Published Friday, January 4, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 4:48 pm
The Public Pulse, January 4

Congress needs character

Currently, the House and Senate have a deserved 10 percent approval rating. Why it’s not zero percent is beyond explanation! A lack of statesmanship and leadership runs rampant through their vapid ranks.

Which elected official can you point to and hold up as a model for statesmanship? None comes to mind. This shortage of statesmanship exists from the top on down, and both parties are guilty. They puff up their chests and fight to the death for their party lines.

The only “goals” that they never fail to achieve are (1) constantly burdening the “salt of the earth,” aka the middle class, who truly put their shoulders to the wheels that drive this economy; and (2) growing the federal debt.

How about these “leaders” making their true bosses — the American voters — proud of their leadership? They should show us they can be efficient and altruistic and do what is right for the future of America.

Show some character and act like statesmen.

Bill Manning, Omaha

Not a lot of wiggle room

The president has a simple method of compromise. It is “his way or the highway.”

James Hannam, Omaha

Nelson worked for all people

As I was watching the swearing-in of new members of Congress, I was somewhat saddened in realizing Sen. Ben Nelson is no longer a part of the group. I appreciated The World-Herald’s outstanding editorial Sunday on Nelson’s dozen-year career as governor and senator in the Cornhusker State.

With the departure of Sen. Nelson, we have lost another of the dwindling number of congressional representatives who actually work for all of us — not only for one faction or political view.

As news coverage has indicated, Sen. Nelson has been very well respected by many of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I do not believe that one vote (Obamacare/“the Cornhusker kickback”) does anything to damage the senator’s reputation and the respect he has earned.

I will be forever grateful to then-Gov. Nelson for the special favor he granted one evening while in Kearney for an event. He made a special visit to my late mother-in-law’s 80th birthday party and presented her with an admiralship in the “Nebraska Navy.” That framed certificate became Mom’s most prized possession, and she would point it out to all of her visitors after she moved to a care home a few years later.

Thanks, Ben, for all you have done for our state and for many of us personally. You are a class act.

Paul Wice, Kearney, Neb.

A modest Social Security reform

Social Security is going broke, and the lockbox that holds the funds has been raided by politicians from both parties. Here is a simple plan to transform Social Security into Individual Security:

The current tax holiday, which lowered the employee portion of FICA from 6.5 percent to 4.5 percent, expired on Jan. 1.

Rather than have the government resume collecting that additional 2 percent, let’s give employees a choice. They could continue to receive the additional 2 percent as regular income, or they could deposit it into an Individual Security account.

This individual account would be pretax, and the account would grow tax-free. If the employee waited until his or her normal retirement age to redeem the Individual Security account, all money accumulated would also be tax-free. The money could be available for withdrawal anytime before normal retirement age, but at current income tax rates.

Since a 2 percent reduction in FICA taxes would have a negative impact on traditional Social Security funding, the difference would be made up by increasing the maximum wages subject to FICA. I suggest raising the maximum from the current $106,800 to $174,000 (the current salary of a member of Congress).

Richard Hill, Omaha

The problem of underpayment

William N. Wager stated (Jan. 2 Pulse) that he wanted the balance owed him in Social Security benefits paid in cash, so (in his words) the politicians don’t “steal it.”

Unfortunately, he, like so many others, doesn’t understand that if there is a settlement to be made, he will be the one writing the check. Statistics show that if a man earning an average income retires at age 65, he will have collected $417,000 in Social Security and Medicare benefits yet would have only paid in approximately $345,000 into those programs.

Since Mr. Wager retired at 62, not 65, and since, at 88 years of age, he has lived 12 years longer than a man’s average life expectancy in the United States, he had better have deep pockets, because under his plan, he would owe the rest of us a pile of cash.

When can I expect payment?

Don Eckles,
Louisville, Neb.

