Letters

Debate over compensation for 9/11 victims

The following are my reflections related to the two commentaries regarding the Sept. 11 Victims' Compensation Fund, "Compensate all 9/11 families equally" and "Or should Uncle Sam be paying them at all?" (Jan. 4, Opinion): I share the displeasure of those who resent our government's decision to award on the premise that some victims were either already earning a bundle or seemingly poised for a grandiose financial future.

Might not some of those proven or promising entrepreneurs have been living so recklessly that theirs would likely have been an uncertain future? All the living victims, regardless of social status, deserve empathy, prayers, and equal portions of financial help from reputable charitable groups. Let those who had life insurance claim their benefits. Let those who had none request and receive additional, but limited, federal welfare commensurate with their real and immediate basic needs. The status or expected life income of the victims should not play a part in the allocation of monies. Such "math" in the "aftermath" is questionable at best.

Ben G. Philippon Wayne, N.J.

If an equal settlement, as is proposed in "Compensate all 9/11 families equally," is not considered, life insurance and other financial help (retirement, savings, etc.) should come into play to decide who is compensated what amount. I believe half the fund should be disbursed in equal parts and the remaining half disbursed based on needs, determined by an objective person or committee.

Douglas Gibbs St. Louis, Mo.

"Compensate all 9/11 families equally" on the inequalities of the Victims' Compensation Fund was right on target. Hopefully, if we have learned anything from the tragic events of last September, it is that a person's value to society can't be based on their salary.

Greg Rossel Troy, Maine

It's troubling to follow the argument in "Or should Uncle Sam be paying them at all?" - that the federal government shouldn't pay a penny to survivors of Sept. 11, but should leave all relief efforts to the whim of private charities. It seems patriotically fixated on the notion that government relief impinges on the freedom of private citizens to control their generosity.

Did victims choose to donate their lives to freedom? They did not. They were killed in a vicious political attack, and it's our government's responsibility, and by proxy our responsibility as beneficiaries of democracy, to help their families recover. I am happy to spend my taxes on so worthy a cause. I'm still free to support charities of my choosing.

Secondly, American citizens choose how to spend taxpayer money by electing the political officials they want. If you don't like what your representatives do, vote someone else into office next time.

Paul Mange Johansen Lafayette Hill, Pa.

I believe it's a very nice thing to see the generosity of the American people who voluntarily gave to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. But our government's taking of money by force, via taxation, is a crime. The government shouldn't be allowed to legally force me to give my money, so it can give it away as it chooses. If our elected officeholders wish to purchase votes or help needy victims, let them use their own money.

Before finding out that our government was going to give the victims of Sept. 11 my money, I felt sorry for them for obvious reasons. But now, after our government has made their misfortune a first mortgage on my income, I find myself having to fight the feeling of resentment toward these innocent people. They don't deserve to be resented.

Joseph W. Reesman Rockville Centre, N.Y.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. We can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

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