Leave the baby boomers alone


To the editor:

In response to Robert Samuelson's Sunday column, "Don't spare the boomers from budget pain": In the famous words of Margaret Thatcher, "The problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people's money."

Let's say you have a bank account, and every payday you put a little bit into savings. Over the years, with interest, you accumulate a nice nest egg. But when you go to the bank to take the money out, the bank says, "Oh no, Mrs. DeLaMare. We've decided not to give it to you because you already have enough. We're going to give your money to that fellow standing behind you. He needs it more." This is Washington's idea of saving for the future. How can it be shown more clearly? What words can I use to tell people such as Mr. Samuelson, "It's not your money"?

Mr. Samuelson, I truly feel your pain. And I feel the pain of those who didn't save and people who believe in instant gratification. But it's my money, I worked for it, I sent it in and I want it back. With interest. I've been working since I was 6, I've saved and I've paid my dues. If the government is broke and needs more entitlement money, they can get it somewhere else.

LINDA DeLaMare

Pahrump

Nevada's heritage

To the editor:

The inaugural words of John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country," inspired a generation of Americans like myself. Urging us not to be dependent upon, but to go beyond what government could do, JFK challenged each of us to rekindle the founding spirit of self-reliance that created a nation like no other in history.

Instead of promising Americans a government-subsidized rose garden, the former war hero delivered his most famous quote on personal responsibility.

On Monday, Nevada's 29th governor will stand with his family on the chilly steps of the Nevada Capitol and take his oath. Like JFK, Brian Sandoval enters office facing enormous challenges. State budgetary problems caused from a near depression have knocked the bloom off Nevada's sagebrush.

Regardless of the lofty rhetoric that our newest chief executive delivers and on the evening of his first State of the State address, Nevadans would be wise to take Mr. Kennedy's advice and expect more from ourselves than we do from state government. Besides, as another statesman, Winston Churchill, once said, "An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

The year 2011 will be another challenging time for most Nevadans. A new governor and state lawmakers will not solve all the state's problems in one legislative session. Most of the state's families are struggling to make their own budgets work. Elected officials can help by behaving more like the parents they represent than the partisans they frequently become.

Most Nevadans are proud of our "Battle Born" heritage. We can be equally proud if we strive to give ourselves the kind of rebirth of the spirit that President Kennedy spoke of 50 years ago.

PAT HICKEY

RENO

The writer, a Republican, represents District 25 in the Nevada Assembly.

Pension plans

To the editor:

It continues to puzzle many of us who are participants of the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System that the Review-Journal continues its factless attack on the fiscal soundness and long-term stability of the defined-benefit pension plan, as evidenced in the Dec. 19 editorial "Reforming pensions."

The Review-Journal conveniently avoids providing the public with all the facts so that they can make an informed decision for themselves about the sustainability, and, more importantly, overall costs associated with the current defined-benefit pension plan.

We should all be able to agree that no matter where our taxpayer money (public employees are taxpayers too) is spent, we taxpayers should expect the greatest return on investment possible. Currently, taxpayers, through public employers, contribute approximately 12 percent toward most public employees' defined-benefit pension plan, while the public employee also contributes approximately 12 percent. The law requires the employer and the employee to share the cost of the contribution equally. The Review-Journal would like readers to believe that the issue is about the value of the public employee retirement benefit, but the reality is that the issue has always been about the best use of taxpayer contributions.

What the Review-Journal has continually not told taxpayers is that even if the current system were changed from a defined-benefit pension plan to a defined-contribution pension plan, the taxpayers' obligation and cost would be just as much as it is now. In communities outside of Nevada that have defined-contribution benefits and Social Security plans, the taxpayers' share (through the employer) of the Social Security contribution is approximately 6 percent, while the average employer (taxpayer) contributes between 5 percent and 8 percent to a defined-contribution 401(k) program.

When you combine those 2 contributions (11 to 14 percent) to any public employee retirement plan, the cost associated with the proposals promoted by the Review-Journal and others is just as much, and in some cases more, than the current defined-benefit pension plan.

What the Review-Journal continually fails to disclose to its readers is that Nevada public employees and their employers are not currently required to contribute to the Social Security system because they do not receive any Social Security benefits.

What the Review-Journal also fails to disclose is that if a public employee has earned Social Security benefits because he previously worked in another state or had a second job while employed in Nevada, he will automatically lose two-thirds percent of the value of any Social Security benefit he may have earned solely because he is a public employee. We all know that doesn't happen to others employed in the private sector, regardless of how many pensions a person may have.

Public employees, like all our other taxpayers, realize economic times are tough, but the fact is none of us caused our current economic mess, nor did our pension plan.

DAVID KALLAS

LAS VEGAS

The writer is the retired former executive director of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association.

 

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