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A fowl person

Oh yes, Jimmy Breslin is so right about the Heifer Project [The gift of water buffalo, Dec. 11-17]. I first learned of this more than 10 years ago when my mother's church circle saved their collections for a year and sent a cow to Ethiopia.

I'm a "fowl" person and send chicken, duck or geese, usually for $20. They send a catalog of the recipients holding their goat or rabbit or even grasping a big goose, and they have such lucky looks on their faces. It makes you feel so good. I've also sent "shares" for a goat or a pig for as little as $10. They send you a nice card to send if you want to do this as a gift.

What really makes this even greater is when their animal gives birth; they give the offspring to a needy neighbor. I almost forgot -- they do get lessons on how to care for their animal.

-- Colleene Johnson

Colorado Springs

Federal Ponzi scheme

Regarding Jim Hightower's Nov. 20-26 column on Social Security: He's right. For beneficiaries, Social Security works. My mother is a total invalid; her Social Security benefit keeps her cared for in a hospital.

For taxpayers, he's wrong. Social Security began in 1935 as a "fully-funded" program. The government held Social Security revenues in an account for each contributor; the contributor got the money upon retirement.

In 1939, Social Security changed to its current "pay-as-you-go" status, co-mingling Social Security revenues with other federal revenue, creating a federal Ponzi scheme in which a shrinking pool of workers, their employers, and the self-employed pay ever-rising taxes to fund an expanding list of benefits to a growing pool of beneficiaries, and creating the myth that Social Security and Medicare taxes go directly to fund those programs.

Social Security began as an old-age benefit program, but morphed into an expensive disability/welfare program. Congress spends Social Security/Medicare taxes on anything and everything, so Uncle Sam back-fills the Social Security Trust Fund with special bonds that are redeemed with future federal revenues, and, therefore, pays Social Security/Medicare benefits with borrowed money. So, whether they work or not, recipients who pay income taxes fund part of their benefits through their income taxes and may have to pay income taxes on those benefits!

Considering that your employer must pay an amount equal to the Social Security/Medicare taxes withheld from your pay, an amount not shown on your pay statements or W-2s, you might look at "income" taxes differently. And, if your employer didn't have to pay Uncle Sam $1 or $2 an hour on your behalf, maybe you'd be getting some of that.

Had the program remained "fully-funded," the issue of Social Security solvency never would have arisen. What if that money had been invested by Uncle Sam and grown at passbook rates since 1935? There would be no national debt, no deficit spending, and no program would lack funding. Instead, because Uncle Sam played it crooked, it's a problem that must be solved within two generations, and you can be sure that Uncle Sam wants you healthy as long as you're paying in, but hopes you die the minute you become eligible to collect benefits.

And Hightower's upset because some politicians, who believe that what I earn is mine, want to allow me to privatize approximately 2 percent of my Social Security contribution for my own benefit. Get real, Jim!

-- Chris Messner

Colorado Springs

Christmas on the Margins

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the hood

We'd love to celebrate, but we're just not in the mood

You probably wonder why we're all annoyed

We're hardworking and well educated, but grossly underemployed

We put up the Christmas tree, but that's just for show

Can't afford to buy presents to put down below

It's wintertime, and everyone's spreading the flu

We can't afford healthcare; if we get it, we're screwed

You ask me why I don't just dip into my savings account

I would have socked some away, but I didn't have the minimum amount

When out in the driveway, I heard clanging, cussing, and discord

Which one of our cars is broken down this week? The Mazda? Or the Ford?

Daddy loves old cars, and he saves us money on labor

What he'd rather own outright is a brand new Le Sabre

On Republicans, On Democrats, keep shipping our jobs to India and Asia

This last wave of poverty and unemployment must not have fazed ya

Since 9-11, flags on every street corner are unfurled

We awoke to discover, America is the corporate headquarters for the rest of the world

Foreign-made American products carry such a huge price

If those CEOs weren't so greedy, it would have been nice

Our own government won't punish them, what an interesting twist

Their poker buddies and frat brothers, instead, gave them a slap on the wrist

Like it or not, Dubya and his cronies will drill on the shores of Alaska

Don't try to voice your opinion; politicians will say, "Who asked ya?"

