New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 21, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
A □ Herald-Zeitung □ Thursday, August 21,1997
I To talk with Managing Editor Margaret Edmonson about the Opinion page, call 625-H44, Ext. 220.
A, ■ ■Opinion
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QUO TABLE“Large doses of government secrecy, like large doses (rf patent medicines, may destroy the body we are trying to save.”
Carroll Ginder journalistU.S. should take lesson from Britain
Having lived on Canyon Lake the past 14 years, through drought and floods, including the “great” flood of 1992,1 have watched Canyon Lake area businesses struggle wit the vagaries of nature. This year’s flood conditions certainly presented financial difficulties for many developing businesses. However, the damage could have been much worse.
Unlike the flood of 1992, there was not a panicky, publicized total closing of the lake and river for an extended period. This year, the County Commissioners and Corps of Engineers responded quickly with a plan to preserve the recreational uses of the lake and river as best that safety would allow. Not much can be done for the river businesses in time of drought; however, federal flood control management combined with county-level recreational facility management, the resources of Canyon Lake and the Guadalupe River can best be made to serve the needs of the surrounding area. A special thanks to Commissioner Jack Dawson, County Engineer Tom Homseth, County Commissioners Court and Comal County Sheriff’s Department for their hard work in providing management for the intense use of the Tom Creek Boat Ramp (sanitation, waste disposal, crowd control) during the Fourth of July holidays and for the publicized, prompt reopening of the other county boat ramps. These intense efforts combined with a preparedness plan made the unbalanced use of a small subdivision boat ramp serve the needs of a five-county area.
It is my hope that the future improvements to the county’s Canyon Lake facilities take into account the possibility of flood conditions during the recreational season and would be designed and operated accordingly. It seems the Corps of Engineers (note the word engineer) is the first to close and last to open its recreational facilities during these times despite the intense demag^for public access. Perhaps elevation of restroom facilities and cKmH-ed road access to boat ramps is done in many coastal areas, taking into account the inevitability of high water, should be a design criteria for future park repairs and improvements This could reduce costs and recovery time for our federal park investments.
As a resident and business owner in the Canyon Lake area, I appreciate representation in county government and the federal Corps’ recognition of the need to coordinate the use of Canyon Lake for both flood control and recreational purposes.
John Laughlin Canyon Lake
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The budget agreement reached last week by Congress and the White House allows for a token of 30,000 Medicare recipients to establish their own medical savings accounts. It is a small step toward financial independence and security fortheekferfy and for the Baby Boomers whose retirement will break die Social Security “bank” if something isn’t done soon. That something should resemble what the British have created.
* Both the Labor and Conservative parties have agreed to partially privatize die British Social Security system, permitting workers to redirect a portion of their payroll taxes into stocks, bonds and other private investments. Unlike the American system, which taxes workers to pay their retirees, die British system allows workers to save their money at high interest rates and guarantee that even if markets go sour, their benefits will be at least as generous as die state system.
Nearly three-fourths of the British work force has already elected to enroll in private pension plans. They are seeing a 13 percent per year median return on their investments (compared to just 2 percent in the American Social Security system). The lighter government burden has led forecasters to predict that Britain will have completely eliminated its national debt (not its annual deficit its total accumulated debt) by the year 2030. That’s about the time the United States will face economic disaster if it refuses to reform its Social Security entitlement. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that if nothing is done,
die U.S. debt will have soared to $39 trillion by 2030 and Social Security will go bankrupt a year earlier.
An analysis of the success, of the British system has been written for The Heritage Foundation by Louis Enoff, former deputy director of the Social Security Administration, and Robert Moflfit, Heritage’s deputy director of domestic policy studies. They write that Britain’s two-tier system consists of a basic state pension, created at die end of World War Two, and a supplemental layer of benefits called the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme, established in 1978.
As in America, need quickly outstripped resources, so now British workers have two choices: They can remain in SERPS, or they can take a payroll tax cut equal to 4.6 percent of their annual earnings (about one-third of their total required pension contribution) and invest it in a private pension plan. This would be either a company pension plan or a personal plan similar to our IRAs.
The choice has produced private pensions worth more than $1 trillion, an amount approaching the size of the entire British economy and exceeding the pension funds of all other European nations com
bined. With demands on government reduced, public debt has significantly declined.
British lawmakers guaranteed that privatization would give workers benefits at least as generous as those provided by government pensions! Under British law, .the investment companies managing private pension funds must provide workerswith as much retirement income as they would have under SERPS. In practice, private pension plans are delivering incomes more than double SERPS. Any British worker who wants to remain in SERPS may do so and those workers and retirees already in SERPS suffer no benefit cuts.
