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February 12, 1981 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1981-02-12

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OPINION

Page 4

-t-

Thursday, February 12, 1981

The Michigan Daily

Et aag btudenatTe nig an t
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

In defense of Social Security'

Vol. XCI, No. 114

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, M1 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Self-appointed apostles
hard at work once more

HALK UP ANOTHER one for the
Moral Majority. This time those
defenders of the faith, along with
several other fundamentalist groups,
have set out to purge San Francisco of
its homosexuals.
The coalition plans to buy adver-
tising to promote anti-gay feeling in
the community and persuade
homosexuals to give up their lifestyles.
"I agree with capital punishment
and I believe homosexuality is one of
those that could be coupled with mur-
ders and others sins," said Dean
Wycoff, a spokesman for the Santa
Clara Moral Majority. Wycoff termed
San Francisco the "Soddom and
Gomorrah" of the nation.
To even consider retribution against
one group of individuals because of a
different sexual orientation seems ab-
turd to clear-thinking people. But
tolerance and clear thought have never
been tenets of the dogma of the Moral
Majority and other fledgling fun-
'damentalist groups.

The Moral Majority's warped logic,
however, is disturbingly clear in this
case. These "God-fearing Christians,"
as if by some divine inspiration, have
deemed that members of another
group are sinners. Therefore, the
world must be rid of these sinners-or
so fundamentalist logic tells us.
In this particular case, the "sinners"
are the gays in San Francisco-and
woe come to him or her who tries to
stop the moral purge.
In addition to mailing leaflets to ad-
vertisers in the gay newspaper, The
Advocate, members of the group have
warned they will watch for those
lawmakers who support legislation
favoring gays or gay rights. Undoub-
tedly, those legislators will incure the
wrath of the moralists at the next elec-
tion.
Unfortunately, efforts such as these
are typical of the self-righteous lunatic
fringe that seems to be increasingly
crawling out of the woodwork.

When George B., began his career as a
bookkeeper in 1937, he also began making
contributions to a life insurance and pension
program. He has been paying into that
program ever since.
But with retirement just on the horizon, and
a lifetime of paid premiums behind them
George and millions of other hard-working
Americans are about to lose a substantial
part of the benefits they were led to expect.
For a great many of them, that prospect
means enforced poverty in old age.
The name of the insurance program? Social
Security. Contrary to what many Americans
now believe, its major component is not social
welfare - charity - but bonafide insurance,
based on regularly scheduled payments and
extended to the vast majority of U.S. workers.
It is the only such program in existence not
subject to the whims of the investment
market, or to the administrative abuses
whichhave caused scandals in many private
pension and insurance plans.
Moreover, it is run at an unparalleled low
cost. Just 1. percent of total benefit paymen-
ts funds the operating budget of Social
Security.
Nevertheless, the program is under fire,
thanks to misunderstandings about its nature,
the rising number of the aged, and Reagan
Administration promises to cut back on
federal spending.
Ironically, the Social Security umbrella
may be partially closed to the very people
who paid for it: the first generation to spend
its entire working life paying the premiums.
George B., who is struggling with a decision
on whether to retire now-with reduced Social
Security and workplace pensions - or wait
for full benefits at age 65, willhardly welcome
a recent announcement that a Reagan-
appointed Task Force on Social Security
favors raising the full-benefit age to 67 or 68
years. The Task Force may also recommend
revision of the index formula used to
calculate retirees' initial benefits so that they
will average 25 percent of covered pre-
retirement pay. The average is now 40 per-
cent.
Despite 22 years on his present job,
growing weary of the pressures and sufering
from a mild but chronic heart ailment,
George wonders if he can make it if he retires
now.
Most of the Georges of this country clearly
prefer earlier retirement. Since 1962, when
Social Security benefits first became
available for men at age 62, more than half

By Gregory Bergman
have chosen an earlier age than 65, according
to the Social Security Administration, even
though they receive reduced benefits and
don'tcome under Medicare health insurance
until age 65.
Reagan's Task Force proposes to phase in
the older-age-for-pension provision over a
period of years so as to give due notice of the
change and obviate inequities. Nonetheless, it
flies in the face of a worldwide trend toward
earlier retirement according to data in the
government publication "Social Security
Throughout the World." For example, the
pensionable age is 55 for women and 60 for
men in Japan, the Soviet Union and Italy.
Finally, the Task Force proposes to reduce
the annual Cost of Living Allowance through
using the Wage Index as a base instead of the
Consumer Price Index, or whichever is lower.
Reagan himself, last June, questioned
whether the Consumer Price Index figure
may not be too high for the elderly, since it in-
cludes, he said, "many things no longer ex-
penses for the elderly, like buying homes."
In contrast, Laurie Fiori, Legislative
Representative of the 12.5 million member
American Association of Retired Persons
says there is "significant evidence" that the,
Consumer Price Index understates the effect
of inflation on the elderly. Oldsters concen-
trate their expenditures on necessities,
especially in food, fuel and utilities, and
medical care, she says, all of which rise
faster than the Index.
"It's unfair to focus on the elderly in any
budget cutting action," saysFiori "throwing
them into the front lines in the inflation bat-
tle."
Inflation also is creating a "downward
thrust" pushing many middle income elderly
toward the near poverty level, says Fiori.
Job-related and other pensions, for example
which coo not adjust for inflation, lose real
value each year.
Besides the old age pension, Social Security
also provides many other services such as Aid
to the Blind, Crippled Children's Services, Aid
to Families with Dependent Children, and
survivor's benefits, all of which are affected
by the Cost of Living Allowance.
One answer for Americans threatened by
such cutbacks is to organize and fight it out
politically. They might begin by challenging
assertions that the Social Security system is
facing insolvency. There was just a 1.2 per-

