Earnings limits are part of social contract...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Earnings limits are part of social contract between young, old

The Sun thinks it illogical and unfair to reduce benefits for those who work while collecting Social Security ("Incentive for seniors to continue to work," editorial March 21). Perhaps not.

In 1935, the country entered into an agreement with its citizens, under which each working person and his or her employer contributes a percentage of his or her salary to a Social Security system.

Retirement means lost wages. When a person retires, Social Security replaces, at least in part, his or her lost wages. If people continue to work, they have no need for Social Security; they have wages.

If a retiree does go back to work and receives wages again, what he or she earns on the job is subtracted from their benefits. That seems logical to me.

Maybe it is unfair to seek to remove these earnings limits. Why then retire at all, but just keeping working and at age 62 or 65 start collecting Social Security in addition to your wages? Is that fair?

Since the average person retiring now already collects more benefits than he or she has paid into the fund, additional monies are coming from our children and grandchildren.

Is that fair? Are there no limits as to what we take from them?

In 1935, many companies and some states were without pensions. The choice many faced was to work until you dropped dead or rely on their family for support.

Social Security is a system where we all contribute for the common good. That's more than an economic policy; it's a public trust.

Watering down this public trust is a high price to pay for a few dollars.

George E. Brown, Baltimore

After 'spring sweep,' citizens, media must keep city clean A "2,000 Broom Salute" to Mayor Martin O'Malley for the 2,000 tons of trash swept off our streets last weekend ("O'Malley helps do the dirty work," March 26).

But the mayor cannot do it alone; it's time for the citizens and visitors in our city to maintain the clean streets returned to us last weekend. It's also time for the media to step forward and begin an anti-litter advertising program. Remember "trashball" and other such programs years ago?

Let's work together with our mayor and keep Baltimore clean.

Robert N. Santoni Sr., Baltimore

Unchecked spending shows city schools are out of control

The city's public school system is totally out of control. The Sun's article "School contract balloons unchecked" (March 26) clearly shows its need for accountability.

Perhaps it is time to look at the composition of the school board. We need people who can not only raise test scores and expectations, but also be accountable for the millions of dollars spent.

This school board has been appealing to the governor for more money; yet its chairperson seems to be oblivious to some of the spending and work completed.

What does the board do -- hire people and give them a blank check? Why wasn't the public privy to these dealings?

It's time to focus resources on the classroom. The mayor and the governor need to join forces, demand accountability and focus on our students.

D. Lynne Ward, Baltimore

The Walters is proud to have its art grace mayor's office

In response to the letter ". . . he must check his own arrogance" (March 25), I can assure readers that we encountered no hint of arrogance on the part of Mayor Martin O'Malley or the members of his family who chose four 19-inch canvases from the Walters Art Gallery's reserve collection to enhance the mayor's private meeting room in City Hall.

I can also give assurances that these paintings are well cared-for.

And we at the Walters could not be more pleased that original works of art, which otherwise would rest in storage, will provide visitors from far and wide eloquent testimony in the mayor's office to his recognition and support for Baltimore's extraordinary cultural assets.

Gary Vikan,Baltimore

The writer is director of the Walters Art Gallery.

If tobacco is so harmful, why accept cigarette ads?

I was quite taken aback to see a full-page, color cigarette advertisement in The Sun's Live section on March 23.

On the same day, a Sun editorial referred to tobacco as an "unhealthy --and dangerous -- habit" ("Wrong way to spend tobacco settlement," March 23).

The editorial argued that money from the state's tobacco settlement should be spent to undo the damage done by cigarette smoking.

Why then does The Sun continue to carry cigarette advertising?

Fred Weiss, Baltimore

Legislation would limit danger from teen-age drivers

Thank you for The Sun's coverage of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health's study that confirms previous reports that the chance of a fatal crash rises significantly when 16- and 17-year-old drivers are transporting three or more teen-age passengers ("Passengers increase peril in teen driving," March 22).

The article referred to legislation that I introduced this year to limit the number of teen-age passengers to no more than two, when 16- or 17-year-old provisionally licensed drivers are behind the wheel and to require their passengers to buckle up.

For the record, I did not withdraw my bill. I combined it with similar legislation put forth by the General Assembly's task force on driver's education programs.

While the teen-age passenger limit language was removed in committee, we preserved what I believe is the bill's most valuable section, which requires all passengers of provisionally licensed drivers to buckle up.

This will, in effect, limit the passengers to the number of safety belts available.

If passed, this legislation will surely increase seat belt use among our most at-risk passengers and prevent many of the tragic deaths and injuries so frequently associated with teen driving.

William A. Bronrott, Annapolis

The writer represents Montgomery County in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Coverage of escape put hostages in jeopardy

Thankful that I am that the Dundalk hostage situation is over, I regret its deadly end. I could not believe the danger the hostages were put in by the media.

The lives of the hostages were jeopardized when the media announced their escape as it happened, knowing that Palczynski had been watching television news.

I hope in the future television station managers will consider the consequences before they turn on their cameras.

Andy Reidler, Eldersburg

The circus still thrills the young and the old

As I sat listening to my excited 3-year-old grandson tell me about seeing lions, tigers and elephants at the circus, I picked up The Sun and read the letter "Circus cruelty should be banned" (March 15).

If the writer doesn't want to attend the circus, fine; but millions of children and adults still enjoy this entertainment.

If the writer has too much time on her hands, I suggest she consider fighting to protect humans through stronger, better-enforced laws on gun control and safety.

Nora Rueter,Towson

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