Social Security does not need Rand Paul's fixing
The latest group of Tea Party Republicans came into office promising to "fix Social Security."
So what exactly do they have in mind? Turns out they want to slash benefits to future retirees to reduce the deficit.
In fact, Social Security is funded by a dedicated tax — the FICA tax. In 1983, the Greenspan Commission made changes to Social Security to keep it solvent. That is why FICA tax collections have run a surplus for the past 30 years.
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By law, the Social Security surplus, presently $2.6 trillion, is invested in special government bonds that pay interest into the trust fund. As the 1983 Greenspan Commission projected, FICA tax collections will exceed payout around the year 2020. At that point the Social Security trust fund will have a surplus of over $3 trillion.
Application of the surplus, plus FICA taxes will be sufficient to pay benefits for the next 20-odd years, at which time the trust fund will be exhausted. Even then, FICA tax collections would still be able to pay out almost 80 percent of benefits for the next 15 to 25 years.
Some small adjustments such as increasing wages subject to FICA taxes and means testing for very high-income individuals would be enough to increase the solvency of Social Security into the next century.
Social Security may need some tweaking around the edges. It does not need the fixing that Sen. Rand Paul and his cohorts have in mind.
Coyotes run wild
It is gratifying to read a letter expressing appreciation for wildlife ("Where did coyotes go?," Feb. 5), but there is an apparent lack of understanding of our native habitat and its inhabitants.
When development occurs, wild animals are not relocated, humanely or otherwise. Coyotes and other wild animals go where they choose, guided by their needs for food and shelter. Many have become well adapted to urban and suburban environments.
In fact, improved development standards and practices have facilitated this phenomenon. Coyotes are an intrusive species that originated west of the Mississippi River. Interestingly, our native red wolf prevented this expansion until hunted to extinction in our state.
Coyotes are not vermin but are classified as varmints by our state wildlife agency. They have adapted very well and are present virtually everywhere in Kentucky.
Coyotes cause tremendous damage to our farmers' livestock and have a negative impact on our native wildlife. They compete with and hunt our native red fox, for instance, and that is one reason for that species' decline. Although admirable for their ability to survive, coyotes do not belong in Kentucky. The only good they have done is to hunt house cats, another intrusive foreign species poorly managed by humans.
A strong leader
I'm voting for David Williams because Kentucky needs a strong governor who has core values.
Over the past few years our state has struggled, as many have, with reduced revenue because of a slow economy. However, some states have done better because they have made fundamental changes to the way they do business.
Instead of moving Kentucky in a more business-friendly direction like our neighbor Tennessee, Gov. Steve Beshear bet all of our futures on bringing gambling casinos to Kentucky, even against the will of the majority of citizens. Williams was able to stop that terribly misguided plan, at great personal and political risk to himself, to do the right thing.
Kentuckians are better off without casino gambling. I know some horsemen think otherwise, but the better solution, the long-term solution, is major tax reform and related job-growth policies as proposed by Williams to help all ships rise.
I challenge any horseman to ask those states that have had casinos for a long time if the gravy train is still on track. The dirty little secret is casinos have pushed out the horsemen at smaller tracks and now those are just casinos. Do the horsemen want Turfway as a casino? It would be that in a few short years, just like in the other states that were dazzled by the promise of easy money.
We need Williams to take Kentucky in the right direction.
I've been operating under the American free-enterprise system for only 66 years. However, my experience has been much different than in the "Capitalism needs reform" letter (Jan. 27).
I can't imagine any other system whereby a "nobody" from a lower socioeconomic class, with no connections, and brought up in a culturally deprived environment, could be given the chance for success. Because of free enterprise I was able to complete college, provide a good living for my family and experience things I had never dreamed attainable as a child. Of course, these benefits came with a price; it's called hard work. I completed college while working 60 hours a week, and once into management, 80- to 90-hour weeks were not out of the ordinary.
Many of my fellow workers had the same experience, so mine was not extraordinary. If one is willing to work hard, the American free-enterprise system is the fairest and most rewarding under which to operate. Unfortunately, far too many people think that "putting in" a 40-hour work week is working hard, and then they blame the system when they don't receive all they want.
The letter posits "no prospects for the future." Sorry, but one's prospects are limited only by one's imagination and willingness to work for what one wants.
As for the other ills: Socialist nations have exceeded America's "poisoning of air, water and soil," "workplace injuries, inadequate homes, education, and medical care" and "wars and interventions."
You reported the story of mysterious bird deaths, several thousand in Arkansas, Louisiana and Kentucky.
To put that in perspective, food for thought from NaturalNews.com: the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported that in 2009 it had intentionally killed/euthanized 1,046,000 brown-headed cowbirds, 1,259,000 European starlings, 965,000 red-winged black birds, 24,500 Canadian geese (illegal immigrants!), 109,000 grackles, 96,000 pigeons, 66,000 mannikins, 21,000 gulls, 3,000 ducks, 3,300 egrets, 615 herons, 4,500 coots, 4,000 mynas, 1,000 larks, 1,500 killdeer, 4,000 cardinals, 6,300 finches, 2,800 red avadavats, 17,000 cormorants, 10,000 crows, 23,000 sparrows, 50,000 doves, 600 parakeets, 240 owls, 593 red-tailed hawks, 4,100 vultures, 43,000 foxes, 22,000 squirrels, 12,000 prairie dogs, 27,000 beavers, 1,900 woodchucks (how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if he's dead?), 1,700 bobcats, 81,000 coyotes, 478 gray wolves, 336 mountain lions, 391 badgers, 436 black bears, 123 armadillos, 113 porcupines ... 4,120,295 creatures killed or euthanized in 2009.
Better living through wildlife management, www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/index.shtml