Crowdsourcing Social Problems

William Eggers' praise for Luis von Ahn's reCAPTCHA idea overlooks one vexing problem ("Crowdsourcing Social Problems," January). A number of the displayed words are from ancient texts and contain the long s (?), as in unju?tly or Per?ephone, widely used in English printing until about 1800. The original printing in 1789 of the proposed Bill of Rights to our Constitution, for example, refers to "due proce?s of law" and was proposed by the "Congre?s OF THE United States." reCAPTCHA insists you type these images using the modern letter "f." Eventually, the Internet is going to end up with digital editions of things like Paradife Loft and The Pilgrim's Progrefs, not to mention due procefs of law.

Ted Stroll

San Jose, CA

Slouching Toward Bankruptcy

In "Slouching Toward Bankruptcy" (January), Veronique de Rugy claims that in 2010 Social Security began to draw from the reserves in its trust fund to cover the shortfall in revenues. This is not true. There are no reserves to draw from. The "trust fund" is and always has been nothing more than a book-entry ledger of the government debt obligation to the program, now about $2.7 trillion. By law, the Social Security Administration can claim this as an asset. At the same time, it is carried as a $2.7 trillion debt in the federal budget.

Charles Blahous, senior Social Security trustee, has tried to set the record straight. "This gap," he wrote in a letter to The Washington Post, "is filled entirely by revenue the federal government borrows."

Some claim that none of this really matters, that the fund obligation carries the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Well, so does the other roughly $60-70 trillion in unfunded liabilities. In what fantasy world is this reassuring?

Roy Crocker

Sierra Vista, AZ

Letters are welcome and should be addressed to

reason 1747 Connecticut Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20009 fax: 202-315-3623 letters@reason.com

"I'm still unclear why any crime, other than the most miniscule of misdemeanors, would require any sort of hearing by the college. Why isn't a rape accusation being handled by the local police force and prosecutor?"

-reason.com commenter "Agammamon" in response to "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" (January)

"It's in the public's interest to know who is giving the money to Candidate X; the millionaire should not be able to stay anonymous. If that millionaire is afraid of blowback, well, freedom does have consequences. And Candidate X will have to live with being known as the politician in the millionaire's back pocket. The system we have now is the worst of all worlds. Politicians rely upon (and work for) 'bundlers' who accumulate massive amounts of capped donations but who only show up as donating the small max on the campaign disclosure filings while we allow unlimited sums of money to be funneled into 'educational non-profits' that are clearly fronts for partisan organizations completely anonymously."

-reason.com commenter "bassjoe" in response to "Let Money Talk" (January)