David R. Francis's article on estate taxes ("Tax the rich heirs - and charities gain") was an interesting exposure of the economic issues involved. The discussion should also involve values. The main argument to eliminate the estate tax is control of personal property after death. Equal opportunity is a cherished American value that would be weakened by eliminating the estate tax, as the opportunities of the rich would increase and those of the poor would not. The vaunted work ethic would also be diminished, as fewer would need to earn a living.
Social mobility would stiffen as a result of such an action, as the rich would tend toward a rigid aristocratic group. Finally, the many idealistic "Points of Light" promoted by George H.W. Bush would tend to flicker out, as less would be given to philanthropic causes, ever more needed at this time of year. I consider such values to outweigh the economic one.
Regarding your Nov. 28 editorial "Wanted: More Science Students": There is no "shortage" of science and engineering students. In reality, there is an over-supply of qualified Americans trained in such fields who simply cannot get decent jobs. Congress's expansion of the foreign-worker visa programs at the behest of well-heeled big-business interests has ensured that a permanent glut of high-tech workers exists and that unemployment and underemployment of qualified Americans continues to rise. At a time of record unemployment for American high-tech workers, as millions of such jobs are being "outsourced" to places like India and China, a bright young person would have to be completely insane to pursue an arduous course of study in the sciences.
Thank you for the Nov. 25 Opinion "Holding the line in Afghanistan" about education in Afghanistan. I think we would all be surprised at how many Americans agree with the education goals talked about. I remember the Marshall Plan for Europe after World War II. Education in Germany was started and controlled by the Allies for many years after the war. The Allies provided funds, books, and supplies for schools. The result was a well-educated postwar Germany capable of governing itself. I would prefer to have the US supply medical and educational materials rather than arms and ammunition to the world. Let's change our international priorities to sustain people. It wouldn't take much effort to donate educational supplies to Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq.
Regarding your Nov. 26 article "A dog's day in court": As a dog-show judge, dog breeder, and lifelong dog lover, I think it is time to say that extremist groups like PETA and the animal-rights movement have in mind no purposeful breeding of animals. These groups attack all animal uses. They oppose animals in medical research, in rodeos or circuses, and for food.
Animal-rights groups want to do everything they can to end purposeful breeding. As for common surgeries, tail docking is done when pups are a few days old. Declawing is also done early. These practices are not cruel and can prevent later injuries. Debarking has saved the lives of many noisy dogs who might otherwise be dumped in the pound. Declawing has kept cats in homes when they might otherwise be given up. Ear-cropping not only helps define breeds, but it can help prevent ear infections. Is it all necessary? That's the owner's choice, but done with proper medical skill, it is not cruel.
National Animal Interest Alliance
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