$1.4 trillion dollars.

            This amount of money has now been saved in the Social Security Trust Fund to pay benefits to future retirees. More money is paid into the Trust Fund every year, and it is growing. The money is held in the form of government bonds which pay interest at an average rate of 6 percent per year.

            At some future date, the amount of money that the Social Security Administration pays out in benefits may exceed the amount that it collects from the Social Security tax on employees and employers. At that point, the money in the Trust Fund will be used to make up the difference.

            According to one well-publicized estimate made by the trustees of the Social Security Trust Fund, Social Security will be able to continue paying full benefits for the next 37 years before the fund is exhausted. After that, the trustees project, the Social Security tax will continue to be collected and benefits will continue to be paid, but at an estimated rate of 73 percent of full benefits.

            These basic facts disprove the theory promoted by President Bush that the Social Security System is in a financial crisis that demands immediate attention.

            The trustees' forecast is based on assumptions regarding the changes in a host of variables over the next 37 years. An increase in life expectancy causes Social Security to pay out more in benefits. An increase in wages enables the Fund to collect more money. An increase in the rate of inflation increases the payout. Can the forecasters predict with certainty the changes in these variables (and many others) over the next 37 years? Neither the trustees nor President Bush has a crystal ball.

            In fact, according to an unpublicized estimate made by the trustees, the Fund will never run out of money and the crisis will never happen at all if the increase in life expectancy is a little less, if the rate of inflation is a little less, and if the increase in wages is a little greater, over the next 37 years.

            The Social Security system is not in crisis now, and it may never be. There is no emergency that must be dealt with immediately. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

            Paul Van Ness, Rochester


In the article "Growing, Growing... Gone?" (on Pittsford's rural character, February 16), developer Chuck Ryan states: "People always use the term, 'Well, we're going to change the character of the neighborhood.' That's true. We are. We're going to change it for the better."

            How is raping the land, irrevocably destroying wildland that is already in short supply to further expand an already glutted market (in spite of widespread protest from local citizens) in order to see your business profit, a change for the better?

            If Ryan's intent were to truly change a neighborhood for the better, he could set his sights on abandoned, crumbling, and uglified urban and suburban areas, instead of seeking to destroy unspoiled lands abutting one of our most lovely natural spaces.

            Cindy Gilchrist, Springwater


In reading Ron Netsky's "Jazz Italian Style" (February 9), I felt compelled to set the record straight about an event that two contributors to the article mistakenly identified. Both Chris Melito and Gap Mangione referred to going to an establishment on State Street across from Kodak in 1956 to listen to Clifford Brown's Quintet including Sonny Rollins and Max Roach.

            The accurate name of the establishment was the Band Box, and it was owned and operated by my father, Lou Noce. My father was a theatrical agent before he opened the Band Box in 1955, and in addition to Clifford Brown performing there just months before Brown was tragically killed in a car accident, my father booked Erroll Gardner, Teddy Wilson, Hampton Hawes, Mel Torme, and scores of contemporary jazz performers.

            I have memories of being at the Band Box as a young boy on Sunday afternoons listening to jam sessions, and remember the sign above the door which read "The Band Box, Where Great Jazz Is a Tradition."

            Thanks, Ron, for a trip down memory lane.

            Charles T. Noce, Pittsford


Thank you and Ron Netsky for the wonderful article calling attention to the Italian-American Jazz tradition in Rochester ("Jazz Italian Style," February 9).

            I have been involved with Italian-American cultural activities for over a dozen years. As a third-generation Italian American, I've always been perplexed by the Italian-American willingness to celebrate the Italian cultural roots of DaVinci, Machiavelli, and Puccini while ignoring the historic contributions of Italian-American icons such as filmmaker Frank Capra, statesman Vito Marcantonio, and composer Harry Warren (born Salvatore Guaragna).

            Five years ago, I created a radio program at Jazz 90.1 titled "The Sunday Music Festa" to celebrate the Italian-American legacy in song. I wanted the program to focus not on Italian folk songs or operatic classics like "O Sole Mio" or "Non Ti ScordardiMe" but on the Italian-American contributions to popular music and jazz. I knew of the vast contributions made to American popular song by Italian-American musicians and was anxious to shine a spotlight on these talented artists. Rochester has had a great tradition of Italian radio programs since the 1930s but none covered the Italian-American contributions to America's music.

            In addition to local and regional artists like Gap and Chuck Mangione, the Vitale Brothers, Mike Melito, Dino Losito and Gus Mancuso, the Festa features music by jazz legends like Joe Venuti, Buddy DeFranco, Vince Guaraldi, and Flip Phillips (Joseph Filipelli). We celebrate pop legends like Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, and Connie Francis as well. Listeners call in every week to tell me how much they enjoy the music and, of course, many of them are not Italian American.

            While there were indeed cultural factors that contributed to the heavy participation of groups such as African Americans, Italian Americans, and Jewish Americans to the popular music of our country, in the end the beauty of music is that it thrives without racial, ethnic, or religious prejudice. Music is indeed the unifying language of humanity.

            Otto W. Bruno Jr., Irondequoit (Bruno hosts "The Sunday Music Festa" on WGMC radio, noon to 3 p.m. Sundays.)


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