Opinion | How to Deal With Social Security’s Rising Costs

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To the Editor:

Re “It’s Hands Off Social Security as Costs Grow” (front page, Feb. 16):

Social Security is a self-financing stand-alone program. It has its own dedicated tax: the F.I.C.A. Social Security is separate from the rest of the federal budget and does not contribute to that budget’s fiscal deficit.

It is undeniable that Social Security is facing a shortfall in revenue. But it is an easily resolvable problem with any number of fixes that do not require benefit cuts, including removing the cap on employment income taxed ($160,200 for 2023) and, more significantly in terms of revenue generated, beginning to tax investment income for Social Security purposes — the major source of income for the uber-rich.

James W. Russell
Portland, Ore.
The writer, an affiliate research scholar at Portland State University, is the author of “The Labor Guide to Retirement Plans.”

To the Editor:

Re “The G.O.P.’s War on Medicare and Social Security,” by Paul Krugman (column, Feb. 14):

In the penultimate paragraph of his column, Mr. Krugman cites a fact that is actually a key moral reason compelling fundamental reform of Social Security and Medicare: These programs are not means-tested.

There is good reason to help those who cannot afford medical care or retirement; there is no reason to do so for people merely because they are elderly. Indeed, as the Brookings Institution has pointed out, “Seniors are the wealthiest age cohort in the world.”

Transferring limited resources from the less fortunate to the wealthiest cohort of our society is difficult to defend.

Kenneth A. Margolis
Chappaqua, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I am a 76-year-old Democrat. The Democrats’ emphasis on the threat to Social Security and Medicare posed by the likes of Senator Rick Scott is likely to fall flat and could even backfire.

The vast majority know that the cold, hard numbers make it certain that, one way or the other, the present course is unsustainable. Instead of insulting people’s intelligence and playing only to the fears of the few people who are unaware of the reality, why not try telling people the truth and then setting up the debate on the question of how to deal with the inevitable, such as raising the ceiling on Social Security taxable income?

Richard E. Brodsky
Coral Gables, Fla.

Black Studies Course: ‘A Dream Deferred’

To the Editor:

Re “College Board Is Under Fire for A.P. Class” (front page, Feb. 14):

The poet Langston Hughes once asked: “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? … Or does it explode?

I have been teaching United States history for more than 25 years, and the introduction of the Advanced Placement curriculum for African American studies was a dream come true. Finally, a way to center the complex, grueling, rich history and experience of Black America.

What started out as a dream has now become a nightmare. Sadly, that’s a familiar refrain in Black history, another deferred dream.

This time it was caused by an explosion of the political forces demanding that their varnished, neatly packaged, incomplete version of Black history be the order of the day. The College Board missed an opportunity to take a stand for truth, and students are the ones to lose.

Julian Kenneth Braxton

To the Editor:

Re “Florida Consulted With College Board Over Black Course” (news article, Feb. 10):

It may no longer matter what is in the Advanced Placement course in African American studies. With so much publicity, students interested in the program are sure to ask questions in class about issues not covered by the curriculum.

This will expand the curriculum, unless of course Gov. Ron DeSantis prohibits students from asking questions or professors from answering them.

Jon Meyerson
Frederick, Md.

Censorship at Macalester: A Student’s Perspective

To the Editor:

Re “The Censoring of an Iranian American Artist,” by Michelle Goldberg (column, Feb. 14), about the temporary closure of an art exhibit at Macalester College after complaints from Muslim students:

I am a Macalester sophomore and was present on opening night for Taravat Talepasand’s exhibition. I enjoyed listening to Ms. Talepasand discuss the stories behind several of her wonderful pieces. Controversy is often less the byproduct of excellent art and more often the very source of its excellence. Ms. Talepasand’s art is technically skillful, but the politics, meaning and life experiences behind each piece are what makes the exhibit so valuable.

The Macalester student body, like that of many other elite liberal arts colleges, is, on the whole, extremely progressive. In my experience, many students are ready to censor and wage ad hominem attacks against anyone or anything with which they disagree.

Nevertheless, it is worth considering that someone lacking the context for Ms. Talepasand’s exhibit could come away with a very different meaning than she intended. That our administration paused the exhibit shows its willingness to listen and reflect on serious student concerns; that it just as quickly resumed the exhibit shows its commitment to free speech and a diversity of viewpoints.

Eliora Hansonbrook
St. Paul, Minn.

Transgender Rights

To the Editor:

Re “12 Trans Americans on Transgender Rights,” by Patrick Healy and Adrian J. Rivera (Opinion focus group, Feb. 12):

It is small consolation, but I bet that the people protesting so loudly about transgender rights are the same people who protested so loudly against integrated schools, interracial marriages, gay rights, same-sex marriages, abortion rights, immigration rights, climate change, women in the workplace, science and history taught in schools, and energy independence.

In all cases they have been vocal, and are eventually proven to be on wrong side of the issue.

Stephen T. Schreiber
Princeton N.J.

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