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Social Insurance, Not Welfare

Tuesday, March 29, 2005; Page A14

The next time Robert J. Samuelson decides to write a mean-spirited column, I suggest that he first check his arithmetic ["Welfare Junkies," op-ed, March 24].

While I speak only for myself, my Social Security status is probably typical of a large portion of the working public. As a worker past age 65, I am both a recipient of and a substantial payer into Social Security. What's more, when I add up the money I've put into the program during my working life plus what I will continue to contribute for several years, I find that I'll need to live to be very old indeed before I become what Mr. Samuelson called a "welfare junkie."

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What's more, if Mr. Samuelson believes that most people can afford to pay the costs of private medical insurance beyond their working years, he would do well to come down to Earth. Perhaps he enjoys financial privileges that most of the rest of us don't.

I agree that Social Security needs a benefit adjustment, for which I would suggest raising the recipients' age by a few years plus raising the income ceiling for those who pay in.

I also agree that we should call the Social Security program by its proper name. However, that name is not welfare. It is social insurance, a term that Mr. Samuelson dismissed out of hand. And unlike recipients of subsidies for large-scale farms and other federal giveaways, most of us who collect Social Security benefits have earned every penny.

THOMAS CUDDIHY

Farmingdale, N.Y.

Vice President Cheney tells us "to tie your future as you retire to the overall health and function of the American economy" [news story, March 22].

Unfortunately, he forgets that the "crisis" scenario projected by the Social Security trustees is one that assumes the U.S. economy will grow in the next 40 or so years at a rate less than two-thirds that of the past 40 years and even lower than that for the rest of the 75-year projection.

If our economy is healthy, so too is the Social Security trust fund.

JUNE ZACCONE

New York


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