February 13

Robert J. Samuelson misdiagnosed the cause of what he sees as governmental degradation in his Feb. 10 op-ed column, “The end of government,” blaming it more on liberals in thrall to social benefits for the elderly than on conservatives in thrall to anti-tax ideology. The reverse is true. We easily could fix Social Security’s finances by raising the cap beyond which income is not taxed to support the program. And we could do much more to control medical costs.

To lay our budget challenges at the feet of the elderly, as Mr. Samuelson did, makes it seem that liberals and the natural aging process are to blame. But the problem is not natural, it is social; it is a question of political values and priorities.

Richard Handler, Charlottesville