cent deficit in 1979, according to a recent Joint
Economic Committee study: contributions
were $103 billion, while benefits payments
amounted to $104.3 billion. The main factor
creating the imbalance, says the Committee's
report, is that contributions, which come en-
tirely from payroll taxes, were down due to
unemployment, while benefits rose to keep
pace with inflation.
Syndicated economics columnist Sylvia
Porter maintains that the Social Security
system is basically safe, if in need of some
reform. "There are long term concerns over
the red ink," she says, "and in the 1980s we'll
have to depend increasingly on general
government revenues. There's no reason we
shouldn't. The system wasn't set up to be sup-
ported out of contributions only - or to pay
for all the social benefits and Medicare added
since it was initiated ... an unfair burden."
In fact, the tax source of Social Security
could be the central issue in a fight over
proposed reductions. Complete dependence
on the payroll tax provides a narrow and un-
stable base, with an income decline during
periods of high unemployment. Thus, all of the
the organizations representing the elderly
and the workers paying the payroll taxes -
the National Council of Senior Citizens, the
National Retired Teacher's Association, the
AARP, the Gray Panthers, and the AFL-CIO
- favor partial funding from general gover-
nment revenues.
However, all of them favor payroll taxes as
the main source of revenue so as to maintain
the principle of insurance, of benefits coming
as a result of contributions related to wages
earned, as a matter of right, not charity.
In any case, in 1981 retirees will be
"fighting literally for their lives" in the face
of "a president who has promised lower taxes
and huge military expenditures as well as a
balanced budget," says William Hutton,
Executive Director of the National Council of
Senior Citizens.
At stake for them, after all, is not simply
the immediate future - retirement in an era
of rising prices and a shrinking dollar. It is
also the past - four decades of faithful con-
tributions to the nation's largest insurance
program.

Another Israel landgrab

M

Gregory
wrote this
Service.

Bergman, a freelance writer,
article for the Pacific News

HE REAGAN administration has
wisely reiterated its position op-
posing the expansion of Israeli set-
tlements in occupied' territories. The
official statement comes after
President Reagan himself issued con-
fusing cross-signals on the issue that
some observers say may have
triggered the largest Israeli expansion
in history.
In an interview with reporters last
week, Reagan said he did not consider
the Israeli settlements in occupied
territories illegal, a postion that con-
flicts with the official stance the United
States has taken since Israel captured
the land in 1967. Some observers
believe Reagan's ill-considered
statement has given the green-light for
unchecked Israeli expansionism.
Israel, in what is probably the last
months of the rightist leadership of
Prime Minister Menachem Begin, is
reported to be closing off enormous
tracts of land on the occupied West
Bank for Jewish settlement. Represen-
tatives of Palestinians who own land on
the West Bank have called Begin's ex-
pansion drive "the biggest Israeli land
grab since the 1967 war."
Begin's motives behind the last-

minute expansion are obvious. The
Labor Party administration which will
very likely accede to power after the
election this June has adopted a less
expansionist stance. It is likely that the
Labor Party administration, once in
power, would restrict further expan-
sion but would not disband those set-
tlements already established. If Begin
can dramatically expand settlement
before the new government is expected
to come to power, he may permanently
establish a greater Jewish presence in
the area.
But, yesterday the Reagan ad-
ministration issued its strongest
criticism yet of Israeli expansionism.
This denouncement is overdue,
especially in light of Reagan's con-
Tusing statements to the contrary last
week.
Continued Israeli occupation and
settlement of t1oe territory it captured
during the 1967 Six-Day War can only
promote Arab-Israeli tension and ef-
fectively destroy any chance for lasting
peace in that area.
The fact that Israel is an important
military ally must not blind the United
States to the Israeli violation of the
Palestinian right to self-government.

LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Guard protects

w . w i

V,

public

0l

To the Daily:
I would like to offer a reply to a
letter by Gregg Wolper (Daily,
Feb. 7). Mr. Wolper attacked the
exhibit "The National Guard
Heritage" now on display in the
UGLI. He assails the display for
"glorifying the military." The
display notes acts of heroism and
accomplishments of the Guard.
Is that such a crime?
What Mr. Wolper misses is the
fact that National Guardsmen
are not professional soldiers but
average citizens. Their sacrifices
in time of war are no less than
those of Washington's army at
Valley Forge, the Marines at
Belleau Wood in WoId War I, the
101st Airborne "Division at
Bastogne, the Marines at
Guadalcanal in World War II, or
the eight men who died in the at-
tempted rescue of the hostages in
Iran.
The concept of the citizen-
soldier goes back to the days of
the Minute Men who were not
professional soldiers but citizens
who answered the call to arms in
time of crisis.
The mission of today's Guard
and Reserve is to provide a large,
combat-ready, easily mobilized
force in the event of a national
emergency. The alternatives to
having the Guard and Reserce
are, on the one hand, a large
standing army. This is;
economically undesirable as it
bids resources away from the
traditionally more productive
private sector.
Were we to go to this we would
find ourselves in much the same
boat as the Soviet Union. We
would have a centralized
economy with virtually no con-
sumer goods (luxuries like cars,
Levis, and appliances) as well as
shortages of staples (I refer here
to food, not the devices that hold
two or more pieces of paper
together). ,
On the other hand, we could do
away with the military entirely.
Great, I'd love ,it. We could all
grab a six and lay out onethe

though desirable, is simply not
realistic. Thus, we are stuck with
the Guard and Reserve.
Wolper belittles Abraham Lin-
coln's recount of his experience
with the Illinois Militia. Why?
My experiences in the Army
helped me to develop skills in
leadership and management, and
gave me an appreciation of the
sacrifices our men in uniform
make.
Today's soldiers are volunteers
who join mostly for two
reasons-lovemofscountryrand a
desire to improve themselves.
(This is my experience, not a
recruiting pitch). We reward
these men with low pay, sub-
standard housing and ridicule.
Perhaps the rising pro-military
feelings Wolper speaks of will
allow soldiers, sailors, airmen,
and marines to make a decent
living in the absence of the
ridicule of people like Wolper.
On the matter of Kent State I
offer no excuses or apologies. I
wasn't there so they're not mine
to give. I personally feel that
whatever good that may have
come in the way of increased
awareness in future dealing bet-
ween the Guard and the public
can never compensate for the
deaths of the students at Kent
State.
However, I do feel Wolper's
sarcastic reference to the in-
cident was uncalled for. For me
to make such a reference would
be to call the students "radical
punks" which they were not.
They were American citizens
exercising their rights of free
speech and peaceful assembly. I
too believe in these rights. I offer
my service in the military as
proof.
I wore a uniform every day and
now wear it one weekend a month
and two weeks in the Summer so
that all Americans (you too,
Gregg) can enjoy the rights af-
forded them by the Constitution I
am sworn to defend. In return I
ask no thanks, just an understan-

w

Budget cuts are reality

1 --

OK,CIIEF! WEVE WORKEP
OUT A"91T LIST" TO SHAPE
ViNtiS UF AROUNDH ERE !
W T

FIRST, WE'LL TRIM
MEDICAID BY
$1 BILUON!

TIENWE'LL (UT OUT
THIS"MINIMUM" SOCIAL
SECURITY FOR OLD FOLKS!

To the Daily:
I want to commend you on your
editorial concerning Monday's
rally in the Diag (Daily,
February 11). Your
acknowledgement that there is a
budget problem that the Univer-
sity has to grapple with, is the
realistic first step toward con-
ditioning ourselves for changes
on campus. It should not be a
shock to anyone that severe
budget restraints mean that'
large alterations have to be made
in University programs. This
idea seems to be elementary
and quite easy to grasp.
Unfortunately, this rather sim-
ple truth seems to be beyond the
comprehension of the Michigan
Student Assembly, our supposed
representatives. Maybe the
Assembly members have been
neglecting their intellectual
development while devoting so
much time to "governing" the
stiudent body.
N nn, c,,ipnt avprnmpn

It seems to be that if MSA
President Marc Breakstone were
-given a black mask, white
cowboy hat, revolver, and horse,
he would make an ideal "Lone
Ranger."
Rather than a head-in-the-sand
approach of "let's protest and
fight the administration's plan
even though we have no alter-
native," I believe that MSA
would make better use of its time
and effort by realistically
developing useful recommen-
dations on how the budget-cutting
process could be made optimal.
I came to the University
because of its academic ex-
cellence. I hope that in the future
I can say "I'm a graduate of
Michigan" and still be proud of
its high acade nic standards. If
this means that the University
can no longer be everything to
everybody, so be it.
I applaud the administration's
forward-looking attitude and ap-
nrn,n in t e .d Anncin h4,m

0

:;i :-

M EN WE LL CUT FOOD
STAMPS BY $26 BILLION
>7* 7

NOW, ABOUT
YOUR SABLE
ALLOWANCE
FOR NANCY....

RUGT! WE
MUST SPREAD
THE SACRIFICE
AROUND!

ONLY ONE
COAT NEXT
YEAR?

CDT(HA !

(,Ii

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