Why must our nest eggs be the first to crack?

May 8, 2010

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RE “BY postponing hard choices, Beacon Hill risks greater pain" (Editorial, May 2): Your editorial on the state’s fiscal problems scapegoats state workers’ pensions and even questions the sanctity of private sector pensions. Any honest evaluation of the pension system shows that it is far from generous. State workers pay for most of their pensions. The state’s contribution is far less than the 6.2 percent private sector employers pay for their employees’ Social Security. State workers don’t receive Social Security. Only the first $12,000 of a state worker’s pension is eligible for a cost of living adjustment. That means that as the years go by, inflation eats up the value of their pensions, and many retired state workers are forced into poverty.

We are one of the richest countries in the world. We can afford to ensure that all retired Americans, in both the private and public sectors, have a decent retirement. It’s a question of priorities.

We can either waste trillions of dollars on wars around the world and on bailouts and tax breaks for the banks and the huge corporations, or we can provide every American with quality healthcare, decent pensions, and a living wage.

Sal Insogna,

Where bullying begins

IN THE article “Grieving family by his side, governor signs legislation" (Page A9, May 4), Governor Patrick states, “Bullying is not a normal piece of childhood. Emotional and physical abuse is more than, as they say, kids being kids.’’ The governor is not the only person in Massachusetts who is either unwilling or unable to connect the dots concerning bullying and family violence.

Bullying behavior is the use of physical aggression (direct aggression) and verbal or cyber intimidation (indirect aggression) that are intended to change or alter the behavior of a peer. The use of direct or indirect aggression does not appear the day children begin school. Dating violence does not spontaneously arrive when young adults begin to date. Intimate partner violence does not occur when dating couples reach adulthood. Elder abuse does not suddenly or mysteriously emerge when adults become elders. Parents use, and society condones, direct aggression (in the form of physical assaults) and indirect aggression (intimidation and threats) while parenting. Why do societies in general and parents in particular seem surprised when children, adolescents, teens, young adults, and adults continue this behavior?

Until we begin at the beginning, there is no end in sight.

Richard L. Davis,
The writer is president of Family Nonviolence Inc.

Fried clams — a history

I GREATLY enjoyed your quiz on the New England states (“The state of things," Travel, May 2), and hope that this will continue as a regular feature. However, I would like to lay to rest, once and for all, the myth that fried clams were “invented’’ in Essex in 1916.

As proof of my contention, I offer the following from the “Itinerarium of Dr. Alexander Hamilton,’’ an account of a journey through the northern colonies in 1744 by a physician from Annapolis, Md., and published as “Gentleman’s Progress’’ by the University of North Carolina Press. From the entry for June 15, 1744, at the Narrows Ferry on Staten Island, N.Y.: “I dined att one Corson’s that keeps the ferry . . . upon what I never have eat in my life before — a dish of fryed clams, of which shellfish there is in abundance in these parts.’’

Hamilton adds that the diners stuffed them down with rye bread and butter, and that they “took such a deal of chawing that we were long att dinner, and the dish began to cool before we had eat enough.’’

Sorry, but fried clams were not invented in Essex in 1916. Nor, apparently, was the establishment that claims that distinction the first public dining place to serve them, though I must say that the clams I have eaten there never required any excessive “chawing.’’

William Pavlovsky,

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