Criticism of the President's Policies
Regarding the editorial "Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy," Nov. 7: Does President Bush have a foreign policy? Is it foreign "policy" to wait for an international event and then react to it?What course has Bush charted for the disintegrating Soviet Union or the emergent democracies in Eastern Europe? In China, it appears the Bush "policy" is live and let live - democracy in Haiti is apparently of greater concern than democracy in China. This editorial's focus on the Middle East peace conference obscures the president's lack of foreign policy elsewhere. The author is, however, rightly concerned with the possibility of demagoguery on the issue. Recent history is replete with examples of political stunts displacing a serious discussion of pressing issues. Tim Dixon, Florence, Ala.
The article "Bush Pressured to Respond to Domestic Scene," Nov. 20, outlines signs of a disturbed economy which should have been predictable nearly a decade ago. Many people who earned $12 to $15 an hour are now earning roughly $5 to $7. Many are out of work. A disturbing number who once could afford to buy a home now cannot. Where did all the money go? The answer is simple: Into the hands of an increasingly small number of people. Examples include: the elimination of the 51 percent tax bracket for the wealthy; lack of enforcement of antitrust laws resulting in multibillion-dollar leveraged deals; and winked-at graft that produced the S&L failure - paid for by those who didn't run off with the billions. Such examples are the result of fiscal policies which are destroying the middle class. A prime aim should be to redistribute wealth. A good way to start, beyond enforcing existing laws, is to restore a fair tax on the wealthy. Ralph W. Emerson, Tacoma, Wash.
Middle-class economic woes In the opinion-page article "Ending the 'Silent Depression' for American Families," Nov. 22, the author commits a subtle crime: he shares incorrect statistics. The author claims that "Two million high-paying American manufacturing jobs were exported to Asia in the 1980s." How would he explain that 18 million jobs were created in the United States in the 1980s while Japan only added some 3 million? The US as a whole won the jobs race of the '80s. He also laments the plunge in home prices. He fails to point out, however, that the 40 percent increase in the capital-gains tax in 1986 is largely responsible for this because taxes soon get capitalized into market prices. Since a home is the major asset for a typical middle-class family, the negative impact of raising the capital-gains tax rate has hit the middle class the hardest. But don't expect Congress to rush to the aid of the middle class homeowner by cutting the capital-gains tax - they're afra id the wealthy might benefit, too. Yes, it often takes two incomes to provide a standard of living which just one income could provide for a middle-class family in the 1950s. Why? The long-term depreciation of the dollar, the explosive growth in the economic burden of government spending, enormous increases in Social Security taxes, to name a few of the misdeeds perpetrated by Congress. M. Hendrickson, New Wilmington, Pa.
Pitfalls of political pluralism I am bemused by the opinion-page article "A Competitive Politics," Nov. 21. The author's uncritical presumption that "true pluralism" is the answer to American political woes is as breathtaking as it is reckless. To take but a single example of the "rest of the world's democracies," which the author would have us emulate, note how "true pluralism" fails in Israel. That country has faced a locked-up parliamentary system for the past 20 years. This is the result of small, generally extremist, parties that hold a constitutional claim to seats in the Knesset. With so many parties sharing power, there is no power to govern - only power to thwart government. As the United States becomes more fragmented by special and single interest groups, I think it is inevitable that "true pluralism" in our election systems would result in a more splintered and ineffective Congress than we have now. John F. Burgess, Washington