Not trying to alarm you, but ...
When a letter begins like this — “I don't want to alarm you, but” — it‘s a cinch it wants to alarm you.
Max Richtman's letter gets right down to boiling the juices of the elderly. The politicians of Washington, it shakes all bells, will take away or cut back Social Security and Medicare if you let them.
So go to your checkbook and then to your mailbox. Send Richtman's organization “membership” dues and your congressman a letter demanding no cuts in monthly benefits or the medical cost cushion. These safety nets were “promised” and “earned.” So let the government solve its trillion-dollar budget deficits out of somebody else's hide. Don't hang the national debt around the necks of retirees.
Richtman gives six pages to this temper stimulant for the up-in-years. He's president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, a Washington-based lobby that's been intent for 30 years on holding Congress' feet to the old voters' fire.
Trouble is, think how many other alarming messages might be in the mail on any given day.
A Committee to Save Our Cities from Unimaginable Destruction might very justifiably upset us all about the nation's lack of a space-based shield against intercontinental nuclear missiles. We're vulnerable to the crazies: North Korea, Iran or jihadists who commandeer a submarine. A “star wars” defense sneered at in President Reagan's time is actually feasible. And cheap, considering the millions of lives to be saved and threats to be averted.
And where's the Committee for Bridges, Roads, Dams, Levees and Sewer Systems? All are aging and deteriorating at a (hate to say it) alarming rate. Trillions ought to be spent bringing them up to snuff, starting yesterday.
Committees to save the schools are legion. But how about a Committee to Save the Schools and Save Money Doing It?
Such a lobby might raise an alarm (as President Obama unaccountably won't) against the unsustainable increase in babies born out of wedlock. Lacking fathers at home to help model behavior, kids are hard to teach at school and unfortunately easy to graduate into prison. Richtman's constituents must shake their heads at waste like that.
The Farm Lobby gets alarmed at any notion to quit requiring corn-based ethanol in gasoline. Where is the consumer groups' outrage at what this does to food prices? And the environmentalists' dismay at the costly lack of help to climate change?
Adequate pay, equipment and medical care for the nation's military forces surely head most priority spending lists.
Unavoidable conclusion: Everything government does makes some sense to somebody.
Hence the late economist Milton Friedman's suggestion voiced in Pittsburgh years ago. The only way to cut a government budget, or any budget, he said, is across the board — everything — 10 percent. Under such a gun, each department would identify the least essential programs and make the trims that lobbyists' alarms will not allow piecemeal.
Who knows how our seniors might respond if snips in their safety nets helped to preserve the overarching, the Great Safety Net... a solvent America?
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Fights reported, shots fired outside Monroeville Mall restaurant
- Defense shines in Pitt football spring game
- Western Pa. veterans get wheelchairs, mobility
- Lawsuit: Pittsburgh Public Schools should have known officer was abusing boys
- Step up in class no problem for Mars tennis team
- Butler players help Team Pittsburgh win Showcase title
- Penguins pushing to sell playoff tickets
- ‘Bride’ goes on at Geyer theater in Scottdale
- New Mars superintendent kept tabs on district’s successes
- Mackey: For Pens’ Winnik, playing with Crosby an ongoing process
- Marte’s bat, Worley’s arm show improvement in Pirates win