Letters to the editor on retirement age, paycheck freedom, wind energy, big spenders

02/28/2013 12:00 AM

02/27/2013 5:57 PM

Need to raise the retirement age

Mere spending cuts are not enough to ensure this nation’s financial security. Nor are new taxes, although both are needed.

Our elected officials need to make some deep reforms, the most important of which is raising the age when people start collecting lifetime federal benefits of all kinds.

Social Security and Medicare are obvious targets, but we also need to talk about civil service retirement, the military and benefits for former members of Congress.

The creators of Social Security and Medicare never anticipated so many people living well into their 80s and beyond. Age thresholds need to be raised at least three to five years. For those in poor health who can’t work longer, we already have a disability system in place that pays benefits until they reach Social Security eligibility.

The age of retirement eligibility also should be raised for all federal civil service employees. Many federal employees today are young enough to go straight from federal retirement into another career and build a second pension (frequently at another level of government).

Members of Congress should not be given retirement pay. These positions were never intended by our Founding Fathers to be career positions. If there must be a retirement plan, they should put themselves under the same retirement rules applied to the civil service.

These changes would take at least two decades to phase in fully. But if Congress makes these changes, the deficit will shrink without wrecking the economy.



Need freedom

I have listened to and read all the rhetoric for weeks now over House Bill 2023 and Senate Bill 109. As an educator for 34 years, I agree that I need freedom – freedom from an overly zealous Legislature, not from my choices on how I spend my money.

Senate Bill 109 states that “no public funds may be used directly or indirectly for lobbying.” As a teacher, I am paid with tax dollars, and I understand that. But when that check is made out to me every month, that money is now mine, not the state’s. So what right does the state have to tell me how I spend my money?

So if this legislation passes and is signed by Gov. Sam Brownback, let me give you a scenario to think about. Kansas state taxes are withheld from my paycheck, without my consent, and part of that money is used to pay the salaries of our Legislature and governor. I believe that all legislators and the governor “lobby” for certain legislation that they deem important. So by the words of this legislation, my state taxes should no longer be withheld from my paycheck because a small portion of it goes to lobby for political action. Send me a tax bill and I would be happy to pay you because, according to lawmakers’ own words, “it would be my choice.”

There are so many more important issues that need the attention of our Legislature and governor. Let’s drop the rhetoric and pettiness and get to work on the real issues, not the imaginary ones.



Wind competitive

“Wind energy is not competitive” (Feb. 18 Letters to the Editor) promoted natural gas and nuclear power over clean wind energy and opposed the renewable portfolio standard that encourages wind energy.

For decades, natural gas and nuclear energy have been heavily subsidized. The amount and duration of wind-energy subsidies are comparatively small.

Natural gas is now almost synonymous with fracking. In 2005, then-Vice President Dick Cheney obtained a fracking exemption from laws that keep our air and water clean. That exemption, called the “Halliburton loophole,” allows oil and gas companies to force toxic chemicals into our underground water supplies. Talk about an example of crony capitalism, and I won’t mention the recent earthquakes in Oklahoma and Arkansas. Natural-gas fracking is not good Earth stewardship.

Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi 2011 nuclear disaster should give pause to anyone promoting nuclear power. Northern Japan is still uninhabitable, and no one has volunteered to bury America’s nuclear waste in his own backyard. Nuclear energy is not good Earth stewardship.

Call me crazy, but I choose wind energy over natural gas and nuclear energy, and I support the RPS. From a stewardship perspective, wind energy is competitive.



Shape up

As a small-business owner, I am appalled at the way our elected officials (both Democrat and Republican) think they can continue spending money.

I have struggled to make ends meet for the past 20 years, but I have never looked for a handout or “bailout.” I have learned how to run my business on a shoestring budget, and I have been able to stay inside that budget, even during lean years.

I know that printing money is a felony and I could get 20 years in prison for doing it. Yet our politicians continue to spend, spend, spend without thinking about the effects of it. They are supposed to do what is best for our country, yet they only look out for their own interests.

America, it’s time to wake up and take our country back from the thieves in Washington, D.C. Tell your senators and congressmen to shape up or they will be shipped out in the next election.



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