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Voice of the reader

Voice of the reader

Friday, March 18, 2005

Social Security based on individual, societal benefits

Writing in "Social Security" (page 9, McCahan, 1975), Robert J. Myers said: "Whenever a social security system involves contributions from the potential beneficiaries, the question of individual equity versus social adequacy arises. Individual equity means that the contributor receives benefit protection directly related to the amount of his contributions. … Social adequacy means that the benefits paid will provide for all contributors a certain standard of living."

Recently my daughter graduated from college and started a new job. Yeah! If during the first decade of her probable four or five decade working career she contributed her starting salary Social Security taxes into an account that earned a rate of return equal to the worst 40-year period of an actual 68-year fund, she would accumulate $2,357,470 ($668,020 in 2005 dollars) at her retirement in 2052. Individual equity in action.

Another close relative of mine has received thousands of dollars more than was contributed to Social Security; the internal rate of return on contributions made in relation to benefits received is far greater than the best 40-year period of the same above fund. Social adequacy in action.

To suggest one plan is "better" than the other ignores the facts. To believe both individual equity and social adequacy cannot exist, to some degree, in the same overall Social Security plan has no historical basis. Both have always been part of the plan and both sides can be improved. Let's all work together on the improvements.

Douglas M. Osborne CPA Billings

There's easy way to fix Social Security 'crisis'

The Social Security "crisis" can be fixed with one stroke of the pen by President Bush.

No, we do not need to raise the retirement age. That would be unfair to our senior citizens who have already been working for 40-plus years. That would also keep young job seekers from finding a job if these seniors had to work longer.

No, we do not need to cut benefits to our seniors who need them.

What we need to do is merely eliminate the $90,000 taxable wage cap on Social Security deposits. Under the present system, once you make over $90,000, you no longer have to pay anything more into Social Security for that year. However if you make less than that, 100 percent of your income is taxed for Social Security.

Instead of those making more than $90,000 crying about having the law changed to require them to keep paying in like the working man or woman who makes less, these well-to-do folks should be thankful that they had the opportunity to succeed in their careers and earn such a good wage.

Please write, e-mail or call your elected officials and tell them to eliminate the cap.

Ric Hanson Columbus

Bill would ease health costs for small business

Montana's U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns understands that skyrocketing health care costs hurt small businesses. On his Web site, he states that "finding ways to make quality health care and insurance available to even the most rural areas in Montana is absolutely crucial."

I couldn't agree more. At Sports Inc. in Lewistown, we employ 40 Montanans. We are proud of our employees and the work they do that contributes to moving our state's economy forward. But with annual double-digit premium increases, finding and providing quality and affordable health care is an ongoing struggle.

Burns could help ease the burden on small businesses by sponsoring the Small Business Health Fairness Act (S. 406). This legislation would allow small-business owners to band together across state lines through their membership in bona fide associations to purchase health insurance for their families and employees. By joining together, smaller employers will enjoy greater bargaining power and increased efficiencies.

Labor unions and Fortune 500 companies already have the ability through federal law to insure across state lines, which results in greater cost savings for health insurance. Small businesses should be able to do so, too. We encourage Burns to stand with small business and sponsor the Small Business Health Fairness Act.

Dave Salvi, CEO


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