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Thursday, Apr 02, 2015

Letters to the editor, Oct. 2


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Questioning credibility

"Small government" is a movement that I have grown to hate. One segment of the ruling class has made this their mantra for moving forward. I would agree that there are elements of the government that need shrinking, but let me explain why this mantra does not go far enough.

Those espousing "small government" are applying the term only to taxpayers - reducing the types and amounts of services that citizens (needy or not) may be eligible for by today's standards and rules.

These same folks are not applying the term to themselves. In four areas, Congress avails itself of higher benefits than the private sector.

A) Congress enjoys pension benefits that are above those available to the private sector. Both pension amounts and the number of pensioners are higher in the public sector.

B) In addition, Congress enjoys lower health insurance benefits. They receive roughly 75 percent of the premium costs from government funds. Today just 25 percent of large firms offer retiree health benefits, leaving the rest to rely on Medicare.

C) Congress enjoys enrollment in the Thrift Savings Plan. Similar to a 401K, the TSP offers a higher employer contribution and a lower cost per $1,000 of investment.

D) Finally, Congress pays Social Security taxes but thanks to higher salaries, they get a higher initial benefit.

To add insult to injury, Congress was allowed to exclude itself from Obamacare. Legislation is now pending to remove this exclusion. Congress also voted recently to pay the full $174,000 salary to the wife of a deceased member. While their concern for their own is laudable, it goes against their attempt to restrict poorer people's access to help.

Add in higher life insurance benefits, more paid sick leave and higher wages and the total comes to 34 percent higher wages than the private sector and 70 percent better benefits for health coverage according to the Cato Institute. Many staff members and aides are earning more than $100,000 per year, a number that is almost double the median of U.S. private sector workers.

So until Congress talks about "small government" not only for citizens but for themselves, I will continue to question their credibility and sincerity. The ruling class (read both parties here) has raised itself to a level that smacks of elitism. I would not expect anyone running for office to espouse a reduction in congressional wages/benefits.

Robert Widmar

Weeki Wachee

Enough is enough

All of us who have worked all our lives and served our country in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, have to wonder what will be expected of us under Obamacare. We have given our all to our country, and while we understand there are those who, through no fault of their own, have not been able to provide for their families, there are those who have contributed or even attempted to contribute nothing to our country, one has to wonder. 

Are those who served our country and those who have got up every day and went to work, whatever the job was, required to support those who have decided America owes them? Why is it that families with multiple children, multiple fathers, and who, through the sacrifices of those who made America great, have children with smartphones, iPhones, iPads, and all the things we who have toiled for all our lives, are not required to pay for them?

When will be the day when anyone wanting a handout from our government will be required to provide proof that they are trying their very best to support themselves and their families? I am tired of those who think I owe them a world without sacrifice from using my tax dollars, which I earned through hard work, not being required to be responsible for themselves and those they have brought into this world.

Enough is enough.

Ron Dakin

Spring Hill

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