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Mailbag: Letters From Readers


June 17. 2013 11:10PM
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The Social Security ‘lie’ has only hurt citizens


In an effort to reduce the federal deficit, President Obama has proposed cutting Social Security cost-of-living adjustments by tying it to the Chained CPI (Consumer Price Index) in place of the existing CPI index.


According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, this index is an alternative to the established CPI which utilizes price comparisons of a broad range of consumer goods over an extended time. The CPI index includes the equivalent rental cost of existing housing prices and college tuitions along with apparel, transportation (cars) and utilities.


Housing prices and tuition skew the price adjustment model higher than necessary since a retired couple in most cases have paid off their house and are no longer burdened with college tuitions. Even more relevant is the fact that seniors are capable of making product choices and lifestyle adjustments that will fit more in line with their reduced income level.


These are some of the underlying factors that are incorporated in the revised Chained CPI model. Seniors will be receiving smaller increases in their Social Security checks, but not life-threatening benefit reductions. The majority of seniors still will enjoy a comfortable life with dignity. In any event, the proposal represents a miniscule reduction in the inflation adjustment, not a reduction in the benefit level. This measure is expected to reduce the national debt by as much as $230 billion.


This appears to be a rational proposal to start addressing a serious actuarial crisis in Social Security, which if left unchecked certainly will bankrupt the system and cause real and tragic hardship on future retirees.


Why has this modest proposal caused such an emotional firestorm? I believe the answer is that the Social Security system has been misrepresented to the American people from the beginning. The government has conveniently and cynically misled the people by comparing their Social Security contributions as an “investment,” similar to an annuity purchased from an insurance company that guarantees future monthly payments upon retirement. However, an insurance company must remain actuarially sound by investing the premiums paid to it and earn an investment return that will enable it to fund its obligations to clients.


The hard truth is that there is no guaranty that future payments will be made by the government. Should the government become fiscally unable to meet its obligations to the citizens, it will default, or most likely drastically reduce benefits.


The liberal establishment has consistently refused reform of Social Security or the implementation of alternative private pension schemes as a betrayal to seniors.


President Roosevelt cynically understood that funding Social Security with tax dollars would create an entitlement mentality (the I am only getting back what I put in mantra) that would make it politically impossible to reverse or reform the program. He was proven correct. It could have been responsibly adjusted decades ago with minimal impact on citizens and would have resulted in a solvent program, but the “third rail of American politics” mentality prevailed.


The American people were performed a disservice by a government that constantly kicked the can down the road for meaningful reform because of its political cowardice (Democrats and Republicans) and presented the social security system as a retirement fund (plan) as opposed to a minimal support fund to prevent destitution for which it was originally designed.


While many people genuinely need this income support to live, many others who could have put more money away for retirement decided to spend it now and have Social Security cover their needs. Senior citizens are not greedy. Rather we are all victims of our elected representatives who preferred to perpetuate the lie that Social Security was a solvent program for their political survival rather than speak the truth to the American people.


Nicholas Galasso

Milford, CT

Writer outlines dangers of exhaust from motorcycles


I amwriting to you as a concerned citizen. I have noticed an alarming increase in illegal aftermarket exhausts on all types of vehicles, particularly on motorcycles, and there are many ramifications and dangers.


My friends who compete off road told me that these exhausts were never meant to be ridden on city streets, but because the police do not enforce the laws, motorcycle owners think they are operating within the law. Pennsylvania state statute 172.052 states the motorcycle must be equipped with a muffler or effective noise-suppressing system in good working order and in constant operation, and; may not be equipped with a cutout, bypass or similar device and a muffler may not show signs of being tampered.


Motorcycle lobbies state “loud pipes save lives” but this has been debunked many times. Most accidents happen with motorcycles running into other vehicles and structures according to the National Transportation Association.


There is also a “Public Nuisance” law in the state of Pennsylvania.


The noise act of 1972 allows a citizen to sue this or her local government if the laws are not upheld. And EPA law CFR 40-205 states that obvious “excessive and unusual “ noise is probable cause for stopping and ticketing loud motorcycles. This has been upheld by the courts in State V Lara, and Everett V. O’Brien. The state statutes will always be upheld in court by anyone with extensive legal knowledge.


The University of Florida which did the first scientific study on decibel readings with regards to motorcycles found that out of 33 motorcycles they tested almost half, were more than 100 decibels. And, several even exceeded that level and came in at 119 decibels.


This is significant because the World Health Organization, OSHA, the Mayo Clinic state that hearing loss occurs with only a 15 minute exposure to noise over 100 decibels. They go on to state that noise levels over 110 will cause irreparable damage to your hearing capabilities and they do not currently have a way to repair this problem.


Children are the most vulnerable. The World Health Organization states the following health risks occur at high levels of decibels: learning impairment, quality of life, air and noise pollution, fatigue, hearing loss, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, sleep disturbance, vasoconstriction, tinnitus, changes in the immune system and birth defects to the unborn.


I encourage the public to voice its concerns with legislators and local government about this matter. These exhausts were never illegal but because of the apathy of the police departments the motorcycle owners have felt it is within legal limits and more and more of them are having these exhausts put on their motorcycles.


I do not dislike all vehicles. I have friends who compete off road and have extensive collections of antique motorcycles and they all say the same thing to me. They refer to the individuals who put these illegal exhausts on their motorcycles as the poster children of anti-noise and anti-motorcycle legislation. They have no place on the residential streets. I also do have anything against the charities that sponsor these rides because they are for very worthy causes.


But I do believe that each and everyone of us has the obligation to be a good neighbor and shouldn’t use the cause of a charity to allow others to break the laws and harm the general public.


t. A wealth of information can be found at the PACALM site on the internet.


Mary Anne Whitonis

Rice Township




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