Regarding the recent letter of John Sanders, “Raising age for benefits hurts elderly”:

Pastor Sanders implies that proposals to change Social Security reflect an attitude of ruthless rich people wanting to “cut ’em off by the knees.” I have great respect for those in society, like the pastors and clerics represented by Sanders, who are on the front lines of serving and assisting those among us who are most in need. And, from past experience, I know that the realities of available funds affect the way in which these pastors, churches and charities have to balance their desire to do more for their flocks with the necessity of managing the dollars available so the programs can continue into the future.

So, too, with the ballooning programs such as Social Security. Unless we recognize and address the facts of people living far longer and, thus, receiving payments far longer than was the case when Social Security was initiated, the growing number of retirees drawing from the fund and the shrinking workforce replenishing the fund, as we are told by various studies, means Social Security will run out of money and become bankrupt.

Is a reform like moving the eligibility age to 70 years old the right or only course? Maybe, maybe not. (By the way, the proposals for raising the eligibility age requirement typically are phased in over a decade or more and would not affect current retirees or those near to retirement). But a discussion of how to save these programs must be part of the agenda for our societal leaders and politicians if we are to preserve these programs for the coming generations. Thoughtful people who recognize the coming crisis in these programs are seeking ways to preserve them and are not motivated to cut off the neediest at their knees. The cynical, demagogic response of too many politicians is to attack any proposal for saving these programs in a partisan manner that seeks to shut off the search for the appropriate compromise that we must find in order to save these programs for our grandchildren.

Michael Russell

retired manager

New Orleans