Email letters, Oct. 12, 2011

Social Security is not an entitlement

Remember, not only did we contribute to Social Security, but our employer did too. It totaled 15 percent of our income before taxes. If you averaged only $30,000 over your working life, that’s close to $220,500.

If you calculate the future value of $4,500 per year (yours and your employer’s contribution) at a simple 5 percent (less than what the government pays on the money that it borrows), after 49 years of working you’d have $892,919.98.

If you took out only 3 percent per year, you’d receive $26,787.60 per year and it would last better than 30 years (until you’re 95 if you retire at age 65) and that’s with no interest paid on that final amount on deposit! If you bought an annuity and it paid 4 percent per year, you’d have a lifetime income of $2,976.40 per month.

The folks in Washington have pulled off a bigger Ponzi scheme than Bernie Madhoff ever had.

Entitlement my foot, I paid cash for my social security insurance. Just because they borrowed the money, doesn’t make my benefits some kind of charity or handout.

Congressional benefits — free healthcare, outrageous retirement packages, 67 paid holidays, three weeks paid vacation, unlimited paid sick days — now that’s welfare, and they have the nerve to call my social security retirement entitlements?

We’re broke and can’t help our own seniors, veterans, orphans, homeless.

In the last months we have provided aid to Haiti, Chile and Turkey. And now Pakistan, home of bin Laden. Literally, billions of dollars

Our retired seniors living on a fixed income receive no aid nor do they get any breaks while our government and religious organizations pour hundreds of billions of dollars and tons of food to foreign countries.

They call Social Security and Medicare an entitlement even though most of us have been paying for it all our working lives. Now when it’s time for us to collect, the government is running out of money. Why did the government borrow from it in the first place? Imagine if the government gave us the same support they give to other countries. Sad isn’t it?

In addition, because I was a public school teacher in Colorado, I only receive one-third the Social Security benefit I am otherwise entitled to.

Senate Democrats display cowardice

With relatively little fanfare, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, supported by every Democrat in the U.S. Senate including Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, shamefully invoked the so-called nuclear option so as to avoid having to debate President Obama’s jobs bill. Never mind the fact that the president himself has been demanding for some time now that the bill be passed immediately, and that debating the bill would logically precede such a vote.

This historic act of cowardice on the part of Senate Democrats sweeps away over two centuries of debate and democracy-preserving tradition, as the previously inviolable protection of both majority and minority voices in the upper chamber has now been breached. With the nuclear genie having been let out of the bottle over such a trifling issue, Udall and Bennet will regret their treachery whenever the inevitable happens and the GOP gains control of the Senate.

Grand Junction

Join those who support our schools and vote for 3B

The 20,000-plus students in our valley deserve your support with a “Yes” vote on 3B, the school district mill levy override. The money generated will go directly to our students and schools.

I applaud the community organizations (Chamber of Commerce, Grand Junction Economic Partnership, The Daily Sentinel, Mesa County Democrats and many more) and public leaders (Sen. Steve King, former Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, former Sen. Tillie Bishop, County Commissioner Janet Rowland, City Councilwoman Theresa Coons, Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster, Home Loan President Jamie Hamilton and many more) who have stepped out and had the guts to stand up for kids in this community and ask you to support 3B.

The funds generated from the passage of 3B are being used for very specific reasons: adding back days into the school calendar, hiring back teachers to work directly with students, working to equalize technology so that each of those 20,000 plus-students have access and the chance to develop those 21st century technological skills needed.

A day in the district doesn’t go past without district administration along with school buildings principals and staffs looking at restructuring and discussing new strategies to improve student achievement.

The heroes who work with struggling and handicapped students and students who don’t attend school regularly in their classrooms should be recognized and applauded, not criticized for low test scores.

School District 51 needs the financial resources to address the needs of those struggling students. Additional support and individual help will cost additional dollars. Gifted students deserve that same support so they can enjoy unique opportunities to further their talents.

Hats off to Clifton Elementary staff who have raised student achievement dramatically and were able to do so after receiving a huge grant. Extra planning time requires additional money, so do additional staff to work with struggling students and purchasing new resources/ technology. Celebrate the growth Clifton has made after receiving the new funding.

