Environmental Protection vs. Economic Growth

Thank you for the editorial "The Environment," Sept. 22. The comments on the need for our country to accept the social and economic costs of environmental protection are exactly correct.

Since World War II the United States has been growing economically at an almost unstoppable rate - for the most part without regard to the cost to the environment and the health of the people. We are now realizing these costs all across the nation. For those of us who treasure a safe environment for our children, the reality sounds more like a nightmare.

As the editorial states, the Republican Party's environmental platform emphasizes that environmental progress relies on economic gains. To a natural-resource manager, this position is fundamentally backwards. Isn't it time to recognize that without a stable environment we have no foundation for a healthy economy?

One has only to look at the timber industry in the Northwest to see a forest economy in decline due in part to over-consumption of the timber resource. A more graphic example is in Haiti, where its forests, soil, and water have been so depleted that rebuilding its economy rests on rebuilding its natural resources. Roger Sternberg, Chelsea, Vt. Heirs to money

The Economy page article "New Report Says Legacy May Stall Heirs' Motivation," Sept. 10, presents the valid argument that many heirs who inherit significant money drop out of the work force, thus reducing the national work effort, which also means less income-tax revenue.

There are other facets to this situation. Some of those with inherited wealth spend much time doing volunteer work or involving themselves in the arts, which they would not otherwise be able to afford to do. These activities are not tabulated in the national work effort or income-tax totals, but they certainly enrich our country. Dropping out of the work force also creates vacancies for other less-fortunate persons to fill, thus aiding them and adding to our economy.

The House Ways and Means Committee is working on a new tax bill which includes lowering the amount a person can pass on to heirs estate-tax free from $600,000 to $200,000. The $600,000 was increased from $100,000, effective over a period of years, to compensate for the devaluation of the dollar due to inflation.

If Congress can first be ineffectual in controlling inflation and second take away a compensation for this ineffectiveness, where is the incentive for them to be fiscally responsible? Georgiana Hall, Rabun Gap, Ga. Balancing the budget

Regarding the front-page article "Grass-Roots Moves to Cut Federal Deficit Sprout, but Impact Still Limited," Sept. 21: It is well and good for groups like "Lead ... or Leave" and the Concord Coalition to rail against those in Congress who seem so obstinate in refusing to balance the budget. The truth, though, is that our representatives are representing us for better or worse. We blast Congress for not cutting back, but we don't want to cut programs that touch us directly.

This blatant hypocrisy on the part of voters was summarized in the last paragraph of the article: These grass-roots groups "support each other" but "differ on how to reach the goal." We don't have a balanced budget because we won't sacrifice what we hold near and dear. Nun Bush, Bethel, Conn

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