Opinion

Letters to the Editor: May 9. 2012

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Student loans are financial shackles on the young

Re: "Fixing the problems in student lending, May 2

I've paid $13,000 to Sallie Mae on a loan of $13,000 for graduate school. (That's after paying many thousands of dollars prior to loan consolidation.) I now owe $29,000 due to a sequence of economic hardship forbearance periods. My interest rate is set at 9 percent.

I'm a journalist who graduated just as that industry began its freefall. Then the entire economy tanked.

Why would a government allow monetary shackles to accompany one's education? It's not our fault the world has been heisted by the greedy.

Karen Chaffraix

Warrenton

Why can't people have both jobs and pensions?

Re: "Times journalists fight for pensions, paper be damned," Editorial, April 25

I was sorry to read your editorial saying that the New York Times must choose between pensions and survival -- and criticizing its employees for wanting both as part of the American dream.Millions of Americans also want to find ways to keep both their jobs and their pensions.This is not an impossible dream, as hundreds of companies have managed to restructure and survive without eliminating their pension plans.

When companies have to sharpen their pencils to compete, it's tempting and sometimes necessary to sacrifice tomorrow's retirement in order to reduce today's costs.But plenty of companies have found ways to preserve pensions while reducing their costs.We should support -- not dismiss -- those efforts.

Companies know they can handle pension administration and investment decisions better than the average employee, but many companies want employees to share the risk.For them, hybrid plans combine the benefits of traditional pensions and 401(k)-type plans.

There are plenty of companies that leave employees to fend for themselves by offering a 401(k), matching employees' contributions, and forcing them to decide how much to save and how to invest it.But the result hasn't been more retirement savings or more secure retirements -- it's been less.

Retirement security requires that everyone do their part. We're living longer, so individuals will have to save more. Business needs to offer plans that make it easier for employees to save. Government doesn't' require retirement plans, but it can encourage companies to keep existing plans and try new approaches.

If everyone does their part, we can have both competitive companies and secure retirements. And that's no dream.

Josh Gotbaum

Director,

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation

Lawmakers failed to protect their constituents

Re: "O'Malley's wind power legislation dies," April 7

As a Maryland resident and environmental advocate, I was extremely disappointed to watch the Maryland Senate decline to vote on the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2012. Regardless of their political agenda or views on global warming, the fact that our legislative body did not pass a bill that is proven to prevent over 220 premature deaths over the course of 20 years is disturbing and unsettling.

Right now, 569 premature deaths occur every year due to Maryland's coal-fired generators. An offshore wind farm would greatly reduce our state's reliance on this toxic energy and diversify our energy sources. By not passing this bill, senators allowed Maryland to continue to deteriorate at the hand of pollution.

What is done is done for 2012, but we need to hold our legislators to their promise to protect us and make sure they vote for offshore wind in 2013.

Julia Benjamin

College Park

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