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Honoring the struggle

When Style Weekly paid tribute to Mr. Charles Ellenbrand: "The Battle Lost" by Holly Timberline you honored every man and woman who fights the awesome fight with addiction (Remembrance, March 30). Some "win" day by day and others get a social promotion to a serenity we all can only hope for. Charlie saw both. I refuse to say he lost the battle.

Thank you for the dignity you bring to those in the throes of the struggle as well as those who know the joys of new life out of the ashes of addiction.

— Byron H Knight
Program Director
The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center

It's not Social Security that needs saving

After reading the April 27 Back Page of Style Weekly, I could not help but feel as though Donella Meadows did not have enough coffee the morning she wrote that piece about how saving Social Security is a false issue.

For those of us who are under 40, it is a very real issue indeed. Politicians nowadays may consider it a "third rail" issue, but 20 years from now the situation will be reversed. Future voters and those now entering the work force will not tolerate being taxed at a 50 percent-plus rate in order to support those folks a generation ahead of them.

What many people fail to realize is that Social Security is nothing more than an intergenerational Ponzi Scheme. Also, there is no "surplus" at all when future liabilities are factored into the equation. Although government leaders in both parties have done this to "mask" their deficits, it is absolutely wrong. If you obtained a cash advance on your credit card and then deposited the funds into your checking account, one could hardly call it surplus revenue. If any private brokerage house or financial institution established a retirement or investment system that functioned in a similar manner, it would be shut down by the government and its board of directors would be incarcerated for fraud.

Aside from being blatantly immoral and unconstitutional (retirement is not an established function of the federal government, as per Amendment 10), the Social Security system removes the ability of each worker to save for his or her own retirement. Most people would do far better under a privatized system than they do with the current mess.

There are many things wrong with our system, but the largest flaw is that you could work all your life (while paying into the system) and then die soon after leaving the work force. All your "investment" into this scheme is then forfeited — as you cannot "will" it to your heirs. Likewise, too many people who never paid into the system are allowed to bleed it dry. Which would you prefer as a free citizen, a $1,200 check every month or a million-dollar nest egg, which will provide you with enough money to enjoy retirement and allow you to leave something for your grandchildren? This will become more crucial as more people live longer after they retire.

The best way to truly "fix" the system is to privatize it gradually over the coming years. There is currently enough money to phase out the system so that the people in it can continue, and those yet born will be able to put their funds into various types of private investment accounts to ensure they have enough for their future.

By doing nothing now, while we have the ability to change it with the least amount of shock, we will either have to raise retirement age to over 70 or else saddle our children with a more than 60 percent tax burden.

The biggest opponents will be the social engineers, the bureaucrats and the leftists, each of who seeks as much government control of our lives as possible.

— Jeff H. Kleb Jr.

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