Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of April 4, 2011
Readers write in about progressive social policies as necessary, not coercive; the need to cut defense spending, not just entitlements; and raising taxes for the rich to tackle US debt.
They 'chose' wrong parents
In his March 14 commentary ("When compassion turns into coercion"), Michael Knox Beran does a great job of exposing all the bad features of a "progressive social policy." But he does not offer a good solution for the people in our great country who seemed to have "chosen" the wrong parents. Without "free" public education or a progressive health-care policy, I wonder what the landscape of this country would look like.
It is easy for those who can afford good medical care to call universal coverage "coercive," but it often seems they have nothing to worry about – except what they may face in the future for neglecting the needy.
Real deficit drain: defense
The March 14 editorial ("Tea party can show its punch") emphasizes entitlement reform as vital to tackling US debt and balancing the budget. But it ignores the 20 percent of US spending that goes to defense.
We can't solve the deficit-spending problem without addressing the unfunded costs of the Bush wars or our ongoing defense spending. We spend more on defense, broadly defined, than the rest of the entire world combined. Defense spending needs to be on the table.
There has been little talk about the fact that to keep the budget balanced during war, taxes are necessary. The deficit was vastly increased by the very costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while at the same time more tax cuts were instituted that favored the wealthiest. War costs were further driven up because a draft would have been unacceptable, and large sums went to private contractors whose workers were paid more than soldiers.
Now, with a weak economy and many people in need, there seem to be no loud voices facing the fact that taxing is necessary.
To tackle debt, raise taxes
The March 14 news briefing ("Does crisis loom over 'debt ceiling'?") seems unbalanced. It emphasizes the option of cutting spending without specifically mentioning the tax increases that debt panels have indicated will be essential to balancing the budget and reducing debt to a manageable level.
In discussing the cause of the debt problem, the piece mentions healthcare costs, two wars, and efforts to stimulate the economy. But it doesn't mention tax cuts over-weighted to the richest taxpayers. The reference to "tax-system reforms" in the final "solution" paragraph does not provide balance either, because this term is usually interpreted to mean revenue-neutral changes.
Theodore S. Arrington
Emeritus professor of political science,