During this holiday season, pray for our soldiers' safe return

When it comes to the Middle East, George will just never learn

Once a democracy, America does not understand its own people's plight

Not by the people or for the people, not the left, or the right

So when you're drinking your spiked eggnog, cozy and warm by the fire

Don't worry your pretty little heads about the hungry, poor, and tired

It's Christmastime; spread good cheer; take it light

Here's hoping tomorrow's better than tonight

-- Marlene Hyer

Colorado Springs

Cowardly acts

On Nov. 22, at 3 p.m. at the Bijou Street and I-25 on-ramp, my wife Pam was hit by a driver who hit and ran. This was during the Saturday snowstorm. My wife had just entered the lane to enter I-25 and was doing 25 mph. The coward who hit her was speeding, out of control, lost it and clipped her in the left front, throwing her into the right barrier with a 360-degree spin and into the left concrete divider.

She was injured in this hit and run, and her car has damages of $3,500. Does she, the victim, have recourse? Hell no. This coward that hit and ran probably had no insurance, no license or a suspended license, and was no doubt drunk on his ass. Why else did he not stop to exchange insurance information?

This coward has no spine or conscious brain. We hope he gets it tenfold in return.

-- Dean Manfrin

Canon City

Freedom from religion

I applaud the ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts in favor of same-sex marriage. The court's decision is a significant step forward in guaranteeing that the rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples in the commonwealth of Massachusetts are also available to its bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender citizens and I look forward to the day when a similar decision would be made in Colorado.

I am an active supporter of the Colorado Clergy for Equality in Marriage, a growing group of religious leaders throughout the state, numbering about 90 at this time, who are committed to the work of extending equal civil rights in marriage to all of Colorado's citizens.

One example of this work is the decision that many of us have made as individuals to refrain from signing civil marriage licenses for the heterosexual couples we marry until such time as same-sex couples are guaranteed the same rights in marriage.

I support the freedom of every individual and religious community to follow the teachings of their faith on marriage and any other spiritual matter. I also insist, however, on the freedom of religion guaranteed in the Constitution of our nation and believe that the state should not curtail the civil rights of some citizens, nor extend special privileges to others, on the basis of religion.

Our laws, which protect our freedom of religion, give all religious organizations the right to determine how they will conduct marriage ceremonies and who may be married in that religious tradition.

Our laws, especially here in Colorado, also give couples the right to get legally married in a civil ceremony with no religious involvement of any kind. It is the responsibility of federal, state and local government to uphold the civil rights of all citizens without discrimination on the basis of race, gender or religion.

While no religious congregation ought to be required to recognize a marriage that violates the teachings of their faith, no state ought to be permitted to withhold the civic and social benefits of marriage from any citizens wishing to enter into such a commitment, nor should the civil definition of marriage be governed by any particular religion.

-- Rev. Dr. Ellen Johnson-Fay

Senior Minister

All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church

Colorado Springs

Three strikes, you're out

Less than 100 years ago, my mother was disciplined in grammar school for attempting to write with her left hand. Her left-handedness was evil, at least according to the Bible as interpreted then.

When she was a teen-ager, women got the right to vote. They'd been denied that right since the founding of the United States largely because women were deemed inferior to men according to the Bible as interpreted then (and for some now).

She witnessed the aftereffects of slavery and the very real effects of segregation even though she was white. The justification for the persecution of the Negroes, as well as the Indians and indeed even the Mormons, all of whom were actively pursued and abused by forces of our government, was of course the Bible as interpreted then. It didn't help that the Mormons used much of the same Bible to declare that all other religions were an abomination unto God!

Now our government, largely because of the Bible as interpreted now by some but clearly not by all, seeks to prevent two persons from sharing their lives together in a loving, intimate relationship simply because they were born with the wrong genitals.

Have we not heard of "three strikes and you're out" -- let alone four or five or six? It's increasingly clear that the Bible's ability to guide us is not much better than that of the average Wall Street stockbroker. We are a representative democratic republic, at least in theory. To the degree that we become a theocracy, we are all endangered.

-- Dave Delage

Colorado Springs

Wrong then, wrong now

In response to your recent news story reporting that that water and wastewater rates might double for Springs customers: Just because it was wrong in the past to charge existing customers to subsidize new customers, does not mean it is correct to do that today!

These proposals are like when a child says, "All my friends are making out," and the parent answers, "If they jumped off the roof, would you follow along?"

-- Nick Werle

Colorado Springs

Give blood

The ultimate Holiday gift suggestion: Donate blood this month. You'll feel good and you'll be saving someone's life at the same time. It's easy, painless, fast, and afterward you can eat lots of cookies without feeling guilty. At Memorial Hospital Blood Bank you can even send a greeting to the person who will be receiving your "gift." Call Memorial for an appointment; they even have some Saturday hours: 365-5411. Or Penrose Hospital at 776-5822. "Your blood gives another chance ... another hug ... another laugh ..."

-- Judy Fair-Spaulding

Colorado Springs

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