MisinformationThe writer of the letter entitled "Angry...



The writer of the letter entitled "Angry Notch Baby" (July 21) is a victim of misinformation. The fact is that no Social Security recipient, past or present, receives less benefits than he or she is entitled to.

There are, however, some who receive more than they are entitled to. This came about in 1975 when Congress decided to add an automatic cost-of-living adjustment to Social Security benefits. Unfortunately, an erroneous formula was used to compute the benefit rates. Because of this flaw, retirees from 1910 and later received an unintended bonus -- in fact, a windfall.

The error was discovered and corrective measures taken in 1977. A five-year transitional period was provided during which benefit rates were gradually scaled down to reach the appropriate levels. Here is where the cries of the "Notch Babies" come in.

Ignorant and misled, exploited by politicians and other self-appointed champions of Social Security causes, they are instigated to demand their share of this erroneous windfall.

As a result, a bill has been introduced in Congress that in essence will restore and perpetuate this error, thus endangering the Social Security Trust Fund for future beneficiaries. If enacted, this would not be responsible legislation.

Karl Ritums


The writer is a retired social insurance specialist at the Social Security Administration.

Pat on the Back

The Perspective article, "Incident at Centennial Park," in The Sun of July 19, did a disservice to the graduates and residents of the Thomas O'Farrell Youth Center.

The rape in April 1991 cannot, and should not, be glossed over. If there were steps that could have been taken that might have prevented it, they have been taken.

What we should not do is judge all of the other boys at O'Farrell who have worked long and hard to turn their lives around by the actions of one.

It is unfortunate that we give so much attention to a negative act and so little recognition to the efforts of people who have helped so many kids.

A recent study of graduates of the Thomas O'Farrell Youth Center showed that most of them had not been again referred to the juvenile or adult court systems.

Many hold jobs. Some are completing high school while others earned high school equivalency diplomas at O'Farrell. They have become assets to their families and communities.

Graduates frequently return to the O'Farrell center to serve as examples to present residents.

Clearly these boys gained something from the O'Farrell program that they were able to put to good use.

There are many boys from the Thomas O'Farrell Youth Center who deserve a pat on the back for what they have accomplished, not a black eye for what someone else did.

Thomas V. Vassil


The writer is the chairman of the Thomas O'Farrell Youth Center Advisory Council.

Useful Creatures

As a person concerned with both the environment and the humans who inhabit it, I read with pleasure the article in The Sun's July 27 Maryland Business Weekly section concerning the horseshoe crab.

Liz Bowie reports, "Once the homely horseshoe was thought to be nearly useless to man . . ." Now, she writes, the blood from the crab (returned live to the ocean after its extraction) is being used to test drugs for human use.

How many other "useless" plants and animals may someday be discovered to have some utility to humans, and therefore are worth preserving for the future?

Maybe we could think of these potentially "valuable" life-forms as comprising an interim category somewhere between useless and useful, such as "expressions of the creativity of the universe" or maybe just "universe-art." It couldn't hurt.

Cathy Myrowitz



Your front-page article on July 19 about insurers cutting maternity stays brings up concerns.

The article quotes doctors as saying that discharge after 24 hours (following uncomplicated delivery) is "criminal," "insane" and "crazy." Reasons cited were mothers in tears, who haven't learned to bathe the baby, who haven't learned to breast-feed, ++ who may not come back for follow-up care, and parents expected to do jobs that require medical training.

A woman pregnant for the first time may well read this and feel incapable of caring for her child. Therein lies the problem.

You are perpetuating the myth that we cannot take care of our babies unless we are taught to do so by doctors and nurses during a two- or three-day hospital stay. Nonsense.

Too many people expect all the right information to be just handed to them. If you were going to sell your house, would you wait for a real estate agent to find you or would you go out and get one yourself? If you needed a new appliance, would you hope a salesman knocked at your door or would you shop around?

If you want up-to-date information about child care, birth and breast-feeding, go out and get it during the nine months you are pregnant. Waiting until the 24 hours following birth is ridiculous.

I applaud insurance companies for mandating shorter stays. Now it's time for hospitals to work to keep mothers and babies together for those first 24 hours (unless there are complications).

And it's time for parents to acknowledge that the baby doesn't become their responsibility upon discharge, but from the moment of birth (from conception on, to be specific).

Let's educate ourselves. We must realize that we can birth without all the interventions that cause women to feel so miserable afterward (drugs, stitches, etc). Once we do that, more women will feel well enough to go home sooner. (I speak from experience.)

Emergencies and complications are not the norm. Women need to know that they are perfectly capable of caring for their babies.

Katie Torrey


Liberalism Alive and Well in Democratic Party

The Democratic National Convention represented two complimentary and overlapping segments of the current Democratic Party -- liberals and political opportunists.

The liberal agenda was promoted throughout the convention by liberal icons Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Mario Cuomo and Jimmy Carter. All of these "souls of the Democratic Party" were able to advocate their brain-dead, anti-free enterprise theories of redistribution of wealth, equality of outcome and blame-America-first foreign policy.

With speakers and leaders such as these, Americans should understand that liberalism within the Democratic Party is alive and well.

The political opportunistic segment at the convention was also prominent. Leading this segment is the new brand of leaders, Gov. Bill Clinton and Sen. Al Gore. These two have been planning their coronations as Democratic Party standard bearers for decades.

Nowhere in Mr. Clinton's acceptance speech -- nor in his overall policy speeches -- are there any bold approaches to solving the country's current economic dilemma. Basically, the Clinton plan calls for higher taxes on the "rich" and more federal spending on the cities. There is no serious analysis in the Clinton plan as to how to resolve the budget deficit nor any bold plan for private growth and incentives needed to invigorate the economy. All we get is rhetoric, political opportunism and old-fashioned liberalism.

Finally, there could be further potential damage to the country if Bill Clinton is elected president and both houses of Congress are elected with Democratic majorities.

The last time the country had a Democratic Congress serving with a Democratic president was during Jimmy Carter's administration.

That period was an unmitigated disaster for America, and we now face this prospect again.

Under this scenario, there would be no executive to counterbalance the special interests that are represented and protected by Congress.

America does require some reform and growth incentives to propel her economic engine. America does not need political opportunism, liberalism and inexperience at its helm.

So, after a little thought, the verdict is thumbs down to Mr. Clinton.

Gregory Rusovich


Rates Gender

Should the owner of a brick house pay the same fire insurance rate as one who owns a frame house? Of course not.

That is why unisex pricing for life and auto insurance will force many policy holders to purchase policies in other states to get cheaper premiums.

My co-workers and I were forced to travel out of Maryland in 1964 to acquire variable annuity policies. Maryland did not approve such policies until several years later.

Let Montana retain insurance by gender. Maryland is already noted for high taxes. Why look for other problems?

Howard G. Scheidle


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