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Exponent Editorial June 12

Making marriage last a lifetime

We're all aware of the dismal statistics associated with marriages; most of them end in divorce. It's a problem that also seems to concern Florida lawmakers, and they're trying to do something about it.

Their recent action may not provide a panacea for divorce, but it sure won't hurt either.

Last week, the Florida legislature approved a four-hour course to help altar-bound couples learn better listening and talking skills, along with guidelines on how to fight more constructively. Lawmakers hope that couples -- through their participation -- can enjoy a commitment that lasts a lifetime.

You know, the way it's supposed to be?

The legislature realized that most couples, perhaps a little blinded by love, would fail to see the need for such course in their own relationships. So they provided an incentive: Take the course and get a nice discount on the price of your marriage license.

That's a pretty big deal in Florida. Getting hitched there requires a marriage license that will run you $88.50. Learn some helpful communication skills and you'll save $32.50. Not bad.

But wait, there's more. The measure also includes an increase in the court fees for divorce. The fee, which ranges between $118 to $220, has been raised by $32.50. And for those couples with minor children -- well, they'll be required to take a four-hour divorce education course.

Florida students will even be affected by this legislation. They'll be learning marriage and relationship skill-based education, which will now be required to be included in the "life management" class already taught in high schools.

A lot of us will be getting married this summer. For those of us who are, let's try to keep a novel thought in mind: Marriage is a vow to commit to one person for a lifetime. That's no small commitment, and it's one that would appear to be more easily accomplished through the learning of better communication skills).

And what soon-to-be married couple wouldn't benefit from saving a few extra dollars in the process?

-- Kevin S. Courtney


Telegram Editorials June 12

Tax cuts might help Americans save more

When President Clinton recently discussed the country's astoundingly small savings rate, perhaps he and other Democrats could help matters with a tax cut.

That's what we think, anyway.

New figures show Americans stashed away only 3.8 percent of their income, compared with Malaysia's savings rate of 19 percent.

The chief executive's concern arose during the National Summit on Retirement Savings. That's a get-together where bureaucrats revisit the story of "the grasshopper and the ants."

American citizens were being nagged at for not saving enough for their old age.

But the little guy can let these Washington "well-wishers" know that they are saving money for their retirement. It's called Social Security.

It's kind of like a payroll savings plan, except the money is held back by the government. The first eighth of the paycheck is withheld from every working American -- you know, many of whom live from paycheck to paycheck.

In this nation, those who earn a minimum wage may actually believe they're trying to save just as zealously as the 12 percent in Japan and 19 percent in Malaysia. But while many Americans expect to retire just on Social Security when they turn 65, they may be sorely disappointed. It just doesn't seem to hold a lot of promise for the baby-boomers and younger individuals.

If the president and other leading Democrats have any doubts they can deliver on the promise, our suggestion would be that he allow Americans to place their hard-earned dollars into retirement plans that would certainly have a better rate of return.

-- Robert F. Stealey