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Figures Distort Picture

June 16, 1985

I certainly agree with John Oliver Wilson that the federal deficit is attributable to the military buildup, the Reagan cuts in personal and business taxes, and the clear failure of the economy to grow fast enough to melt the deficit (the disaster of Reaganomics).

However, Wilson casts some blame on Social Security and Medicare since "programs transferring income to the retired population account for 33% of all federal expenditures."

Is it unfair to ask Wilson to acknowledge that the entire cost of Social Security is paid for by a payroll tax and that the aged have not caused and are not now responsible for a penny of deficit?

Why then is Social Security brought up again and again whenever the deficit is discussed? The elderly, says Wilson, must "share the pain."

Can Wilson mean anything else but that Social Security revenues must be diverted to pay for whatever the Administration chooses to spend money on? The "Star Wars" defense system, for example. Is any other interpretation of "sharing pain" possible?

I believe that we are being systematically bamboozled into the absurd belief that our retired population is affluent. The propaganda charge seems to be led by gentlemanly economists such as Wilson and Martin Feldstein. The latter also asks retired Americans to yield up their 'unjust share' of the nation's wealth, although how the aged were enriched merely by having their tiny pensions indexed is an unexplained mystery. Meanwhile, these gentlemen do not mention that 40% of U.S. wealth is held by less than 1% of the population. Share the pain, indeed!

RAYMOND WEIL

Manhattan Beach

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