Enoff and Moffit say the British model would work in the United States. And last year, the best option among three recommended by President Clinton’s Social Security Advisory Council to restructure Social Security would have adopted a version of die British model. At the time, opponents called die idea “radical.” The British don’t think so. They’re on the way to real financial stability and the elimination of their national debt. British workers and retirees are receiving real financial security because it’s their money and most will no longer have to rely on government taxation of their fellow citizens. i
On this issue, the United States should follow the lead of the mother country, and soon.
(Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He will be speaking at the New Braunfels Civic Center on Nov. IL)
Media simply not working for public interest
An informed citizen is the media’s most important product.
Journalism should focus on the public’s need to know.
The Greek orator Cicero observed that one is never more persuasive than when one is an advocate for the people — for their interests.
He did not say an advocate for some people, not just the nch or poor. And he certainly did not say for a personal point of view.
Which raises the question, how long has it been since you read a newspaper article or listened to a broadcast and felt that the reporter was working for you, that he or she sincerely believed you had a need to know and was committed to being your humble servant, carefully and accurately laying out the facts as they were perceived by interested parties?
Today in History
By The Associated Press
Today is Thursday, Aug. 21, the 233rd day of 1997. There are 132 days left in the year
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Aug. 21,1959, President Eisenhower signed an executive order proclaiming Hawaii the 50th state of the union.
On this date:
In 1680, Pueblo Indians took possession of Santa Fe, N M., after chiving out the Spanish.
In 1831, former slave Nat Turner led a violent insurrection in Virginia. (He was later executed.)
Is such a commitment reflected in a producer’s decision to routinely lead the nightly news with murders and robberies?
Consider areas where you have particular knowledge and experience - your job, your business or profession, your church or community. Can you recall reading or listening to a report on one of those areas and thinking, “That’s all wrong. That’s not how things work. That’s not what happened”?
if you have had that experience, what confidence does that give you in media
In 1858, the famous debates between Senatorial contenders Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas began.
In 1878, the American Bar Association was founded in Saratoga, N.Y.
In 1940, exiled Communist revolutionary Leon Trotsky died in Mexico City from wounds inflicted by an assassin.
In 1945, President Truman ended the Lend-Lease program that had shipped some $50 billion in aid to America’s Allies during World War ll.
In 1983, Philippine opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino Jr., ending a self-imposed exile in the United States, was
reports of other events and activities where you have no direct knowledge?
In your role as a parent, you let nothing stand between you and the facts concerning your children when you must make a decision for them.
As an employee, you personally make sure you have good, solid information before acting.
As a professional advising others, you actively seek out the best available information before giving advice.
As a business person, you gather and evaluate information about the market and your competitors before you commit to a new venture.
But as citizens, we too frequently accept what we are told. We lean too heavily on the crutch of opinion, the stale, canned variety marketed through the media. How, them, are we to know, to act effectively to hold our elected
shot dead moments after stepping off a plane at Manila International Airport
In 1986, more than 1,700 people died when toxic gas erupted from a volcanic lake in the West African nation of Cameroon.
In 1991, the hard-line coup against Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev collapsed in the face of a popular uprising led by Russian federation President Bom N. Yeltsin.
Ten years ago: Sgt. Clayton Lone-tree, the first Marine ever court-martialed for spying, was convicted in Quantico, Va., of passing secrets to the KGB after becoming romantically involved with a Soviet woman while
A major share of the problem today falls at the feet of the media. They simply are not working to serve the public interest.
Citizens know it and continue to turn away to alternative sources of information. The major networks’ share of the news audience has been cut in half since 1975 even as our population has grown. Newspaper readership has been in decline for years.
But in a free and open society, accountability begins and ends with citizens, not the media.
Good citizenship is insisting on having the facts about community and national issues.
To be self-governing, citizens need the facts.
(Lamar Smith represents the 21 st District in the U.S. Congress.)
serving as a U.S. Embassy guard in Moscow. (Lonetree ended up serving eight years in a military prison, and was released in February 1996.)
Five years age: The day after the close of the Republican National Convention in Houston, the two major party candidates traded hard Mows, with President Bush deriding Bill Clinton as a ’’wishy-washy” leader, and Clinton lashing back at Bosh as a ’’great fear-monger.”
One year ago: President Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, aimed at making health insurance ier to obtain and keep.