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Your Views: Candidates ignoring Social Security fix
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I have a question for all those young Iowa and New Hampshire voters who showed such outstanding support for the Democratic candidates for president, along with other Democratic supporters under the age of, say 40: Do you realize that the candidates you seem to want in office are the same type now controlling Congress (including some Republican politicians, as well), who will not even discuss fixing Social Security and your retirement benefits?

The members of Congress seem to be in a perpetual state of denial. I am now drawing Social Security and appreciate the help I am getting from Medicare, but I want you to have these same benefits when you retire, and I am not comfortable using your money to pay for my benefits.

These two huge entitlement programs that we now regard as part of our inalienable rights as Americans are, of course, doomed to failure in a few years, as we all know. Why even consider voting for someone who does not intend to address this big problem?

Instead, all the Democratic candidates want to add new entitlement programs. Universal health care is now one of their favorite topics. And the Republican candidates keep advocating lower taxes and have an all-volunteer government (which actually might not be a bad idea.)

If I were you, I would not vote for anyone who is not at least talking about how to fix Social Security and Medicare. If you watched the latest Republican debate in New Hampshire, you would know which of the presidential candidates I now support. Unfortunately, he is unpopular among the American people (I wonder why?) and will probably not end up as the Republican nominee.

Several years ago, Times columnist Ted Oglesby carefully crafted a series of articles on Social Security which presented solutions that, in my opinion, deserved attention. Did anyone even notice?

But the politicians in Congress were not, and are not, interested. This cowardly and unpatriotic attitude applies to some of our presidential candidates as well.

Again addressing young voters, don't you realize that your own retirement benefits will be directly affected by the next leader of our country? Are you concerned?

David Kay
Oakwood

Oglesby's column is a humorous diversion
My old friend, Ted Oglesby, has done himself proud in his latest hilarious parody of a political column (Candidate qualities that matter most," Tuesday). I enjoyed it immensely and hope there are more humorous works to come.

First, he identifies himself as an "evangelical Christian." Aren't evangelicals those meddlers who send missionaries here and yon to disrupt other people's lives, scare their children with visions of hell and generally mess with people unlike them? Very funny, Ted, but those who know you know that you are a much nicer man than that. I acknowledge that schools and clinics sometimes get built, but always as an afterthought to preaching.

His intimate knowledge of God's intentions and the Apostle Paul's motivations are worth mention, simply because in another paragraph he acknowledges, "Who are we to say" what is God's purpose. Good, Ted. Having it both ways is pretty convenient, and, when practiced, pretty funny.

There are other rib-ticklers, but the capper is his assertion that this country was founded on Christian principles. No, it was founded by men who were products of their time; they followed principles of Enlightenment philosophers, and their religious beliefs were largely deist and included atheism and some acknowledgement of Christian beliefs, but not the latter as the foundation in itself.

Ted made the Founding Fathers sound like a bunch of Baptists getting together for a Brotherhood Meeting (no alcohol, though, unless no one is looking). And the Constitution they came up with has no reference to God at all, let alone Christianity. Not one mention of either. That's the foundation of our republic: A Constitution that says religionists of all stripes should keep their hands off of our secular government.

But here is where it ceases to be funny: Newt Gingrich for Health and Human Resources chief? That's too much, way too much to be funny. Can't win 'em all.

Al Dale
Atlanta

Smokers no longer have freedom of choice
As a 35-year smoker forced to quit - and not of my choice I might add - I am disappointed in the way our local, state, and federal government officials are punishing the tobacco users in the United States.

What has happened to our Constitution and the Bill of Rights? I have always known that smoking may be bad for me, but I smoked because I enjoyed it. The left-wing liberals of this great country have infringed on my right to use tobacco.

I have two grandsons and I have never smoked around them. I went outside my residence to smoke so as not to subject them to secondhand smoke. When I was smoking, I was always considerate in a restaurant and did not smoke around people who did not smoke. I do have enough common sense to be considerate. Who gives the nonsmokers the right to infringe on my right to use tobacco products?

I work three different jobs to make ends meet. And I went outside to smoke. I never had a problem being considerate to nonsmokers. I just wish that nonsmokers could have been just as considerate and not deprive me of my right to smoke.

And now, my primary employer has informed us that if we use any tobacco products, no matter how much or how little, there will be a $30 surcharge because we smoke or use tobacco products to the cost of our health insurance, in addition to a rise in the premiums we already pay year. Their reasoning is that tobacco users are three times more likely to call in sick.

I have been working for my employer for more than 18 years, and I have probably called in sick fewer than 10 times. Most of the times I called, it was for the birth of my children and grandchildren or surgeries for my wife and children. Who gives the right to employers to decide what is best for us? How can employers discriminate against me because of my right to smoke?

What will be next? Will there be a surcharge because a person is overweight or obese? They may develop medical complications from being obese. What will be the cost for the right to eat fast food? Or will there be a surcharge for people who drink alcohol? We all know that drinking alcohol can cause cirrhosis of the liver and other medical conditions.

I just wonder what happened to the United States our forefathers founded. I wonder if they were alive today what they would think of this great country now. How can a select few make decisions for the majority?

I think its time for the smokers of this nation to stand up for their right to smoke. The nonsmokers sure have. The politicians of this country should have more important issues to concentrate on than smoking. As smokers and smokers forced to quit, we do have a voice, by our votes.

Dewayne Burton
Cleveland

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