Dear Paul (Kiel),
Enjoyed your piece on the Pan Am Building. (Vol. III, number 3, Feb. 16) Reluctant as I am to allow anything remotely good to its design or siting, there is one up-side — scarcely worth a mention in public, but still here it is: there are moments on Park Ave, at dusk, when the modest charms of the Helmsley are thrown into flattering relief by the monstrosity behind it. At such moments the Pan Am resembles a grizzly bear creeping up on a deer. One of those visual fables of New York. The Helmsley becomes pure nostalgia, and more endearing than it really deserves.
Regards, C.H., via email
To the Editors,
What is it with you guys? Didn’t anyone take an economics course or actually spend a few minutes reviewing the facts and history of the Social Security program? You can be certain no one will mistake your sarcasm and watery irony for the work of a contemporary Jonathan Swift satirizing a significant social and political issue (The Passion of the Bush, by Amir Modirzadeh, Vol III, number 4).
The population today is nearing 300 million, 2.3 times or about 130 percent larger than it was in 1936, when the program started. But wage-earners now kick in about 8 percent of their incomes up to $90,000. The new rate 700 percent higher than the initial rate. Do you get the picture? The pool of recipients — and their cash entitlement — is soaring while the population of contributors is growing at a crawl. The supporters of the Social Security Status Quo seem to willingly ignore the runaway cash demands of the senior-citizen contingent. Everything is fine, they say. But this Panglossian claim is stated without looking at the continuous increase in the tax rate on revenue theoretically earmarked for payment to geezers. How much higher would you like to see the Social Security tax rate climb before you reach your personal pain threshhold? In percentage terms, the geriatric segment of our population is growing faster than any other cohort. Good medicine will accelerate the growth — adding to Medicare costs in ways that are possibly bankrupting for the nation. Thus, you can be sure the Social Security tax rate will tick up at a faster rate in the future if sensible changes are not made.
Chris, via email
(To read Mr. Modirzadeh’s full response, and the unexpurgated letter to the editor, please visit www.theLmagazine.com)
Dear Adrian (MacDonald),
I just read your Taxicab Confessions piece (Vol. 3, number 3, Feb. 16) and I was thoroughly impressed. You managed to capture the romanticism of the city without writing a complete blowjob about it. That’s not easy to do. I guess a place like New York can be an inspiration, especially if you stand at a cultural crossroads, which I imagine most cabbies do. I’ve considered moving there myself, just for a while. Partially out of a need to experience something that moves faster than my native Tennessee. I’m probably crazy, but I find some comfort in that thought. I digress. Thank you for sharing the piece. It is very well written.
Brett Williams (Tennessee)