Fueling a misconception

EDITOR: Tuesday's editorial ("A tax increase that should be no surprise") said that "Social Security is projected to run out of money in 2035." This misconception unduly scares people.

The Social Security trust fund has a surplus of $2.5 trillion, invested in U.S. Treasury bonds. The surplus resulted from the hike in the payroll tax and increase in retirement age made in 1983 in anticipation of aging baby boomers.

Beginning in 2010, payroll taxes collected were less than the amount paid out. To deal with the shortfall, Social Security turned to the interest earned by its trust fund; in 2020, it will begin to redeem trust fund assets.

It is this invested surplus that will be gone by 2035. Then, Social Security will only be able to pay 75 percent of its obligations. While this is a real concern, there are many possible fixes. Increasing payroll taxes or the retirement age would hurt most workers. Most obvious is lifting the cap on payroll taxes; currently, income above $110,000 is not taxed.

Overstating the Social Security shortfall pits generations against one another, making younger people unnecessarily resent paying into a system that is incorrectly projected not to be there for them.



Guns vs. government

EDITOR: In trying to separate gun owners from gun nuts, I realize the latter are worried about the government trying to take over the country. I wish. Expecting Congress to accomplish anything is awfully optimistic.

However, to indulge the "protectionists" for the sake of argument, let's say the government decides to attack my house (I don't know why), and a patrol of trained soldiers and a tank pull up. If I have an AK-47, a handgun and a large Rambo knife, well, I think that's where the "cold dead hand" thing kicks in.

Quit the National Rifle Association, spend your money on a hunting license, and invite me over for a feral pig barbecue.



Apples and oranges

EDITOR: Chris Ineich ("Wine and marijuana," Letters, Jan. 9) said "greedy and unscrupulous winegrape growers are causing exactly the same forms of environmental damage" as illegal marijuana plantations. What a perfect example of the stupidity of comparing apples and oranges.

The marijuana growers hidden in our forests pump water from any source available, causing ecological devastation in streams and rivers. They use harmful chemicals that damage the ecosystem and kill fish. They till ground on slopes, causing erosion and silting of streams. They are trashing both private and public forests. And they are an armed threat to any citizens who lawfully enter their domain.

Vineyards are not planted in national forests or on other public land; they are on one's own property. The landowners who want to plant a vineyard must comply with a long list of environmental restrictions concerning slope, erosion control, water use, endangered species and use of chemicals.

Push for tighter enforcement or stricter regulations if you like, but please don't compare regulated agriculture with illegal marijuana plantations.



Double standard

EDITOR: The left will continue to demonize guns and let the root problems, criminality and mental illness, go by the wayside. People who shoot people, other than gang bangers who consider it a sport, and who do not acquire guns legally, are basically crazy. Law-abiding citizens are not the problem.

Criminals fear citizens who are armed and can protect themselves. Citizens go through lots of red tape to buy a firearm; criminals do not. Go after the criminals and the mentally ill.

The bleeding-heart left will go after the guns as the problem. The anti-gun folks claim that guns are the problem, not the person who shoots someone. Did you ever see a gun shoot someone without a human finger on the trigger?

What amazes me is that the Hollywood left, which decries gun violence, makes some of the most violent, awful movies, and guns are always part of the plot or the action. They glorify gun violence as art, yet they are in lockstep with all the lefties who want to do away with guns entirely. Do I detect a double-standard here?


Santa Rosa

A warning bell

EDITOR: A letter in Saturday's paper complained there is no easy way to find out when there is a Spare the Air no- burn day. You can call (800) 430-1515 and register to receive an automatic (free) phone call 24 hours before each Spare the Air day. A warning bell does toll; it can't get much easier than that.