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AMERICAN MOSAIC - January 24, 2003: New Music from Sheryl Crow / Question About How Americans Prepare for Retirement / Wireless Phones Rule! - 2003-01-23



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our program today,

We play some music from Sheryl Crow ...

Answer a question about preparing for retirement ...

And tell about the popularity of cell phones.

Cell Phones


Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in eighteen-seventy-six. He might recognize the telephone we use today. But he might not like what we do with it. In most industrial countries, it seems as if almost everyone carries a small device they call a mobile, cellular or cell phone.


Uh, just a moment, that is my cell phone. Hello? No, not now, I am doing American Mosaic. Could you call me later? Just a minute. Uh, Mary Tillitson tells us more about this most modern telephone.

No, I will call back later. It will have to wait. Not now. Please call later!


Doug Johnson was only playing a joke just now. He did not really get a telephone call. But cell phone calls have become an increasing problem these days because so many people now own these phones.

Communication industry experts say about forty-six-million Americans used cell phones five years ago. That number now is closer to one-hundred-twenty-million. Today it is even possible to use a cell phone linked to a satellite from anywhere on Earth. So you can pay money to use a cell phone in foreign countries while traveling.

In most industrial countries, you can see hundreds of people each day walking on the street talking on their cell phones. You see them in eating places. You hear their cell phones ring in theaters, at business meetings and even at weddings.

People use them while driving in automobiles. Experts say many accidents are caused by people who do not pay full attention to their driving. They are too busy talking on their cell phones. In the United States, forty-one state governments are debating legislation to make it illegal to drive a vehicle and talk on a cell phone at the same time.

Almost everyone agrees that people should be more thoughtful when they use a cell phone in public. They should not talk too loudly. And they should turn off their cell phone when it might cause problems for others.


Er, excuse me, I have a cell phone call. Uh, that is all the cell phone information I had now anyway.

Hello? Hello? Yes. This is really a bad time, call again later …



Our VOA listener question this week comes from China. Liang Qinyu asks about pension plans in America.

A pension is the money a worker or his or her family receives when the worker retires, is unable to work, or dies. The money comes from personal savings, the government’s Social Security program, and private pension plans offered through a place of employment.

Federal law requires businesses to give pension rights to all people who have worked for the company for a set number of years. The United States Department of Labor has an office called the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration. Its job is to supervise pension plans in the United States.

The federal government’s Social Security program is the largest retirement program in the United States. It was established in nineteen-thirty-five. Under the plan, workers pay a little more than six percent of their wages each month into Social Security. Their employers do the same. Most self-employed workers also pay a percent of their wages into Social Security. People will receive payments after they retire for as long as they live.

The Social Security program is popular in America. But it was never meant to fully support someone in retirement. Especially today, money received through Social Security is not enough to provide for most people’s needs. This is why many Americans also have personal savings or a pension or both.

Most government pensions are paid with money from workers and their agencies. Most company pension plans are paid the same way. Self-employed workers can establish an independent pension plan through a bank or insurance company. People who work for companies that do not offer pensions can do the same.

Workers pay a percent of money every month to the plan. They receive payments after they retire. People usually retire at about the age of sixty-five. However, some Americans find that they do not enjoy retirement. Or they do not have enough money to retire. So they continue working until they are older.

Cheryl Crow


American singer and songwriter Sheryl Crow has already won many music industry awards. Last week, she won an American Music Award as favorite female pop or rock and roll artist. Three songs on her latest album have been nominated for Grammy Awards. Shep O’Neal has more.


Sheryl Crow’s latest album is called “C’mon, C’mon”. She helped write many of its songs. She wrote this one with her sister and recorded it with country rock singer Don Henley. “It’s So Easy” is nominated for a Grammy Award as best pop collaboration with vocals.


Sheryl Crow says the album is her attempt to produce songs similar to those from the nineteen-seventies and eighties. The song “Steve McQueen” honors a movie actor who represented rebellion. It is nominated for a Grammy award as best female rock vocal performance.


Still another song by Sheryl Crow is nominated for a Grammy for best female pop vocal performance. She says this song is a social comment about how time passes and cannot be made to return. We leave you now with Sheryl Crow singing her third Grammy-nominated song this year, “Soak Up the Sun.”



This is Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today. And I hope you will join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC -- VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

This AMERICAN MOSAIC program was written by Jill Moss, Nancy Steinbach and Paul Thompson. Our studio engineer was Glen Mattlock. And our producer was Paul Thompson.