The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on May 8, 2005 · F3
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · F3

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Sunday, May 8, 2005
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Filename: F3-BUSINESS-AJCD0508-3Star Date/Time created: May 7 2005 5:14:31:970PM Username: SPEED2 AJCD0508-3STR Sunday, May 08, 2005 BUSINESS 3 F 3STR 3 F 3 F $EGL+*A3))*=4$ 3 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Sunday, May 8, 2005 F3 ¢ Cyan Magenta Yellow Black *SUZ21OA001KB* Cyan Magenta Yellow Black 3STR ¢ Filename: F3-BUSINESS-AJCD0508-3Star The´week´ahead Monday Economic reports: ➤ March wholesale trade, Commerce Department. Earnings expected: ➤ InterNAP Network Services Annual meetings: ➤ Rare Hospitality International Tuesday Earnings expected: ➤ Gold Kist Annual meetings: ➤ Appalachian Bancshares ➤ Chestatee Bankshares ➤ Cousins Properties ➤ Theragenics Wednesday Economic reports: ➤ March trade balance, Commerce Department. Earnings expected: ➤ Carmike Cinemas ➤ John H. Harland Annual meetings: ➤ BlueLinx Holdings Thursday Economic reports: ➤ April retail sales, Commerce Department. Annual meetings: ➤ Carter’s Inc. ➤ Corautus Genetics ➤ S1 Corp. Quote FORMER GOVERNOR AND U.S. SENATOR ZELL MILLER, TO THE ATLANTA ROTARY CLUB: “I´doubt´anyone´would´claim´ our´tax´code´is´fair´or´just.´If´it’s´ not´from´hell,´it’s´from´Comedy´ Central.´It´comes´from´D.C.,´ which´stands´for´Doesn’t´Care.” Friday Economic reports: ➤ March business inventories, Commerce Department. ➤ April import and export prices, Labor Department. ➤ May preliminary consumer sentiment index, University of Michigan. Xki_d[ii6Yecc[djWho Democrats´need´own´Social´Security´plan When I wrote last week’s column about Social Security, President Bush had not yet made his Saturday radio address. In that address, Bush outlined a program that would substantially reduce the imbalance between promises and funding in the Social Security system. That program, which reduces about 70 percent of the funding imbalance in the next 75 years, is called “progressive indexation.” Today, the benefits a retiree will receive are adjusted upward each year by the growth of wages (at least until the wage earnings cap is reached). After one retires, the benefits are adjusted each year for the prevailing rate of inflation. Normally, wages grow faster than inflation (last year was an exception caused by surging oil prices). Thus, the level of initial benefits grows much faster than the annual inflation adjustment for retirees. Bush proposed that those with low qualifying wages will continue to have their initial benefits grow with the rise in wages. Thus, almost 50 percent of wages earned while working will be paid to the low-wage recipient in retirement. However, as wages rise, a blended index based partially on wage growth and partially on inflation could be used to determine initial benefits. By the time a worker reaches the wage cap of $90,000, only inflation would determine the growth in initial benefits. As a result of this change, wage recipients who earn at least the wage cap would receive only about 18 percent of their wages in Social Security benefits. (Those high-wage earners already receive less in retirement than the low-wage recipient in comparison to their contributions. However, this change would dramatically lower the value of Social Security to the higher wage earners.) Democrats already have criticized this plan for taking away promised benefits from the middle class. They maintain that Social Security was not intended to be only a program to keep retirees out of poverty. But whatever Social Security was intended to achieve cannot be accomplished with the current funding. If the middle class must have its government-promised benefits preserved, then new funding must be found. Criticizing the administration proposals without providing their own ideas merely shoves the leadership issue from Bush to the Democrats. Certainly, supporting a program that prevents workers from falling into poverty after retirement has social merit. Arguing about preserving benefits for the middle class is more difficult to defend, especially when current funding simply cannot preserve those benefits over time. I should point out that 50 percent of wages as benefits is not sufficient to maintain a lifestyle in retirement. Most financial planners would argue for something closer to 85 percent to accomplish that. Thus, Social Security never should have been considered the only source of retirement income, even for low-wage recipients. That is why tax-deferred plans, such as individual retirement accounts, 401(k)s and other programs have been expanded in recent years. I wrote a column that outlined a proposal that would eliminate virtually the entire gap between promises and funding without raising the 6.2 percent tax rate paid by employer and employee. Remove the wage cap (but still have a benefits cap that would grow with wages). Then allow individuals to create individual retirement accounts that can be inherited with their 6.2 percent contribution if they so desired. The employer still would pay its portion even if the individual left the system. The additional employer payments on high-wage recipients and the reduced benefit burdens as those with alternatives opt out of the government program would remove the funding discrepancy. Of course, there would be economic consequences from increasing the tax liability of employers with high-wage recipients. This would add to the competitive burdens that American companies face against international competition. We could solve that burden and a great deal of capital distortion by eliminating the corporate income tax. Yes, this would shift the problem of un - derfunding from future retirees to current taxpayers. But some of that would be ameliorated by greater economic growth. Anyway, no one cheered my proposals. But at least I had some. And now the president does, too. If the Democrats don’t like these, they need to come up with some of their own. If the problem is small, as some Democrats claim, then the pain of plugging the holes should not be large. Plug away. — Donald Ratajczak is a regents professor emeritus at