Thanks to all who helped

In November The World-Herald asked our community to help feed hungry neighbors. While acknowledging that we all have much to be grateful for, the editorial also noted the 200,000 people who are in danger of going hungry in our area and highlighted the lack of food available from Food Bank for the Heartland and our 325 pantry and meal-providing partners.

Our community responded with typical Nebraska grace and generosity. From having only nine items on our product list the middle of November, the Food Bank received and distributed more than 1.2 million pounds of food between Nov. 15 and Dec. 31. It was only possible because each of you cared enough to help someone you had never met.

Our deepest thanks and gratitude go to large supporters like Woodhouse Auto Family, the Peter Kiewit Foundation and ConAgra Foods. We are also thankful and grateful for Skylar, who contributed 36 cents to the BackPack program, and to Joseph, who collected cans from his apartment complex.

Big gifts or small, feeding the hungry is a true gift of Christmas, and we thank you and bless you for making this possible.

Susan E. Ogborn, Omaha

President and CEO

Food Bank for the Heartland

Anti-God stance haunting us

Anyone seeking answers to the Connecticut tragedy should study the past and realize that the words “Thou Shalt Not Kill” displayed in public places, such as schools, may have had a positive effect after all.

Thanks to a few atheists, the ACLU and some liberal judges, it’s unlawful to teach children such moral standards as there is seemingly much danger in doing so — and evidently a greater danger than facing a murderer in a classroom. Maybe those atheists, judges and the ACLU could enlighten the rest of us and explain.

Val Black, Shenandoah, Iowa

What ‘Right to Work’ is about

“Right to Work” is really a misnomer as nowhere is anyone’s right to work infringed upon, regardless of whether the state has this legislation or is an “Agency Shop” state.

“Closed Shop,” in which you had to belong to the union if the company was unionized, has been illegal since the late 1940s under the Taft-Hartley Act, passed over President Harry Truman’s veto.” “Agency Shop” means if a company is unionized, you either join the union or pay an “agency fee” for the services the union provides, which is more than just better pay and benefits.

Many in Nebraska don’t seem to understand that here, if you have no labor contract, you can be fired anytime and the employer doesn’t even have to give you a reason. With a labor contract, you have a grievance procedure to deal fairly with any disciplinary action, including termination.

Suppose Nebraska passed a law that said if you wanted any goods or services from a retailer or other business, you could have those goods or services for free, just because you didn’t want to pay for them. Business leaders would be outraged.

However, that is exactly what “Right to Work” does to unions. The unions must provide the benefits of the labor contract to all employees, whether members of the union or not, and cannot charge anything for it.

Unfortunately, there are many people in our society who are more than happy to take something for free and let others pay for it.

Tim Morrison, Omaha

President, Communications Workers of America Local 7290

Here’s my ode to Chambers

I had to chuckle to myself when I read the esteemed (cough, cough) Ernie Chambers’ Dec. 28 letter. He poked fun at the Husker football team and the Big Ten Conference.

Chambers’ generally lackluster performance and anemic record of energizing the economy of his district spawned the following observation:

Ernie is back as state senator,

And his wayward focus is again to-and-fro

Mr. Chambers insists on writing about the Huskers,

Not his failure to create jobs in north O

Corroboration of this unpleasant reality will be provided when the jobless rates are released for Chambers’ district during his tenure. But life, politics, the Huskers and Chambers’ misguided antics will proceed without interruption.

Brian L. Schulte, Omaha

Best wishes to Tom Osborne

As I looked at the picture of Tom Osborne in Tom Shatel’s Dec. 30 tribute column, I didn’t see images in my mind of the national championships (even though I enjoyed them thoroughly). I saw the face of a hardworking, honest and moral man.

I think most Nebraskans have been proud to have him as the face of our state and university programs. Dr. Tom is right; it is “the process” that’s important.

Rick Haney, Columbus, Neb.


One man died in a fire in an unoccupied Omaha building in 2012. The number of fire deaths in such properties was incorrect in an editorial Wednesday.

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