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There are simple ways to fix Social Security

Social Security is not a Ponzi scheme, and it is not a funded pension plan. The key principle behind it has been in place since the beginning of civilization; the young take care of the old. Social Security monetizes that principle.

Sixty-five is no longer old, and the ratio of young to old has drastically changed, thus Social Security has problems. When it was founded, 65 was close to the average life expectancy and there were so many young people in the work force that there was a surplus even though seniors who had paid in very little were covered. But the surplus was not sufficient to make this a fully funded plan.

The obvious solution: 1.) Cap the tax rate at its present level. 2.) Increase the retirement age as life expectancy increases. The ratio of years worked to years retired should be constant. 3.) Adjust benefits to balance with revenue. Once the trust funds are all consumed, the benefits paid in any year should be the amount computed under the present system reduced proportionally for any shortfall.

Government actuaries could project what the benefits would be, so everyone could plan accordingly. The only tax increase that should even be considered is increasing the maximum earnings subject to Social Security. This tax increase would result in higher benefits for those who pay the tax. Since those benefits would be paid by the next generation, this could help in the near future.

This problem really is not complex; the above solution was explained in the limited space allowed in Everybody's Column. Why must politicians make everything so complex?

Leonard J. Almquist

Buffalo

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Don't buy a foreign car, complain there are no jobs

On Sept. 22, NeXt had a well-researched article advising young people how to buy a car. But nowhere did it suggest to buy American. Many of the cars are made overseas. It's ironic when our young people buy cars made by foreign workers, then are the first to complain that they can't find a job.

Lyman Lowrey

Elma

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Palestinian people deserve statehood

As Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas seeks membership in the United Nations, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu labels this a damaging unilateral strategy, accusing Abbas of dodging direct talks. For two decades, the Palestinians have engaged in a diplomatic process, mediated by Washington, aimed at ending the Israeli occupation and achieving full Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza. During this period, Israel has continued to illegally transfer its population into occupied Palestinian territory. Netanyahu heads a coalition government whose only common denominator is a commitment to settlement expansion, holding on to occupied territory, and opposition to serious negotiations with the Palestinians.

There is little sense in the Arab world or among Palestinians that the United States has a constructive role to play in resolving this conflict. For 20 years, the peace process has succeeded in doing one thing better than anything else -- giving Israel every incentive to maintain its occupation. What we know for sure is that Washington's insistence on a failed status quo has only proved costly for Palestinians and beneficial for Israel.

Washington must take this opportunity to re-evaluate its policies and recognize the importance of Palestinian membership in the United Nations. Because Washington has offered no viable new proposals, the least it can do is step aside and not hinder Saudi, European and moderate Arab efforts to advance Palestinian rights.

The Palestinian people deserve statehood and all that it entails: official recognition, endorsement by international organizations, the ability to deal with Israel on more equal footing and the opportunity to live in peace and security. Israel should see the Palestinian bid for statehood not as a threat, but as a chance to return to the negotiating table and prevent further conflict.

Peter A. Hazzan

Tonawanda

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Voters will be facing stark choice in 2012

There was an instructive moment during the Republican presidential debate held in Florida and sponsored in part by the tea party. The moderator posed a hypothetical question to Rep. Ron Paul: What should we do if a healthy 30-year-old who has decided not to buy health insurance suddenly requires significant hospital care and he cannot afford to pay for it? Paul responded that he would expect the young man's family, friends and church to step forward and pay the hospital bills. The moderator followed by asking: If there is no such support, should we let the man die? At this there were shouts of "yeah" from the audience. Everyone needs to take note of this.

All eligible voters have the right to vote as they choose, or not to vote at all. But I ask all voters to seriously consider their decision next year. The 2012 election may well have greater consequences than most national elections. Sadly, the tyranny of a minority has gained almost total control of the Republican Party. There are many who would advocate for the total dismantlement of all government "safety nets" and regulations. These people are convinced that everyone should take care of himself and never expect any help from government. They contend that government's only function is to protect property rights. We should take them at their word that they would let the hypothetical young man die if he couldn't pay for the treatment.

A year from now, we will be faced with a stark choice between two diametrically opposed political philosophies. Huge amounts of money will be spent. We need to ignore the campaign rhetoric and attack ads, and seriously ask ourselves what kind of country we want to live in.

Joseph R. Riggie

Kenmore

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Damage to churches comes as no surprise

The recent article about the crimes committed at various churches should not be surprising to anyone. To those inclined to do so, stealing from a church or damaging it is an easy touch. After all, why be afraid or respect a God we can't see or hear, and a God which our government says has no place in our schools or public buildings and which certain respected scientists say is a superstition?

Yet when disaster strikes, it seems we turn our eyes upward to this superstition and pray for help. In my humble opinion, it's a good idea to stay on good terms with those around us, because we never know when we may need them. Messing around with number one, whether we believe in him or not, is not such a good idea. After all, you can't really be sure, can you? To those who think otherwise, I would say, remember the last time you bet on a sure thing and lost?

Norman Machynski

Cheektowaga