Letters: Astrology, retirement, priorities

Letters in a computer with red mailbox flag


Kai Ryssdal: We're going to start letters today with some definitions. First, astronomy. From Merriam Webster's, it's the study of objects and matter outside the earth's atmosphere. Astrology: the supposed influences of the stars and planets on human affairs. And, humor: something that is or is designed to be amusing. See also on occasion, Marketplace. Our mailbox has been overflowing with comments about a story we aired last week connecting astrology and this country's economic fate. While cyber-debates about Pluto in Capricorn and why that story ran at all raged on, Tracey Bushman of Salt Lake City, Utah wrote to say she thought most people missed the point entirely.

Tracy Bushman: What's more "appalling" or "disappointing," astrological predictions about a hopeful future for our country, or the rampant corruption and greed that drove some of us to need hope like this?

Commentator Tim Eavenson raised blood pressures, too. Tim said that at 28 years old, he's thinking retirement's not really a possibility for him. So he's pretty much ready to work 'til he drops. Tom Morford of Peru, Ill. and a whole bunch of others said such a young'un has no idea what he's talking about.

Tom Morford: You seem to think that your body and mind are going to stay the same and that you will have the choices you have now. As you pass through the decades ahead think back to when you wrote this and I am certain you will just have to shake your head and admit I had no clue.

This was clearly a generational thing, though. Here's 30-year-old Devin Martin of Oakland, Calif.

Devin Martin: I too am fine with the concept social security probably won't be there for me. It's there for my mom, who's just entered retirement, and that's good enough. I'm far more concerned with access to health care and, of course, keeping the dollar and our overall economy solvent for my grand kids.

Speaking of grand kids, commentator Robert Reich has one now. On New Year's Eve he mentioned how the birth of little Ella -- during the worst economic downturn of his life and hopefully hers -- has made him realize what's really important. Kitty Bennett of Saint Pete Beach, Fla. said right on.

Kitty Bennett: We've lost 40 percent of our savings, and yes, it is a bummer, but his point about how having grand kids changes your outlook is one I really need to keep reminding myself of!

And finally, from the Marketplace desk of you learn something new every single day, last week we brought you a story about the acronyms of 2008. We talked about TARP and ARMs, and FDIC -- which some of you pointed is where we went wrong. It seems FDIC is an initialism, not an acronym. Initials are just that, we say the initials. Acronyms apparently spell a word, like SCUBA or RADAR. If you've got a correction for us, a complement or a FYI about our coverage, go ahead and tell us. Go to our website, it's Marketplace.org. Click on that link that says "contact."

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Hi Dale, My comment was extremely edited. It was also in response to a commentator suggesting that if he could trade retirement for the security of knowing his family would always have health insurance he'd gladly do it. I'm concerned that every time changes are suggested for social security (or just about any other government program), howls of protest go out. SS, in particular, seems susceptible to the complaint: "I paid in and you can't take it away from me." I'm just saying that those of us who are young enough to make other plans are willing to do so if it allows us to address more important needs. People in their 70's routinely run marathons, as well as companies and large government agencies. Heck, one just about got elected President. Why should perfectly healthy, capable, older people collect benefits when hard-working people can't get health insurance for their kids (at any price, in some cases, if those kids have ever had any kind of serious health condition)? Life expectancy is over a decade longer than what it was when SS was established. It's time to raise the retirement age. I'm perfectly willing to bear the full brunt of that. We also need to pay down some of this enormous debt, and part of doing that will require paying more taxes. I'm fine with that, too. All my life the solution to every national problem seems to have been: cut taxes. Honestly, what other situation in life is the solution to a difficult problem to sacrifice LESS? Yet our nation always seems to think that's the solution to our problems. I'm saying the younger generation, at least the part of it I know, seems willing to sacrifice MORE. As a nation, we have crushing debt, inadequate infrastructure, skyrocketing education costs, and countless other problems. We need to stop trying to solve our problems by "going shopping" (reference to the moment Bush was asked what ordinary Americans can do in response to the various crises following 9/11). Once again, some good ol-fashioned hard work and sacrifice is in order. Thanks for your comments. I hope you see mine and it clarifies what I said for you.

I agree with Dale Coberly, the listener that posted above. Marketplace's bias toward the Stockmarketeers wanting the privatizing of the social Security system is showing. We shouldn't for get Marketplace is bought and paid for by its corporate sponsors.

the letter from the listener who was okay that social security would not be there for him is evidence that you are not doing your job.

there is no reason that social security would not be there for him. a careful reading of the Trustees Report (not the Summary) shows that a twenty dollar per week increase in the payroll tax in about 2040, when the average pay will have increased by over 300 dollars per week, would enable social security to pay the present benefit levels (replacement level) essentially forever.

this is too good a bargain for people to say no to. but if you don't help them understand it they will never realize they had the choice.

i am realize you get many opinions from people who don't know as much as they think they do. but this is important enough that i am prepared to submit any details or proof you would need to follow up on this.

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