The method in the opinion-page article "Cuomo's Strength - An Illusion," Nov. 1, uses to weigh New York Gov. Mario Cuomo's potential as a Democratic candidate for president is based primarily upon Mr. Cuomo's previous political encounters plus a few recent polls. But polls can be inaccurate, as the election of Harry Truman in 1948 proved.A few days after reading the article, I listened to Cuomo brilliantly field the toughest questions his constituents could assemble. There is no doubt Cuomo is quite politically savvy and able to think decisively on major issues. He answered questions in a way that gave confidence to the listeners and was balanced with the utmost fairness and patience toward the questioners. Polls have no way of measuring this natural political talent. Charles T. Allison, Hershey, Pa.
On cutting the capital-gains tax The editorial "Tax-Cut Politics" Oct. 29, is halfway on target. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen's proposed tax cut plan does indeed smell like a political ploy. A cynic would argue that it is designed to buy enough middle-class votes to elect a Democratic president in 1992 - one who would then promptly raise taxes. The proposal to cut the capital-gains tax, however, cannot be dismissed in a similar fashion. Any truly equitable tax system taxes capital gains at a lower effective rate than wage and salary income (as in other major industrial countries). There are two reasons for this. Unlike wage and salary income, capital-gains income includes an inflationary component. Also, an investor who earns capital gains faces a prospect of a loss on his investment. Taxing capital gains at a lower rate offsets the effects of inflation and risk on capital-gains income and is a necessary part of an equitable tax system. Therefore, regardless of what the short-term gains would be, we should cut the tax rate on capital gains. Mark Wylie, Los Angeles
Women's options in a men's world The opinion-page piece, "Options in the Face of Abuse," Oct. 21, expresses an attitude of moral cynicism. The options, according to the author, include turning the abuse "to our advantage in a conspiratorial closeness with a powerful man." She laments the fact that this option cannot be pursued simultaneously with all the others. She finds it sad that women cannot "get the goodies and hope to get justice as well." Apparently this means colluding with sexual harassment in order to further one's career, and then turning on the harasser when one has finished using him. The author's world would be offensive to anyone who values justice. Women will get nowhere if they feel being a victim absolves them from the responsibility to be honest and fair. Jennifer Quinn, Riverdale, N.Y.
Jewish-Americans and loan guarantees In response to President Bush's call for Congress to postpone Israel's request for $10 billion in US loan guarantees, pro-Israel groups have launched a major campaign for unconditional and immediate US aid. Often such groups have spoken in the name of Americans of the Jewish faith and in the name of the Jewish faith itself. The fact is, however, that the question of loan guarantees for Israel, or any other foreign state, is a political and not a religious question. By confusing religion and politics, some within the Jewish community have done a disservice to the mandate they have received from their members. That mandate, of course, is to pursue religious and not political ends. American Jews differ on the question of loan guarantees to Israel. Some American Jews, and many Israelis as well, have argued that unlimited US aid "with no strings attached" has encouraged Israeli intransigence with regard to the peace process and the settlements question. In addition they feel this aid has postponed the need for dramatic economic reform. Others disagree. They argue that humanitarian aid for Russian immigrants should not be confused with the Middle East peace process and the question of settlements. We at The American Council for Judaism have maintained that it is God, not the State of Israel, which is central to Judaism, and that all too often Middle East politics have been permitted to corrupt the Jewish religious tradition. Unlike those who claim to speak for all Jews, however, we speak only for our own members - though we suspect many American Jews share our views. Alan V. Stone, Alexandria, Va., President, The American Council for Judaism