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Your Views: Congress doesnt deserve benefits that we dont get
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I am disappointed in a report that I read recently that stated that the Cost of Living Adjustment for every congressman recently went up to $550.22 a month. That is contrasted with the COLA received by senior citizens of a paltry $63 per month.

When you consider that the congressional COLA is in some cases more than some seniors citizens — especially surviving widows — have as their total monthly income, the comparison becomes very stark. And when you further consider the baseline from which the COLA was made, it becomes very clear that there is a great inequity being perpetrated upon senior citizens.

Another issue is that every time senior citizens receive a COLA, their total health care costs in the form of Medicare fees also rise. Somewhere this inequity must stop; senior citizens must be given the same consideration as members of Congress in-so-far-as COLAs are concerned.

Our elected officials must take care to ensure that they are truly representing their constituents, the ones who voted them into office, and not feathering their own nests, lest they find themselves on the outside looking in.

Lawmakers do pay 8 percent of their salaries into their pension system, although this only compensates for about one-fifth of the typical lifetime benefit. We cover the rest as taxpayers. Members of Congress also began to pay into Social Security in 1983, as part of a government-wide pension overhaul.

In addition, members of Congress do not draw the "same pension" as their pay in the last year of office as suggested in a rumor circulating on the Internet; only federal judges do that under the term "retirement pay." Still, the formula is quite generous, and, with 20 to 25 years, a member of Congress could retire with up to 80 percent of his or her salary replaced.

Of course, the only cap on how fast their benefits rise is the rate of increase in CPI. For this reason, congressional pensions can and frequently do exceed a member's final salary, but only after a few years in retirement, when COLAs begin to kick in.

In the final analysis, Congressional pension benefits are two to three times more generous than what a similarly-salaried executive could expect to receive upon retiring from the private sector. That ought to be enough to concern any taxpayer.

I believe our elected officials should be more in touch with their constituents and more sensitive to their needs when they consider COLAs and pay raises for themselves.

A.R. "Mac" McCahan

Why is someone with skills considered to be overqualified?
"Irregardless, you are overqualified."

"Irregardless" and "overqualified" — these are two words that do not exist, and I am tired of hearing them.

My son-in-law is currently looking for a job. He has been searching for several months, but to no avail. If he does get a response, it is always contains the declaration about being "overqualified."

Sadly, many of the places that he applies leave him in limbo because they do not possess the common courtesy to respond to his submitted applications with their firm. I truly feel his frustration as he sits and waits for a response from someone. I also empathize with all of the other "overqualified" job candidates who are subjected to the lunacy of this phrase.

Although I am now retired, I am fully appraised regarding the job market dilemma. But besides being a gentleman in the truest sense of the world, my son-in-law is incredibly skilled in so many areas. He is a skilled mechanic and incredible artist. He is very patient, slow to anger, and very people/client-oriented who can work both solo and as part of a team or as its leader and spokesperson. The made-up term "overqualified" is not an adjective that would fit his profile. In fact, he would be the type of person that anyone would want to have working for their community because of his plethora of skills.

So if it is possible, could someone reading this please contact me to explain what the phrase "irregardless, you are overqualified" means. Since when is it "overqualified" if you can get more for your money from one who also lives in your community and therefore has a vested interest in it? I am in the phone book.

Patricia Shields

Shipp plays up gun stereotypes
I am umbrage at the remarks made by columnist Bill Shipp, "Tragedy reflects Southern gun culture," April 29), and his coarse, unqualified comparison of decent citizens to the UGA professor who alledgedly went on a murderous rampage.

Shipp suggests that we have a raging shoot 'em up "gun culture" in the South which naturally results in such heinous acts. Shipp failed to note that the suspected murderer is from Holland, an anti-gun country that ironically has produced a number of shockingly blatant murderers in the past years.

The decent people of Athens are not prone to such behavior, nor are typical Southern gun owners so sick and wildly stupid as to commit such terrible crimes.

Distorted blanket accusations seem to be Shipp's specialty; he needs to study the facts before attempting to participate in journalism. Shipp shoots off his lip and shoots from the hip.

J.B. Turner