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Letting people control their Social Security funds

Regarding your article "Stock Nation" (Feb. 1): The rise of worker capitalism in America is indeed historic. The article states, "There's been no stampede yet to support privatization of Social Security." Perhaps not on Capitol Hill, but ordinary workers are keen to embrace personal retirement accounts.

The most recent Gallup poll shows 62 percent of Americans want to "put a portion of their Social Security payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts that would be invested in stocks and bonds," with only 33 percent opposed. This constitutes an almost 50 percent increase in support since March 1999.

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Likewise, an August 1999 Zogby International poll showed support for personal accounts among every race, gender, political, and working-age group. By 2-to-1, respondents were more likely to vote for a presidential candidate in 2000 who supports personal-retirement accounts.

Stock ownership raises income, increases economic growth, and equalizes the distribution of wealth. Personal retirement accounts would mean that all workers would see those benefits.

Andrew G. Biggs Washington

Trying Indonesia military for East Timor

In response to your article "Responsibility for rampages" (Feb. 2): Indonesian investigation of human rights violations must continue.

The prosecution of military officers and others responsible for the violence surrounding the UN-organized independence vote in East Timor would be healthy for Indonesia's fragile democracy. Nevertheless, justice for the East Timorese killed and displaced should not depend on Indonesian action against a still-powerful military.

The international community has its own responsibility to act. The scale of the crimes committed in East Timor certainly constituted crimes against humanity. These actions were part of a systematic attempt to undermine and then overturn a UN-organized vote in East Timor, whose inhabitants and most of the world's nations have never recognized the legitimacy of Indonesia's occupation.

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An international tribunal is needed to deal with crimes committed against the international community, as well as against the East Timorese. A recent UN investigation recommended a joint Indonesian, East Timorese, and international tribunal under UN auspices. This would ensure that all of those seeking justice are represented.

John M. Miller Brooklyn, N.Y.

New Hampshire income tax

Your Feb. 1 article "The new New Hampshire" was an interesting analysis of changes in New Hampshire. However, the article stated that we have no income tax.

Since I have been paying an income tax for the last 50 years, the statement is either a lack of understanding of our tax system or an oversimplicification to make a point. In New Hampshire we pay a 5 percent tax on every cent of interest and dividends income. What we don't have is an earned-income tax. Many here think we need one in order that the state can properly support education rather than letting it fall so heavily on property taxes, with the consequent inequities.

Elizabeth A. Steele Tamworth, N.H.

Can Europe absorb more immigrants?

Regarding "Can a graying Europe still support itself?" (Jan.21.): What a sad commentary on the human race that letting immigrants into Europe is "clearly not possible" for political and social reasons according to a UN demographer. It's a great solution. What's stopping us from rebalancing world population?

Christine Matthews Washington

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Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society


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