If community members want higher achievement and graduation rates along with the ability to attract new businesses, then step up to the plate, support your community schools. Visit schools and volunteer to help one of those struggling students achieve more.

Let the 20,000-plus students in School District 51 know that you are willing to roll up your sleeves and support them. Vote “Yes” on Referred Measure 3B.

Grand Junction

Autogas is another alternative fuel source

I must commend the City of Grand Junction and Grand Valley Transit for their recent efforts to reduce emissions and costs by implementing alternative fuels in their fleets. However, it is disheartening to see tax dollars wasted by not exploring all of the alternative fuel choices.

Many municipalities have been quick to jump on the natural gas bandwagon. Autogas is a better alternative because a vehicle conversion is half the cost of CNG. An Autogas fueling station cost one tenth of a CNG station, and a vehicle can be refueled in 20 minutes. Compare this to overnight fueling with CNG. The range of an Autogas vehicle is also twice that of a CNG vehicle. The bottom line is an Autogas vehicle will reduce emissions by 1 1/2 times for every dollar spent when compared to CNG.

I realize their justification for CNG is the capture of gas from the treatment plant. While that is a worthy consideration, perhaps they should sell the gas to Excel to further reduce their costs. Autogas is plentiful, and it works. Just ask the largest cab company in Las Vegas or the Blue Bird school bus company.

Westland Propane Inc.
Grand Junction

‘Supercommittee’ is considering raising health care costs for seniors
The congressional “supercommittee” is considering proposals that would shift health care costs onto seniors and cut their Social Security checks. Instead, Congress should focus on cutting waste and tax loopholes.

There is a 12-member congressional committee that has been charged with cutting more than $1.5 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years. Colorado does not have a member on the committee, but that does not mean we should sit back and allow anyone to determine what is best for us, our children and our grandchildren. Our elected members of Congress must talk to the supercommittee members, and we must insist they do so.

Too few people outside Washington know that behind closed doors, the supercommittee is considering proposals that would make health care more costly to seniors, threaten their access to the doctors they have come to trust, and reduce the Social Security benefits they rely on. Cutting Social Security by $112 billion could cost seniors thousands of dollars over their lifetime, and raising the Medicare eligibility age would increase out-of-pocket spending for 65- and 66-year-olds by an average of $2,000 per year.

Our elected members of Congress must consider that more than 600,000 Coloradans rely on Social Security and Medicare, which also pumps billions into the local economy. It is not as if the benefits of these programs are lavish. Fifty percent of seniors 65 and older have an average annual income of $18,500 or less. Medicare beneficiaries pay an average of $3,000 out-of-pocket costs each year, and health care costs are rising.

I urge you to call your members of Congress today and let them know how you feel about proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare.
TERRI POTENTE, Executive Council
AARP Colorado

Our schoolchildren need 3B money

Now over 64,000 people will have the opportunity to decide the future of over 22,000 students who don’t have a say in how their educational future will mature. There has been a lot of debate about how School District 51 spends the money it garners from taxpayers and how some outspoken payees don’t want to pay more for the future of the children of this community.

District 51 has repeatedly proven to be good stewards of the taxpayers money to the tune of cutting over $28 million from its budget for the last 3 years. Graduation rates are increasing, drop out rates are decreasing, and the point of diminishing returns is here. It may take a few years to see the transformation of all our schools with the changes that have been implemented to curriculum, but it won’t take long for larger class sizes to lead to drop out rates increasing and graduation rates decreasing.

With the potential of another $8–10 million in cuts for next school year on the horizon, no signs of the economy turning around anytime soon implying more cuts in years to come, it behooves Mesa County to vote “Yes” on Referred Measure 3B as a way of securing an improving educational system for the children who don’t have a say in their educational future.

This is Mesa County’s opportunity to voice their true support of local control over their schools. 3B money is only for Mesa County and is needed by our students so they can continue to be the shining stars of our future.

Grand Junction


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