Letters to the editor, Aug. 22
Hernando TodayA note to Biden
Published: August 22, 2012
Published: August 22, 2012
I am a 79-year-old senior who enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Korean War right out of high school when I was 18.
My first Christmas away from home in December 1952 was aboard a troop ship. I have never been more ashamed of my country than when I listen to you with your obvious racial overtones.
How dare you defile all those who have stood up and defended our country. I served with blacks, Hispanics, etc. and never did I ever see such obvious violations as have come out of your mouth.
I have always respected the office of the President of the United States, regardless of who was in office. But I pray to God that our President does not approve of such boorish behavior as you have recently displayed.
Melone's liberal bias
You forgot to put the rest of what Paul Ryan said to those rude people at his speech in Iowa, But, of course, you liberal media-types love to spin things to make the Republican look like the bad guy. But I guess we have come to learn that's just what you media liberals do.
Those men and women were removed not for what they were saying, they were removed for being very rude, loud and disruptive while Ryan was trying to give his speech to people that wanted to hear him.
Mr. Ryan did, in fact, handle the situation with much dignity, so much more than you, I will add.
So there, Mary Jo, is what you really should have told the people correctly if you wanted to discuss that situation.
Robert Van Istendal
The facts about Congress' benefits
It isn't often that I write to defend Congress, most of what they do is indefensible, but several writers have given misleading information concerning the benefits accorded to a representative or senator.
One has stated that after one term a congressman is entitled to full medical and retirement benefits. Not so. Congress is covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), as, incidentally, most other federal employees are as well. So from the outset there isn't any special treatment.
The FERS retirement benefits are vested after five years of federal service. However, that vesting does not mean that benefits are paid immediately after leaving Congress. Under FERS an employee can retire at 50 with 25 years service, 55 with 20 years service, or at age 62 with reduced benefits.
The calculation currently used is 1.5 percent of the high three salary times years of service. So a senator leaving after one term would be eligible for 9 percent of his high three at age 65, less at age 62.
As for health benefits, this costs the member of Congress according to the plan they select from those available to all other federal employees. Currently, they pay 28 percent of the cost.
And there is an additional requirement that an employee be covered by the federal health program for the three years immediately prior to retirement.
Members of Congress without a doubt have a good many perks, but in the area of retirement and health benefits they are in the same canoe as the low-paid secretary in the office.
Setting the record straight
Last week I wrote a letter to the Hernando Today "apologizing" for me and my family's lack of paying our fair share of taxes. As expected, some of the local "so-called experts" chimed in on the paper's website to tell me that I was wrong, and I didn't get it.
As the Hernando Today has a policy now of only allowing comments on their site through a Facebook account (why they have this policy, I have no idea, and I refuse to have a Facebook page, as it seems silly to me), I've decided to write another letter to respond to these "experts."
First of all, it was these "experts" who didn't get it. The letter was sarcastic. The "experts" must have missed that. The upper and middle classes of this country pay the vast bulk of taxes, with the lower classes paying almost zero.
If the "rich," as President Obama would like to see, pay twice what they are paying now, it won't make a dent in the debt he has incurred for this country!
If he wants people to "pay their fair share," what about the people who pay nothing in taxes?
Another so called "expert" on the website said that as I worked in a government job for 26 years, and had a pension and Social Security, I was getting a "handout." Let me be absolutely clear here — I earned every penny of my pension and Social Security by working and paying into it for all those years!
So, before you tell me that I don't get it, talk to the people in this country who don't work and/or pay taxes to this country.
Absentee the way to go
I tried my hand at being a poll worker in Hernando County. A poll deputy, actually. Assigned outside to keep order, greet arriving voters and direct them to have their photo ID out of the wallet and turn their cell phones off.
I was with a very nice group of fellow poll workers who worked inside where it was a bit cooler.
It was a long, 14-hour day and extremely slow. Very few voters came to the precinct. As I was sitting and standing there, I began to wonder why? Not why few came but why any came at all. Not about casting the ballot but driving to the polling place.
I voted absentee. I have been voting absentee for the last several voting cycles. What I do not understand is why most voters do not cast their ballots that way.
Voting absentee, I am home. I am comfortable. I have a refreshing beverage and a snack if I wish and I am not rushed in any way. I am able to view the ballot at my leisure and take my time deciding.
If I have a question about a candidate or an issue, I have access to all kinds of reference material so I might make the most informed decision. My sole travel is walking to my mail box, which I do every day anyway.
Compare this to driving to the "correct" polling place, finding a parking place, putting up with the weather, walking through the obstacle course of campaign signs just to get to the front door. Then the further systemic procedures of producing valid photo identification, silencing my cellphone and finding my correct place to obtain the proper ballot.
Now I can vote — standing up, of course. If it is a crowded precinct, I have the pressure of lines forming waiting for me to finish.
Also, I have no way to check on a person or a question unless I went to the trouble of doing all that before I left home.
Very well, now I have finished casting my vote so I can face the weather again, trek back to my car to drive home, burning more fuel and adding to the greenhouse gases. All the while those nice people working for the post office are driving around because they must.
It is easy to obtain the absentee ballot. It is delivered to my door, or at least my mailbox. And it is easy to return. The 45 cents for the stamp is about what it would cost me to just start my car, so I save money in the bargain.
Perhaps someone wiser and deeper than I have an answer that makes sense, but I am at a loss as to why everyone does not vote absentee.