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Letters to the Editor

At least tell the truth about Social Security

To the editor:

Once again, I am compelled to respond to a letter by Diane Logan that appeared in The Sentinel on Friday, Oct. 23. The letter is purported to be historical but in fact is simply blatant lies.

In her letter, Ms. Logan provides four points that she uses to prove that Democrats are endangering Social Security. Unfortunately, none of them are factual. For those that want the truth please go to https://www.ssa.gov/history/InternetMyths2.html?fbclid=IwAR0iY8ePNi6-yQgqW41jN.

For those without internet access, I have condensed the biggest lies with quotes taken directly from the Social Security website in a section where myths about Social Security are debunked.

Ms. Logan’s first assertion regarding Social Security maintains that from its inception, Social Security was a “completely voluntary program.” According to the Social Security website, “Persons working in employment covered by Social Security are subject to the FICA payroll tax. Like all taxes, this has never been voluntary. From the first days of the program to the present, anyone working on a job covered by Social Security has been obligated to pay their payroll taxes.”

Her second assertion states, “Originally the money participants put into the program would be deductible from their income.” The Social Security website states clearly that, “There was never any provision of law making the Social Security taxes paid by employee’s deductible for income tax purposes. In fact, the 1935 law expressly forbid this idea, in Section 803 of Title VIII.”

Ms. Logan goes on to contend that Lyndon Johnson changed Social Security from the independent trust fund into the general fund so that Congress could spend it. This is what the Social Security website has to say.

“There has never been any change in the way the Social Security program is financed or the way that Social Security payroll taxes are used by the federal government. The Social Security Trust Fund was created in 1939 as part of the Amendments enacted in that year. From its inception, the Trust Fund has always worked the same way. The Social Security Trust Fund has never been ‘put into the general fund of the government.’ Most likely this question comes from a confusion between the financing of the Social Security program and the way the Social Security Trust Fund is treated in federal budget accounting. Starting in 1969 (due to action by the Johnson Administration in 1968), the transactions to the Trust Fund were included in what is known as the ‘unified budget.’ This means that every function of the federal government is included in a single budget. This is sometimes described by saying that the Social Security Trust Funds are ‘on-budget.’ This budget treatment of the Social Security Trust Fund continued until 1990 when the Trust Funds were again taken ‘off-budget.’ This means only that they are shown as a separate account in the federal budget. But whether the Trust Funds are ‘on-budget’ or ‘off-budget’ is primarily a question of accounting practices. It has no effect on the actual operations of the Trust Fund itself.”

Her final assertion is that the Democratic Party began giving Social Security payments to immigrants. According to the Social Security website, “Neither immigrants nor anyone else is able to collect Social Security benefits without someone paying Social Security payroll taxes into the system. The conditions under which Social Security benefits are payable, and to whom, can be found in the pamphlets available on our website. The question confuses the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program with Social Security. SSI is a federal welfare program and no contributions, from immigrants or citizens or anyone else, is required for eligibility. Under certain conditions, immigrants can qualify for SSI benefits. The SSI program was an initiative of the Nixon Administration and was signed into law by President Nixon on October 30, 1972.”

Please note that it was the Nixon Administration that began this initiative.

The internet is a wonderful thing. It puts a world of good information and a world of bad information at our fingertips. It is our responsibility to separate fact from fiction. This is especially so when we are hoping to be published. I urge Ms. Logan to confirm her sources and use valid information. Not doing so, is a disservice to her and her readers.

Harry M. Geedey

Lewistown

Garden board thankful for recent generosity

To the editor:

As members of the Lewistown Area Community Garden Board, we would like to recognize some local folks, as we’ve been the grateful recipients of some pretty incredible generosity.

First, we are fairly confident that we would be unable to maintain the huge common areas and walkways in the garden without the annual assistance of United Way Day of Caring volunteers. Many thanks to the United Way for hosting this event. This is the second year that they’ve paired us with wonderful people.

Also, we would like to thank Thrivent Financial for their assistance in buying supplies. Their grant allowed us to purchase two concrete jersey barriers for our compost area, which was being badly contained in rapidly deteriorating wooden pallets. We won’t have to worry about that ever again. Thank you, Thrivent.

United Way paired us with a group of volunteers from First Quality this year, and they were truly amazing. John Prendergast walked the garden in advance, and communicated with us several times about the project. They all arrived at dawn with a tractor, and dump trailers, and tools. They worked diligently to remove debris, smooth topsoil, spread wood chips in the common areas, straighten our leaning arbor, and they hung a sign for us. When we ran out of wood chips, they ran to go get more — twice. By early afternoon, they had completely transformed the garden. We are so grateful to all of them.

We are wrapping up the fourth season of the community garden, but as a board, this is only our second year. We added COVID and drought to our list of challenges in 2020, but we have a wonderful group of resilient community gardeners. Also, there are times when our spouses are hauled into the garden for their assistance. (Thanks, Mike Buffington). We’re looking forward to resuming garden workshops and public celebrations as soon as we are able!

Linda Boss, Jo Ann Smith, Kiernan Schalk, Lisa Knudson, Rachael Steinbach, Breanne Bailey and Sara Buffington

The Lewistown Area

Gardening Board

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