Letters to the Editor
Readers write about government-run programs and America's approach to international treaties.
Government-run programs meet society's needs
Regarding Daniel Grant's Dec. 20 Opinion piece, "Rethink tax breaks for charitable giving," Mr. Grant writes that the rich get tax breaks for donating huge sums to their "cultural palaces" and research shows that charitable giving doesn't always help the poor. But higher taxes that support social programs in Europe and Canada result in less individual giving.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. Americans often disparage government-run programs for being "inefficient" or costly, but citizens pay taxes so their needs within a society will be met.
If government programs are properly funded and administered, they can be just as effective and more democratic because they are available to all citizens.
Private individuals or foundations, on the other hand, use highly selective criteria when they choose who will receive their money.
If the rich continue to get substantial tax perks from their donations, then the majority of people who carry the financial burden of running the government should be able to deduct a substantial amount of their healthcare costs, as well as the exorbitant expenses that are incurred in acquiring a higher education in America.
Everyone, not just the privileged, will then feel he has a stake in the country's welfare and progress.
How should the US approach treaties?
In response to Karl F. Inderfurth's Dec. 24 Opinion piece, "Washington's phobia of global treaties": Mr. Inderfurth laments America's reluctance to sign a number of international treaties.
The irony is that he would replace the phobia of global treaties with a mania for them.
Inderfurth specifically complains that the United States has not signed the Ottawa Treaty banning land mines. He says the US could get all sorts of accolades if only it would just sign up.
Unfortunately, an important part of our defense on the inter-Korean border is provided through land mines.
Inderfurth similarly chastises the US for not signing an international treaty dealing with people with disabilities. He assures us that this treaty is based on America's own Disabilities Act.
If it is already American law, why do we need to sign a treaty? Does this mean that whenever a diplomat comes up with a good idea that there has to be an international treaty on it?
Inderfurth would replace an illusory phobia for signing treaties with a mania for signing treaties because people will like us better.
Surely the answer is to sign those treaties compatible with our national interests and sovereignty.
Nevertheless, Inderfurth deplores the exceptionalism that he says feeds our treaty-phobia.
One is tempted to reply that we could perhaps dispense with American exceptionalism if we were not expected to do exceptional things.
James E. Geoffrey II
In response to Karl F. Inderfurth's Dec. 24 Opinion piece about the US not joining international treaties: Instead of taking all the heat for not signing international treaties, maybe the president ought to simply send each treaty and agreement to the Senate for ratification first. If the treaty can't get 67 votes in the Senate, the issue is moot.
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