Letters for February 18, 2016

Heads up

In 2015 the Nevada Legislature thankfully made some changes to the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS). Unfortunately, other storm clouds are on the horizon for current pensions of retired Nevada employees. Cases in point:

1.) The funding ratio of PERS in year 2000 was over 84 percent. Currently, it is under 72 percent. That means if all the systems benefits came due today, PERS would only be able to pay 72 cents on the dollar! 2.) In the 1990s it took around 19.5 percent of one’s salary to keep PERS solvent. Each employer and employee now contributes 28 percent of the employee’s salary to the fund each year. 3.) The Wall Street Journal on Sept. 5, 2015 had an article on why several states had come to a logical conclusion—that to project eight percent return or more on the pensioners’ money is not realistic.

Unfortunately Nevada did not heed this advice and still claims it can earn 8 percent a year. From Jan. 1, 2006 to Feb. 1, 2016 (over 10 years) PERS has had a rate of return of only about 6 percent for its pensioners!

Timothy Bauer


Project this

Re “Money talkers” (Let freedom ring, Jan.28):

Brendan Trainor’s Jan. 28 column contains a major mistake regarding population projections. Trainor states that “Asian-Americans will supplant Latinos and African-Americans as the largest minority in the U.S. by 2050.” According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2050, the U.S. will be composed of the following: White (non-Hispanic) 46.3 percent, Hispanic 30.2 percent, Black 13 percent, Asian 7.8 percent, American Indian and Alaska Native 1.2percent, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0.3 percent.

Any projections 34 years into the future may be incorrect based on changes in immigration laws, or events such as wars that drive residents to leave a country, etc. But it seems highly unlikely that Asians will surge past blacks or Hispanics in the next few decades.

Phillip Kaiser


New math

Re “The Real You” (cover story, Feb. 4):

My mind was drawn to the highlighted box on page 15: “Finding out I am one-tenth Japanese…” is just not possible. Unless there is some form of human procreation that I am not aware of, one cannot be one-tenth in ancestry. Because of the pairing of human DNA, the denominator of the fraction must be a power of two: 2, 4, 8, 16, etc. The RN&R, usually good in editorial proofing, may be a victim of today’s widespread mathematical innumeracy.

David Von Seggern


Living in the past

Re “Rock’n Caucus” (cover story, Jan 28):

Kudos to Dennis Myers for this timely and wonderfully informative feature presentation that lucidly recounted and put into context not only Nevada’s history with its primaries and caucuses, but also that history in relation to those of the other states, in a way that I found truly remarkable. Myers brought the past into the present by thoughtfully highlighting the course of this development and pointing to the competing interests between (and within) the national political parties that drove the process.

As an inveterate newspaper-reader of over 60 years, I honestly don’t recall reading a more measured, well-developed, and readable newspaper account on any comparable topic. It seemed as if every time something seemingly confusing arose, Myers was beforehand with his readers, being very quick to dispel the mystery.

I would, however, be much less complimentary towards the proof-readers and editors who ran this story, listing the dates of the Democratic and Republican caucuses as Jan. 20 and Jan. 23 respectively, rather than the correct dates of Feb. 20 and Feb. 23.

Robert Palgon


Dennis Myers replies: The same person who was responsible for the good parts of the story was also responsible for the error. I made the mistake in writing and then I missed it in proof.

STAR wars

I am so tired of hearing what a “great legal mind” Antonin Scalia had. My brother has a “great legal mind.” In fact, he should have been a lawyer because he can rationalize and justify anything. Just the kind of person to have on your side if you want to go to war. More important to have is a great heart, which, by the way, my brother also has. Really glad to see Scalia go. He will be remembered for the legal maneuver that stopped the Florida recount and put his friends, George and Dick in the White House, a move that has cost us dearly and for which we are still paying.

And now the Senate Republicans want to wait a whole year to replace him? Does that show respect for the Constitution? Unbelievable. We need to kick these guys out come November.

Jon Obester



Re “Cut the county sales tax” (editorial, Feb. 11):

We reported that the Public Schools Overcrowding and Repair Needs Committee is a body of the Washoe County School District. It is not. The committee’s agendas are posted on the school district website because the district is required by statute to provide administrative support for it.