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Your Views: Economy does affect retirees
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In a recent article, "Battered economy may doom sales tax" statements attributed to Jeff Humphreys, UGA's director of economic forecasting, went something like this: "Retirees are less affected by the recession than people still in the work force."
He continues that retirees haven't lost jobs. No, most have not lost jobs, but a substantial number have been forced to take part time jobs to supplement economy impacted savings.

Mr. Humphreys cites Social Security increases, defined pension plans, etc., as an advantage to retirees. As one of the retirees he referred to, I would like to add some dimension and contradiction to his apparently not too well-researched comments.
First, true, some retirees have "defined pension plans." However, if in my case they have not increased since 1994. Have they kept up with inflation? Absolutely not.

Social Security has offered miniscule increases, much of which is offset by additional insurance costs and or deductions if we sell an asset which puts one into a certain level.

Certificate of deposits are at or near an all-time low for income.

IRA programs, which have substantially reduced in value, are still taxed in full income when they are redeemed.

Utilities are going up to new highs. Electricity is up 17 percent over last year for 5 percent less usage. (Not to mention increases in other utilities, cable, food, gasoline, etc.)

Additionally, retirees who have made an attempt to be self-supporting without governmental or other subsidies by purchasing reasonable amounts of insurance are further penalized with prohibitive increases each year. Prescription drug program up 65 percent in 2009 over 2008. Supplemental insurance goes up 10-12 percent at each birthday. Long term care insurance increases by 10 percent annually.

And, if that isn't enough, for retirees who might like to sell a home and downsize, they can expect to receive 22 to 30 percent less when they sell than they had planned for retirement planning. This is assuming that there is a market for the home.

Mr. Humphreys makes the statement (not including retirees, of course) that "Right now, it's just every penny counts." With above few representative issues with which retirees are faced, would he like to review his position that retirees are less affected?
Most retirees are not protected by tenure or automatic increases each year at the expense of the public. Actually, the retirees are paying their share of that public expense so that others, including many of our university professors, can enjoy it.

It might be well for Mr. Humphreys to come out of the collegiate cocoon and address the real issues that retirees are facing before he makes questionable and unreliable comments.

Yes, retirees are severely affected by the downturn in economy. Let the facts speak for themselves.

Bill G. Beaty
Flowery Branch

When will the drought end? Don't ask the lake watchers
How many times have you and your family been in your house watching the rain and someone says, "That should be an end to the drought"?

After what we saw this weekend, you would expect that everyone would agree. But you need to hold on to your rubber boots. Mike Leary, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in Peachtree City, said Sunday, the lake has yet to get the full impact of last week's five-day rain event. "It's certainly going to help, though," he said. "But we need about 10 of these before you start saying, ‘hey, we're going to end that drought.'"

I think I understand now why we can't seem to pull out of this drought. The people who are the smartest among us regarding this matter base the existence of the drought on the level of Lake Lanier.

Someone please tell Mr. Leary that the Corps of Engineers controls the release of the lake and therefore it is not a true indicator of the existence of a drought.

I hope that The Times will please seek another opinion on this issue in the future, like my neighbor's yard.

Joe Schuebert

Why not focus concerns on caring for children already here?
I am sick and tired of reading letters about Roe vs. Wade and slavery. As for slavery, we know it was wrong, and as long as it is included in our educational system as history, we won't forget it and shouldn't.

But it seems to me that if a people hold to a horror and repression of a past, they integrate it into the present, they do not move forward and they pass it on to future generations as a perpetual cross to bear, a continuous source of lamentation and complaint.

What a horrible thing to do. So counterproductive to the success of our children. We must be teaching them now, that with dedication and work, they can reach any goal they desire.

Barack Obama is our president. Enough said.

As for Roe v. Wade, most of the letters I read on this issue are from men. When men can carry a baby in their bellies, deliver it and raise it (yes, women still do most of the child rearing), or more to the point, suffer an abortion, then I might be willing to listen to your rantings.

Try focusing your efforts on the children who are already here. I never hear much outrage concerning children who are being abused, physically and emotionally.

See how you can help children who are living with drug addicted parents, children and mothers who are living without support from the fathers, children who are abandoned to orphanages or foster care (and I'm not saying that they are all bad), children living with neglect. Is it no longer your business once the child is actually in this world?

Kim James
Flowery Branch

Water fees already have gone up
In reference to Sunday's story, "Gainesville may raise water fees:" The article did not mention that the Gainesville Public Utilities Department already has raised the price for water more than 5.5 percent and the "account service fee" (the charge for reading your meter and sending you a bill) more than 5.5 percent beginning Jan. 1.

Maybe the department should examine more efficient cost cutting methods before raising fees again this year.

Doug Phillips