publicly condemned Islamic terrorist groups, joined FMC or even offered support for Amina Wadud, the Virginia Commonwealth University professor who leads a mixed-sex Muslim prayer service.

A media investigation of increasing Islamic radicalism on campuses nationwide is called for. A law that requires law-enforcement certification that a green card or citizenship applicant has not supported or funded Islamic terrorist groups in the past is needed. Last but not least, an immediate moratorium on immigrants from Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen under the U.S. diversity visa lottery is essential for homeland security.


Visiting Professor of Finance

College of Business Administration

Butler University


‘Exceptional’ intelligence schools

Jerry Seper’s story on illegals and Fort Huachuca was informative (?Army base plagued by illegals’ intrusions,? Nation, Wednesday), but I take issue with his references to Fort Huachuca as ?home to the country’s premier military intelligence school.? As a retired Naval Intelligence officer with nearly 40 years experience in intelligence including training, I object to his ascription of supremacy to Fort Huachuca. The Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center at Dam Neck, Va., and the Air Force Intelligence Training Center at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas also provide outstanding intelligence training. Each center focuses on service requirements and joint intelligence. All are exceptional. There is no ?premier military intelligence school.?



A uniformed Lynndie England is a travesty

It pains me to see Army Pfc. Lynndie England dressed in military fatigues for each of her many appearances in court, seeking to portray herself as an esteemed member in good standing of our armed forces when in fact she will never again have any association with the military and is an embarrassment and disgrace to it and to all Americans (?Pfc. England waives right to hearing on Abu Ghraib,? Nation, Wednesday).

The sooner Pfc. England goes to jail, the better, and how thankful she shall be that her guards surely will not act in the maniacal manner she did with those in her charge. She can also find consolation in that, unlike many ex-cons, she could have bright post-prison job prospects. Surely a pornographer would be able to place her in a well-paying position as a dominatrix after she pays her debt to society.


Upper St. Clair, Pa.

Halfway to a reasonable sex-ed policy

Regarding “County schools ditch sex-ed class” (Metropolitan, May 24), Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum approves the resolutions adopted by the Montgomery County Board of Education. However, we wonder why, despite hundreds of letters, 4,000 petition signatures against the curriculum, dozens of statements and detailed objections by medical experts, it took a federal lawsuit to convince the board to do the right thing.

At the board meeting May 23, Superintendent Jerry D. Weast indicated that the whole nation and other superintendents are watching how Montgomery County handles this situation. We would add that parents on both sides of this issue are watching as well. The decisions made here will be felt across the country. Considering this national spotlight, the board should keep in mind that respecting parents’ wishes in this highly sensitive area is no longer an option but a mandate.

If solutions are what we’re all looking for, then we’re halfway there. Before the curriculum can be rewritten, a balanced citizen advisory committee that is committed to respecting the values of all parents and citizens in this community and is open to a range of professional advice on this controversial issue needs to be in place. This is vital. The tightly controlled nature of this committee in the past was vastly responsible for the production of a one-sided curriculum that was more indoctrination than education.


Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum

Montgomery Village

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