Dear Editor:Am I dreaming? Is the president’s Social Security reform plan a case of “deja vu all over again?”Are we being offered a non-crisis and a non-solution similar to the phony crisis and the half-planned solution of the Iraq war? Remember the crisis? They said Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat to the U.S.! He had WMDs in volume. He would have a nuclear bomb in a year. Remember the “yellow-cake story? And the mobile WMD factory? Stir up fear and anger, that was the crisis, and the pre-emptive “defensive” war was the solution. All the while the U.N. inspectors in Iraq were reporting “No WMDs,” “No bombs.” Millions of people in the U.S. and around the world were passionately protesting the threat of war.But no. There was this “crisis,” this imminent threat to the U.S. that had to be solved. The inspectors were summarily withdrawn, the U.N. pressured to allow an attack. Shock-and-Awe commenced. “Victory” came quickly. Ah, but where were the occupation plans and sufficient troops? A country lay in shambles; no government, no law, no police, no economic or political structures and no plan nor enough troops to fill the void and provide security for the Iraqi people while they rebuilt their nation. This “half solution” to the “non-crisis” was a fiasco we are still struggling with.Now we have another “crisis” and another “solution.” This is the Social Security crisis and the Private Retirement Investment Accounts solution. We are told that Social Security is collecting fewer funds than it pays out and that it will be bankrupt in a few years. This is a half-truth. Yes. Social Security is now, or soon will be, collecting fewer funds than it’s paying out. But it isn’t facing bankruptcy. It has a huge surplus of funds in Treasury Bonds to draw on for many years. What we have is definitely not a crisis, it is a problem. Problems can be solved. Social Security is an extremely successful program. It has faced problems before and they have been solved. This one can be solved, too.The Private Investment Retirement Accounts are not the solution. They do nothing to correct the problem. Nothing. They add no new funds and they will cost an estimated 1.4 trillion dollars to make the transition. They will draw money away from Social Security and force it to cut benefits. They are a step backward to laissez faire economics and a callous “devil take the hindmost, social ethic.”Many of us remember the Great Depression of the ’30s. All of us remember the burst of the recent stock market bubble and the Enron disaster for so many of its stock holders. There will be more of the same. Social Security has been at least a straw for many to hold on to. It is a sure thing. The stock market is a gamble. Social Security can be fixed. One way might be to extend the upper limit of wages that contribute to Social Security from $90,000 on up to the top, up to the millions of dollars some CEOs collect. Why not?Peter LarroweEl Jebel
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A ski season surrounded with uncertainty kicks off on Wednesday. The six inches of new snowfall Tuesday will allow opening of an additional 62 acres on Aspen Mountain, bringing opening-day total to about 160 acres.