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Originally published Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Letters to the editor

A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

Money matters

Don't count on Grandma to come along and add to this trust fund

Economist Dean Baker tells us to sit tight until 2030, and if we then see a problem, we can do something ["Don't fall for Bush's Social Security scare," Times, Opinion, March 30]. He tells us that Social Security Trust Funds are the solution. I'm not sure where Baker is getting his information, but someone should inform him that the trust fund he is counting on is long gone, spent when collected to run the government day to day. The funds he is counting on do not exist. In eight, maybe nine years when Social Security payout begins to exceed income, the government will be forced to do one or more of the following: reduce and/or change benefits; increase the deficit to maintain benefits; raise taxes.

We do not need to wait until 2030; the problem is with us long before then. If we do nothing, as Baker suggests, in 12 years the Social Security payout will a negative $100 billion. By 2025, it's negative by close to $300 billion and by the magic Baker year of 2030, it's a negative payout of half a trillion. This, of course, will never happen since the twenty- and thirty-somethings stuck with the bill will rebel long before, as well they should.

Bottom line: It's late. We should have already faced reality, and few who represent us today in Washington appear willing to address the problem. The subject is on the next president's desk whether he or she wants it to be or not.

— Robert Spanfelner,

Bainbridge Island

Seriously, we must fix Social Security now

Syndicated columnist Froma Harrop made a couple of bold, but false steps in suggesting that we shouldn't worry about the future of Social Security. First, if Social Security is in good shape, why should we consider asking future generations to work longer before receiving benefits? Raising the retirement age is a temporary fix that unfairly impacts young workers, and it is strange that Harrop would advocate for such a change unless there really is a problem.

Second, the problem reiterated in this year's Social Security Trustees Report is the same one that a different set of trustees under President Clinton warned about in 2000: "In view of the size of the financial shortfall in the OASDI (Social Security) program over the next 75 years, we again urge that the long-range deficits of both the OASI and DI Trust Funds be addressed in a timely way."

It's time for people to start taking the trustees seriously. It's time to fix Social Security.

— Elizabeth Morgan, national coordinator, Students for Saving Social Security, Sammamish

10 months suddenly seems like forever

With all of the nation's attention on the state of our ailing economy, we should heed the similar warning signs concerning the state of our federal government. As with the economy, the cost of government's failures will be shouldered by taxpayers for a long time, so major reversals of policy should be conducted and safeguards should be put in place to prevent the same failures in the future.

We, the people, already have a major damage-control tool given to us in the Constitution: impeachment. Even if the congressional votes to impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney aren't there now, that will change once the process has begun and the public's awareness is heightened of the damage that they will be paying for in the years to come.

The longer we wait to begin impeachment, the more the principal and interest grow on our impending debt, due to the recklessness of the worst administration in history. If we think in terms of the present economy, isn't 10 months too long to let something like this go on?

— Jack Bolton, Seattle

There is a way to rein in selfish, greedy bankers

The Bush administration's proposed changes to the U.S. banking system are nothing more than a political stunt to appear to be doing something to solve the problem ["Critics of overhaul plan line up," News, March 31].

After the Great Depression, as a result of banks gambling with depositors' money and losing big time, Congress passed the Glass-Steagall Act. It regulated and controlled the greedy behavior of banking and financial managers.

The Republicans deregulated banking, securities and mortgage-lending institutions, starting with Ronald Reagan and continuing after taking control of Congress in 1995, leading to this debacle. Now they want to fix it by creating more bureaucracy?

Why not simply reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act and put back in place that which worked for more than 70 years? This would reign in the greedy, selfish behavior of those in our financial institutions and give us a stable financial system again.

— Michael T. Barr, Sammamish

Toy story

Put the kids ahead of the businesses

The gist of Nicole Brodeur's column "Don't toy with this industry" [Local News, March 28] is that we shouldn't be afraid of toys that may be harmful to children; after all, we all played with the same toys when we were growing up, and we turned out OK, right?

On a personal level, I agree with this argument. However, Brodeur then tries to convince us that we should be afraid that businesses in our state will be dramatically affected. Don't worry about the kids, take pity on the business owner. I don't buy it. Europe passed a ban on toys with the chemical phthalate in 1999, but their toy industry didn't collapse. According to the trade group Toy Industries of Europe, from 2002-04, European toy-industry sales grew by 5 percent, to nearly $20 billion annually.

In response to the European ban, China created two assembly lines for toys: one line doesn't include phthalates and is bound for Europe, Argentina, Japan and Canada, and the other includes phthalates and is shipped to the United States.

Brodeur says that "we don't want to be the only ones to say no." Why not? There is no leadership in the other Washington. I think Gov. Christine Gregoire should show leadership in this Washington and put kids' interests ahead of businesses'.

— Lisa Osse, Kirkland

Road rage

It's a simple concept: Red light means stop

Will someone please give us a logical explanation as to why drivers should have a grace period of 30 days or more to adjust their so-called driving habits because of the installation of red-light cameras? ["Bellevue to install red-light cameras," Local News, March 26.] How did these people pass a driving test in the first place?

Learning that a red light means stop is in all written and practical tests to qualify for a license. If their ability to remember that very simple detail has left their memory bank, they do not deserve the privilege of driving — ever.

— Gail Hoover, Redmond

Highway gets wider, roads get shorted

The forthcoming lifting of the BNSF track at Wilburton, to allow the state to widen Interstate 405 at a lower cost, will be another victory of road over rail. No one questions whether the plan is legal, or asks who gave the state permission to destroy such an immense asset as an existing rail route up the Eastside.

Does an increase in highway lanes justify even this outrage?

— Ross Nicoll, Kirkland

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