A federal plan that works


Aug. 14 is the 75th anniversary of the start of Social Security. Its existence shows that our government can do some things well.

As a retiree who adovcates for senior rights and benefits, I visit senior centers, churches, and retiree facilities to help senior citizens understand Social Security and what it does for older Americans.

Social Security has been the lifeblood of people age 65 and older. Without monthly Social Security payments, nearly half of Americans over 65 would live in poverty.

About 160 million workers contribute to Social Security through payroll tax. According to the Alliance for Retired Americans, 53 million Americans receive monthly benefits, 34 million receive retirement benefits and 4.3 million get surviving-spouses' benefits. Another 9 million disabled workers and their dependents, and 6.5 million children under 18, also receive benefits.

Help us celebrate this successful government program, which is run by fine people who care about senior citizens.

Sam Burnett

Robin Road

Expiring tax cuts will hike taxes

Allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire is equivalent to raising taxes (“Care on tax cuts,” editorial, Aug. 1).

Only money in the private sector grows the economy. Money in the public sector shrinks the economy. A drop in tax rates stimulates the economy and increases tax revenues.

Terry Sommers

Hill Avenue

Car aid makes it hard to back TPS

Toledo Schools Superintendent Jerome Pecko is driving his new Jeep Liberty while he touts Toledo Public Schools' 7.8-mill levy on the November ballot to hard-hit taxpayers, many of whom have lost their jobs, their homes, and their dignity.

It's a slap in the face to read that not only does he get a salary of $175,000 a year, plus benefits, he also gets a $500 a month car allowance (“TPS chief vows changes if levy wins,” Aug. 3).

Why would anyone who earns $175,000 a year need a $500 a month car allowance funded by a struggling school district?

Robert Slasinski

Kingsbury Avenue

Rangel will get wrist slapped

U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) faces charges and a possible trial before the House Ethics Committee (“Panel urges reprimand for Rangel's behavior,” July 31).

The latest report is that there is a deal in the works so he can avoid the embarrassment of a disastrous end to his career. That says a lot about Congress.

I want to make a prediction: Mr. Rangel will get a slap on the wrist, will not be tried on the charges against him, and will be re-elected. That's the way it is done in Washington.

John J. Burkhart

Eleanor Avenue

Whitmer ‘nation' boasts diversity

How desperate has The Blade become, to put an unfounded allegation against a local high school coach on the front page (“Basketball coach faces accusations of bias,” Aug. 1)?

Washington Local Schools is financially solvent, has an excellent rating, and is composed of hundreds of dedicated teachers, coaches, and administrators who do an outstanding job. They don't deserve an unfounded cheap shot that reflects on their efforts. I believe an apology is due.

If you would like to witness a model of true ethnic diversity, spirit, and cooperation from an entire community, I invite you to be a part of Whitmer Nation at Memorial Stadium on opening night of the 2010 football season at 7 p.m. on Aug. 27.

Brad Huebner

Tembroke Road

Volt cost is out of reach for many

It was unsurprising to see mainstream media hailing President Obama's recent visit to Detroit-area manufacturing facilities and his declaration that because of the bailout by his administration, the auto industry has been revived and critics must acknowledge they were wrong (“President rallies Detroit autoworkers, touts bailout,” July 31).

General Motors has developed the Chevrolet Volt, which, in combining electrical power with the standard gasoline-powered engine, will operate in a more environmentally friendly manner.

When the idea was first touted by former GM executive Bob Lutz, it was estimated the car would sell in the high $20,000 range. A few years later, the price tag is $41,000, with a $7,500 government rebate.

Unsubsidized, fuel-efficient models such as the Ford Focus, Honda Civic, and Toyota Corolla all sell for about half the proposed price of a Volt.

Automakers such as Volkswagen have used the combustion engine with turbochargers for the past several years. This system, while increasing engine and miles-per-gallon efficiency, also reduces emissions.

Along these lines, Ford is introducing an Eco-Boost engine in its models at a price significantly less than what GM proposes for the Volt.

For the sake of General Motors' long-term financial prosperity, after it pays back all the loaned money, I hope it can stand on its own. However, the $41,000 Volt with a government rebate may not be the answer this administration wants to see.

Don't be surprised in a few years if you see most Volts driving down the road with government license plates on them.

Jeff Kerst


Only savvy investors, please

Your Aug. 3 article “Analysts urge shift to First Solar options” stated that JPMorgan Chase & Co. recommended selling First Solar Inc. common stock and using those proceeds to purchase $125 December call options.

The buyer of a call option has the right to buy 100 shares of the underlying stock (in this case First Solar) at the stated exercise price ($125) at any time before the option expires — in this case, Dec. 17.

The difference between owning shares of common stock and owning option contracts is the time limit.

If Dec. 17 rolls around and the price of First Solar is trading below $125, the investor will lose all of the money used to purchase those call options.

Buying call options is not for everyone, and in fact should only be done by sophisticated investors who are willing to speculate.

Walter Crane

Ottawa Hills

Recapture the SJJ spirit

We wonder what happened to St. Ignatius' motto of “man for others” at St. John's Jesuit High School and Academy.

All four of our sons and three of our grandsons graduated from SJJ. We have known Andy Babula as an outstanding teacher and role model whose integrity is beyond reproach (“Teachers question St. John's actions,” July 5).

We are concerned that recent events contradict the motto that drew us to St. John's Jesuit.

We hope that this Jesuit ideal is the driver of future decisions, so we can again respect the school we supported and loved.

Bruce and Betty Lemon


Dissect the modern way

Though animal dissection is a thing of the past, it is still being practiced in local schools. There are alternatives to dissecting animals in high school science classes. They include computer software, videodiscs, and models.

Digitally simulated dissections are humane, environmentally friendly, and cheaper than buying animal cadavers for every student.

Stephanie Ross