Using fake crisis as excuse to ruin Social Security

The Sun's editorial on Social Security was right on the money, literally and figuratively, except in its credulous presumption of the Bush administration's sincerity ("Tread carefully," Dec. 19).

According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Social Security is on track to cover 100 percent of benefits until 2052.

President Bush says we must hasten to address that 48-year-off "crisis." But today he presides over the largest budget deficits in U.S. history. Sorry, it doesn't add up.

Mr. Bush's private accounts scheme is right out of his Iraq playbook.

The strategy is twofold: Present distorted and fear-mongering arguments to build support for an otherwise unpopular initiative and hide the real agenda.

President Bush's manipulation of and disrespect for the polity is prima facie evidence of bad faith. So let's look behind the folksy grin.

What our president and his corps of multimillionaire ideologues really want is to dismantle the most successful social program in our history.

The plan with which they intend to replace it is snake oil.

Daniel Fleisher


Doomsayers imperil well-being of seniors

President Bush's claim that Social Security is in crisis is as phony as his use of imaginary weapons of mass destruction to justify his war of choice in Iraq ("Tread carefully," editorial, Dec. 19).

Republicans opposed Social Security when it was created in 1935 and have never given up the hope of getting rid of it.

Their warnings that Social Security will "go broke" will become a self-fulfilling prophecy if they succeed in diverting trust funds into private stock market investments.

Instead of weakening the program with this privatization scheme, the administration should be thinking of the minor steps to ensure the long-term solvency of the system.

A good start would be to apply the payroll tax to income above $89,000 a year, which is currently exempt from it.

A large majority of the elderly and disabled population would be impoverished without Social Security.

Raymond S. Gill


Imposing orthodoxy on dissident towns

The Social Security Administration is rejecting all marriage documents from communities that have performed weddings for gay couples, even those for heterosexual couples ("Social Security rejects N.Y. marriage documents," Dec. 20).

Postponing for the moment the question of why the documents of gay couples are being rejected, there is not justification for not recognizing the marriages of heterosexual couples -- except for the desire of the power-intoxicated Republican administration to punish any branch of government at any level that does not get in lockstep with the special orthodoxy espoused by the president.

Stanley W. Krohn


'Happy Holidays' is good for business

Isn't it a bit paranoid to call a changed slogan an attempt to "obliterate" religion ("Conservatives campaign for religious meaning of Christmas," Dec. 19)?

Businesses make money by appealing to as many people as possible. Approximately one-quarter of the nation is non-Christian, or about 70 million consumers -- and that's a big number.

A change of two words -- from "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays" -- should not be blamed on secularists but on executives.

Business leaders are guessing, probably correctly, that they can attract a greater portion of the population with a more general slogan.

Nobody is trying to remove religion from American life. Business are just doing what businesses do -- trying to make money.

People striving for profits should not be labeled as people trying to secularize America.

Bradley Oppenheimer

Owings Mills

'Wire' taps yearning for artistic drama

David Zurawik's insightful, stirring review of the HBO series The Wire made me feel that my devotion to watching it every Sunday night it aired was justified ("With backdrop of uncertainty, 'Wire' taps into sadness, hope," Dec. 18).

The Wire is superb television and truly artistic drama.

Paul Edgar


Gritty shows give Baltimore bad name

There is a dirty little secret among all of us working in local film and television. The secret is that while we really need the work that Homicide, The Corner and The Wire have brought in, we quietly admit to each other that these shows have made Baltimore look really, really bad.

The image these shows give the world is that Baltimore is "Crime and Drug Town, U.S.A." ("With backdrop of uncertainty, 'Wire' taps into sadness, hope," Dec. 18)

If The Wire gets canceled, it would be a shame for the Baltimore entertainment business, but it wouldn't be a bad day for Baltimore.

We have a lot of talent here. We could certainly create a drama that doesn't give Baltimore a black eye.

Kim Masimo


In-flight cell phones only add to rudeness

There isn't much Ellen Goodman writes that I agree with, but she is dead on about the Federal Communications Commission's consideration of allowing the use of cell phones on commercial airline flights ("With cell phones on planes, say goodbye to friendly skies," Opinion Commentary, Dec. 20).

Our society has become so "in your face" and so lacking in civility that I am often embarrassed for the people who insist on using cell phones in cramped spaces.

Technology is great. But when it imposes on other people, is it really helping?

Where does it say that someone has a right to be on the phone at any time?

There is a reason there were once phone booths. It's too bad they are mostly a memory.

John Burke


Bush is fully aware of need for resolve

I found Michael Hill's article "Recalling America's sacrifices in WWII" (Dec. 19) both interesting and informative.

But I thought David Segal's suggestion that Adolf Hitler's isolation is similar to President Bush's situation was insulting and ill-conceived.

With the exhaustive coverage by the press and television media, it would be impossible for any president to be detached or removed from this or any other situation.

I would suggest that Mr. Bush, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt, understands exactly what the situation is and how important it is for the president to remain resolved to see this war through to a successful conclusion.

Joe Casey


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