Social Security needs protection from Congress
Social Security and Medicare should not be a part of the budget in the first place. Only Congress could get away with such Mickey Mouse accounting. Social Security is paid for out of the Social Security Trust Fund, funded by payroll taxes. Medicare is paid for by a deduction from our Social Security checks.
They say the trust fund will run out in 2037, but actually it has already run out. The money that should be there has been replaced by IOUs in the form of government bonds.
The only reason Congress and the president wanted to include the fund in with the general budget was to make receipts look better and to hide the fact that they were raiding the fund to pay for all the giveaways they use to secure reelection.
To get a handle on the budget, separate the fund from the budget and repay what has been taken out. The fund can easily be taken care of by doing away with the limit on payroll that is subject to FICA.
As for the general budget, I like the idea of a flat tax so that all people pay the same rate. Do away with loopholes and special-interest deductions. Also, do away with all these mindless programs Congress seems to create but never end.
I've written to my members of Congress with little results. The strongest message is to use our power at the ballot box.
Charles E. Williams
Regarding the ever-increasing possibility of Social Security benefits being reduced, this is the ultimate kick in the groin to every American who works or has worked.
How is it that we can send billions of dollars every year to aid countries who loathe us while we turn our backs on our own program that we Americans have worked to pay into our entire lives?
Isn't it time we step up, take control and give self-serving politicians the boot? Let's put some hard working folks with guts, perseverance, and rolled up sleeves in office serving the people, the way this country and our government was created to do. After all, we are the bosses.
Thank you so much for the Aug. 14 editorial about Congress paying back what it has "borrowed" from the Social Security Trust Fund. And for putting it in big, black headlines on the front of the Opinions section. This needs to be repeated as often as Republicans say "entitlements." Damn the lies of Sen. Mitch McConnell and his ilk.
Those of us who paid into the trust fund own it, and Congress has no right to do anything with it. It must remain what it was originally meant to be — an independent trust fund — so it can do what it was meant to do: fund retirement for its owners. If that's done, we seniors can depend on benefits indefinitely.
Lawrence E. Durr
Since his incredibly strong showing in the Iowa straw poll, the deliberate ignoring of Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul has been appalling. Coverage by both left- and right-wing media outlets mentions every candidate except Paul, even those who did not participate in the Iowa poll.
I was thrilled to see Jon Stewart's attention to him on his Daily Show. On the radio show, Wall Street Journal This Morning, Paul was referred to as "libertarian." While Paul strongly appeals to independent voters, he has been a Republican congressman for 33 years, ran as a Republican presidential candidate in the 2008 primary and is again a Republican presidential primary candidate.
In light of his conspicuous absence in the press, such a misstatement seems to go beyond journalistic incompetence to a deliberate attempt to mislead and confuse as to his standing as a legitimate candidate within the Republican Party.
This sabotage seems to be working. Many folks I know believe Paul ran as an independent in 2008 and have no idea that he nearly tied Michelle Bachmann for first place in last week's Iowa poll. If the purpose of the media is to keep people informed, they are failing. I wish journalists would have more respect for their audience and for the truth.
This is in regards to the Aug. 11 article about Attorney General Jack Conway's investigation of Sullivan College. It seems there's a big difference between Sullivan College asking staff for donations and the National Education Association forcing teachers to pay $10 more to the union to endorse President Barack Obama's reelection campaign.
Legal or not, I don't hear anyone from Conway's office saying this kind of extortion is unfair. Not only is the NEA endorsing a politician, it is endorsing Obama already and no one knows who he's going to be running against. Asking for a donation and forcibly taking one are two totally different things.
If someone has to explain this to Conway, then maybe we should get a new attorney general.
Allen L. Mullin Sr.
Don't cut fire protection
Every 23 seconds, a fire department responds to a fire somewhere in the United States. Every 87 seconds, a house fire is reported. Every two hours, someone dies in a house fire; every hour, two people are burned or disfigured. Every minute, a fire doubles in size, demanding a quick and efficient response.
Whether on a local or national level, political leaders should not gamble with reducing public-safety personnel or neglecting public safety.
Fire departments are understaffed and under attack to downsize. If a fire department can't extinguish or control a fire quickly in a restaurant, retail center, office complex, commercial or industrial structure, how many people could be out of work? The economic impact could be devastating and worse, lives lost.
Fire departments keep the public safe through prevention efforts and by developing plans for the simplest emergencies to the most complicated. Many hours of research go into public safety, from many sources. The quality of fire protection also determines part of the insurance premiums paid by homeowners and businesses.
Emergencies never take the day off, even in a bad economy. Citizens should be able to rely on emergency medical services and fire and police departments. Most city leaders want to grow their populations; however decreasing public safety is an extremely dangerous plan with disaster waiting on the horizon.
The tragedy is not only when a disaster happens, it's also a tragedy when it could have been avoided.
Loss to journalism
Lexington has lost a fine citizen, and journalism has lost a great practitioner of our profession with the death of Creed Black.
The former Herald-Leader publisher set high standards; he tried always to help his community; he wanted the best for all of us, both as publisher and as a foundation executive. Neither was an easy job. That he did both so well may be his everlasting tribute.
I knew him as a competitor and a colleague and I will miss him greatly.
Retired Vice President-News, WKYT-TV
Steve Wilson's Friday tribute to Creed Black was well done. It brought good memories of our days at The Leader.
Black was an experienced newspaperman and a demanding boss, quick to criticize when you were wrong and equally quick to commend when you did an above-average job.
He was proud of the new building when we moved in 1980, and the moving day saw Creed and I among the first in the new place; we had adjoining offices. About lunchtime, Creed strolled in and asked how I liked my new office. My reply was very positive, and he came back with "Let's go to lunch to commemorate."
After a two-martini celebratory lunch we came back to work as if we had been at Main and Midland all our professional lives.
William J. Hanna
Focus on jobs, not debt
Sen. Rand Paul is wrong. Debt is not our No. 1 problem right now. On this issue, the markets know more than the politicians.
United States treasury bonds are trading near all-time low interest rates. If our debt levels were really unsustainable compared with the size of our economy, the U.S. government would not be able to borrow money so cheaply.
In countries with real debt problems, the bond markets have always reflected the problem first.
Washington needs to take care of real problems, like the 14 million unemployed Americans and tens of millions more without any health insurance, instead of continuing the Chicken Little act on debt.
Coach deserves better
I am a longtime supporter of University of Kentucky football and a personal friend of former coach Rich Brooks. In John Clay's July 24 column, "Compass Bowl was excellent wake-up call," I took exception with a comment Clay made, which stated, "The guess here is that complacency invaded the habitat, that even under a new coach Kentucky had grown too comfortable with its bowl-per-season status, even if that bowl was on one of the lower rungs of the post-season ladder."
I am extremely upset that Clay put the complacency on Rich Brooks, and I don't recall seeing Brooks on the sideline or in the coaching booth during that game. I was around the program enough under Brooks to tell you that if anyone was complacent, they were no longer on the team.
I have discussed this article with past players and they are in disbelief they would be accused of being complacent given that we did not win a bowl game in 21 years. Brooks took over a program torn apart by NCAA probation and guided it through one of the most successful runs in UK history. I just hope that in the future Brooks will be recognized and appreciated for what he brought to UK football instead of being used as a scapegoat.
Brett T. Setzer
I had been gone from Kentucky since 1982 before moving back in April. On Aug. 14, I picked up my first Herald-Leader since coming home. I like the Opinions & Ideas section and will keep it for reference. The editorial, "Pay back borrowed Social Security funds," was especially good. I will be a regular reader.