09-22-2016 Letters and Commentary

social security header holland 07-23-2015

 It is healthy to be skeptical in a world of uncertainties. Major news networks sometimes broadcast conflicting facts that require a bit of research to verify. There is even a day in October dedicated to skeptics. So, this is the perfect time to tell all the skeptics that there is no reason to think Social Security would not be here for you well into the future.  Recently, the Social Security Board of Trustees released its 76th annual report to Congress presenting the financial status of the Social Security trust funds for the short term and over the next 75 years. We are pleased that legislation signed into law by President Obama last November averted a near-term shortfall in the Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund that was detailed in a previous report.  With that small, temporary reallocation of the Social Security contribution rate, the DI fund will now be able to pay full benefits until 2023, and the retirement fund will be adequate into 2035. It is important that members of Congress act well before 2023 in order to strengthen the finances of the program. As a whole, Social Security is fully funded until 2034, and after that it is about three-quarters financed.  Many people wonder if Social Security will be there for them. Here is a fact that will relieve any skepticism you might have: the increased cost of providing Social Security benefits for Baby Boomers is less than the nation’s increase in spending was for public education when the baby boomers were children.  Put your skepticism aside and rest assured that Social Security is with you today and will be with you tomorrow. You can read the entire report at www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/TR/2016.


READ THE TCR ONLINE… the new online edition of the Tri-City Record is now up and running.  Folks on the go can now read their local newspaper on their phone, I-pad or lap top any time.   Go to Tricityrecord.com for subscription information.   Paid Tri-City Record subscribers can also read the paper online… email Amy at tcrsubscriptions@gmail.com for the link. ROAD KILL…there was a flurry of interest this past spring/summer when state lawmakers briefly discussed raising the speed limit on certain rural freeways to 80 miles per hour.  Some law enforcement weighed in with the opinion that most drivers were traveling safely at 80 mph and officers were not ticketing them.   The insurance industry, not surprisingly, took the stance that higher speeds were inherently more dangerous and accidents at higher speeds resulted in higher mortality rates.  The issue was quietly dropped, but like the fireworks issue and the motorcycle helmet issue, now that the public has been given a taste of the idea, the speed limit increase will become law this year or next.   Personally I think a high speed limit, without massive road repair and increased speed limit enforcement, is just an open door to more accidents and fatalities.   Also needed is some common sense adjustment to the existing road rules on the freeways now.   Have you noticed there are no longer truck speed limit signs on I-94 (at least near here)? There is a single sign, periodically, that reads the speed limit is 70 and below it… trucks 60. Just opposite the sign (west of Coloma) is a sign that reads… keep right except when passing on the two-lane roadway.   Now if the car speed limit is 70 (and most are traveling 80 mph) and trucks are restricted to 60 mph (and most are traveling at 70), the cars are continually in the passing lane. Or the cars are weaving in and out of the trucks traveling ten miles an hour slower.   This past week on a ride to Benton Harbor, I was slowed to under the speed limit by a car in the left (passing) lane while there were no trucks on the right.   Why were we traveling in the passing lane? We were in the wrong lane because the right (travel lane) was a washboard of repair patches, cracks, and potholes caused by little or no maintenance and heavy truck traffic.    Our lawmakers need to fix the roads first before raising the speed limit on any roads.  GOOD MEMORIES… My brother-in-law Steve and I shared a passion for the outdoors on the water that has lasted a half century.   Shortly after marrying his lovely sister Anne and the start up of our respective families, Steve and I bonded over some adventures that could have been disastrous but happily ended well.   We were canoeing on Lake Huron in some heavy wind and waves. A series of breaking waves on a sandbar far from shore flipped us over and swamped the canoe. The canoe sank in 12 foot of water and there we were treading water with just our paddles for buoyancy. I insisted we get the canoe off the bottom, saying, “Dad will kill me if I lose his canoe.”   After several tries, we were able to get the canoe on a shallower sandbar where we could flip it over and board. Finally on getting back in the canoe we discovered the wind and waves had driven us several miles from where we had started.    A few years later, we entered a trout stream in the Upper Peninsula. Steve sent me up stream toward a giant beaver dam while he went downstream. I slogged a mile or so upstream and was faced with a large beaver pond. My plan was to fish the pond, but the water was too deep to wade.   I climbed out and trudged through thickets of brambles and swamp. Soon I realized I had no clue were the creek was. I backtracked as best I could but many times I was detoured by new territory. Close to panic, and with visions of joining the hundreds of lost souls in the great north woods, I forced myself to stop and sit down on a mosquito-infested stump.   Without my thrashing and bashing through the woods, I could hear the soft gurgle of the stream. Soon I was happily sloshing downstream in cool clear water (tasted good too).   Abruptly, around a bend, sat Steve very near where we had started about four hours earlier. “Where’s your fish?” he asked. At my reply “no fish” and the windy story of my near catastrophe of being lost in the swamp, he said. “You fish like you canoe.”   We had many more adventures, catching pike in Little Bay DeNoc, brook trout at Bony Falls, and walleye in the fog on Big Bay.   Sadly any chance of new adventures with him ended last week when Steve died peacefully following a meal with family and friends.   I am blessed