The guest column of W. Eugene Johnston III (Second Opinion, Nov. 11), concerning the economic status of the elderly, contained some outright distortions and had some glaring omissions.

The Reagan boom did not benefit everyone. On the contrary, it enriched primarily Wall Street, some ``high fliers' in the S&L industry, and some unscrupulous cronies who profited from the lax mismanagement of the huge Pentagon and HUD slush funds. Poverty increased in the 1980s not only for our children, but for individuals of all ages, including some of the elderly.The massive indebtedness our grandchildren will face is the result in large part, not of increased benefits to the elderly, but of excessive and wasteful military spending. Imperial overstretch is very expensive and very wasteful.

It is correct to note that currently there is considerably more poverty among children than among the elderly. It is incorrect, however, to conclude that there is no poverty or ``near poverty' among the elderly and that the typical old person resides in comfort ``in delightful Southwest and Florida communities.'

Of course there are some wealthy people among the elderly, and some elderly groups (with affluent members) apply undue pressure to increase their benefits from the government. Special interest groups which are greedy should be rebuffed. This is quite a different matter, however, from arguing that there has been a massive intergenerational transfer of income from the young to the elderly.

I am pleased that my votes helped to retire Johnston from the United States Congress. If his bias were to prevail, our grandchildren would indeed be mired in deep distress. Thomas J. Leary Greensboro

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