Georgia State University. co6ef_d_ed drdonecon @aol.com ZedWbZ6 hWjW`YpWa South´Georgia´company´proud´of´its´crop-dusting´planes ASSOCIATED PRESS Albany — Patricia Pearson looks forward to watching the departures of the crop-dusters she helps build. Each plane will most likely fight crop pests, put out forest fires or kill plants used to make illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. “I enjoy knowing that I have a part in building an aircraft that may save lives,” said Pearson, a mechanic with Thrush Aircraft Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of crop-dusters. “I enjoy seeing them fly off, knowing we had a part in building them.” Thrush may not be as well known as Boeing, Airbus and other aviation giants because airplanes built by the small, South Georgia company often fly in virtual obscurity, spraying pesticides on farm fields or herbicides in remote jungles around the world. After a brief slump in the past decade, agricultural aviation companies expect stronger sales in the future, thanks to an improved farm economy in the United States and expansion abroad. Thrush’s planes resemble the sleek, single-engine fight - ers of World War II, but instead of machine guns and cannons, they are armed with chemical tanks and nozzles for spraying pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. The pilots who fly them are known officially as aerial applicators, but they’re commonly referred to as crop-dusters — although they haven’t used dust in years. “An agricultural airplane takes a lot of abuse,” said Ed Anthony, owner of Leesburg Spraying Service in Leesburg, who owns two Thrushes. “It does a lot of landings and takeoffs at maximum capacity.” These flying farm implements, often equipped with global-positioning navigation systems and powerful turbine engines, cost from $750,000 to $1.4 million each. The Thrush plant’s 150 employees produce three planes a month, and President Larry Bays plans to hire 30 additional workers to increase production. “They protect us from bugs TODD STONE / Associated Press A test pilot for Thrush Aircraft Inc. of Albany makes a low pass across a field. Each plane must pass extensive tests before being certified for delivery for the customer. and drugs and put out fires,” said Bays, who added that Thrushes are being flown in 80 countries. “As long as they keep selling John Deeres, we’ll keep selling the Thrush.” Crop-dusters are also used to fight crop-damaging locusts in North Africa, kill disease- carrying mosquitos in Central America and fight fires in the West. The U.S. State Department uses armored versions to eradicate plants that produce cocaine and heroin. One of the Thrush drug planes, recently in the shop for maintenance, has patches over 100 bullet holes — hits it took while flying over coca fields in Colombia, Bays said. “It’s pretty effective when they hit that coca with Roundup,” he said, referring to the popular herbicide. “That’s when the farmers get mad and start shooting.” The drug planes also may be sent to Afghanistan soon to spray poppy fields, a major source of opium, Bays said. Thrush and its main com - petitor, Air Tractor of Olney, Texas, are the leading U.S. manufacturers of crop-dusting planes. “It’s like Chevys and Fords,” said Kelly Wingate, owner of Wingate’s Flying Service Inc. in Camilla. Thrush and Air Tractor have a common heritage — aircraft designer Leland Snow, who turns 75 this month. In the 1950s, Snow designed the Thrush for Rockwell-Stan - dard. When production was moved to Georgia in 1969, he stayed in Texas and formed Air Tractor, said his daughter, Kristin Edwards, the company’s vice president of sales. Albany businessman Fred Ayres bought Rockwell’s agricultural plane business in the late 1970s but ran into financial trouble in the late 1990s. Bays and a partner purchased Ayres Corp. in 2003, formed Thrush Aircraft Inc. and resumed production. Air Tractor’s sales also began slumping in the late 1990s. The company sold 50 planes in 2002-2003, 75 last year and expects to sell 80 in 2005, Edwards said. The agricultural aviation industry is heavily dependent on the health of the farm economy, said Andrew Moore, executive director of the Wash - ington-based National Agricultural Aviation Association. And with record crops and strong commodity prices last year, the farm equipment industry had a solid year, said Bob Schnell, executive vice president of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association in St. Louis. “Farmers were making money,” he said. “They were having record crops, and they had money to spend. A lot of the equipment was fairly old and they had to replace it.” Schnell said he expects the trend to continue at least through next year. Demand for planes is also expected to grow in countries like Brazil and Argentina. “The farm economy is a cycle of growth spurts and slowdowns,” Edwards said. “It seems that we’re coming into one of the growth periods.” Thrush´Aircraft projects´upturn in´U.S.,´abroad +!Boovbm!Qfsdfoubhf!Zjfme!!Sbuf!xjmm!cf!/61&!pg!Xbmm!Tusffu!Qsjnf!Sbuf/!!Jg!cbmbodf!espqt!cfmpx!%36-111/111!ebjmz!cbmbodf!joufsftu!sbuf!xjmm! dpowfsu!up!uif!Qfstpobm!Tbwjoht!Bddpvou!xjui!bo!BQZ!pg!/86&!boe!b!%6/11!nbjoufobodf!gff!xjmm!cf!bttfttfe/!Gfft!dpvme!sfevdf!fbsojoh/!! Sbuf!nbz!dibohf!bgufs!bddpvou!pqfot/!!Sbuf!fggfdujwf!5036016/ Tired of Locking Your Money Up in Long Term Certificate of Deposits to Get a Great Rate? introduces the SAVINGS ACCOUNT 2.29%* Minimum Banance to Open $25,000.00 Qsftujhf We get results even in the most difficult cases! GUARANTEED SERVICES • Release of Levies • Release of Tax Liens •Non-filed returns • Back Taxes Settled • Self employment 940 •Withholding 941 & Sales Tax Mills, Robinson, Thomas & Associates “Where reliable, ethical tax representation is standard.” Call our Atlanta office today and schedule a free confidential consultation. 770-690-4219 WWJD TOLL FREE 1-888-864-1870 JST!!USPVCMFT@!!!TUBUF!UBY!JTTVFT@ OUTCLASS THE COMPETITION SEMINARS BASIC DINING SKILLS, BUSINESS ETIQUETTE & DINE LIKE A DIPLOMAT SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2005 ATLANTA AIRPORT RENAISSANCE CONCOURSE HOTEL Don’t let a faux pas ruin your next business deal! 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