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Entitlement costs

EDITOR: As a liberal and low-income senior, I'm disappointed with the left wing of our Democratic Party's no-changes-no-matter-what approach to Social Security and Medicare reform ("Promise not to cut is nothing like tax pledge," Close to Home, Wednesday).

We need to be more understanding of economic and political realities. The increasing number of seniors and our living much longer because of costly medical technology advances over the past two decades means that seniors are taking an exponentially increasing share of the federal budget.

Why should the benefits formula, designed in the more affluent 1980s, become this sacred cow that can't be adjusted?

I'm disappointed that many seniors, while acknowledging that the huge federal budget deficits must surely be reduced, seem to want all the cutbacks and pain to be absorbed by everyone else.

It's important to keep low-income seniors (as with everyone else) from falling through the cracks, but it feels wrong for better-off seniors to not be a part of the sacrifice everyone else is making.

Politically, President Barack Obama's only hope of getting Republicans to allow any tax hikes on the 1 percent to help fund social programs and infrastructure investment (a more noble goal, in my opinion) just won't happen without some minor tweaks in Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Allowing this would be a real gift to the country by us seniors.

RICK CHILDS

Mendocino

Outside investigation

EDITOR: Having lived in Cloverdale for 10 years I know who former police Chief Rod Dailey is. Trust me. Every one of the officers in the Cloverdale Police Department knows who he is ("Cloverdale crash victim's family questions investigation," Saturday).

If you and I were to run over two elderly women in a parking lot it would have been big news. What an insult to the victims for the current chief to say he didn't think the injuries were serious. Any time a woman in her 80s his hit by a car, flies in the air, lands on her head and is unconscious, it's a serious injury.

Cloverdale should have done what the Petaluma police did when one of their own was involved in a possible drunken driving incident: Bring in an outside agency.

BRENDA WIRTZ

Cloverdale

Top-heavy county

EDITOR: Regarding the story about deferred compensation benefits for Sonoma County officials ("Deferred compensation benefit goes unchanged," Wednesday"), the question should be this: Why are there "465 top government officials" in Sonoma County, and what do they do? Maybe some of those positions can be consolidated or eliminated. Isn't it time to cut the waste at the top?

CYNTHIA BOLOGNA

Santa Rosa

Equal treatment

EDITOR: Apparently, David Brooks believes that, because autonomy represents unfettered "maximum freedom," when two people who love one another marry, they have surrendered their autonomy and hence much of their freedom ("A victory for fewer choices, more obligations? April 4).

Nowhere does Brooks mention that sharing one's world with a life partner can confer many life-enhancing benefits, not the least of which is companionship. The autonomy to which Brooks refers is often synonymous with the impoverishment of loneliness.

Brooks infers that the restriction of freedom imposed by marriage is news to same-sex couples, many of whom have lived together for years, even decades, and consider themselves married. The desire for formal recognition of such current and future relationships is all about ending one of the last bastions of second-class citizenship imposed by the state upon gays and lesbians, affording them the equal protection guaranteed to all other citizens by the Constitution. This includes access to the many federal benefits enjoyed only by heterosexual couples.

The demand for equality and rights exists not because "that is the language we have floating around," as Brooks so patronizing puts it; gays and lesbians are demanding to be equal participants in our democracy. It's that simple.

RICHARD CLEVERLY

Santa Rosa