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'Demeaning Our Own Values'

July 27, 1986

Thanks for printing Richard Goodwin's column about the growing apart of rich and poor classes in America as symbolized--even dramatized unwittingly--by the recent Statue of Liberty extravaganza.

A few decades ago many observers of the social scene were happily telling us of the narrowing gap between rich and poor in our nation, of a widening middle class. What happened? What caused this reversal and what are its implications?

The only explanation I can offer to the first part of this question is a personal perception: There has been a change in the mental atmosphere of a large portion of the population. To put it bluntly, selfishness has, to a considerable extent, crowded out a concern for the welfare of others less fortunate.

We are moving in a wrong and dangerous direction, which, if carried far enough, could produce social instability and erosion of our nation's greatness.

Incidentally, a pertinent and timely question is: Will the much-heralded tax bill now in the Congress widen the income disparity? I believe it will. The greatest benefits again go to the rich.

The problem in the main is not aired by our political leaders, or our journalists either. So when a writer does bring it into the open I, for one, applaud this as a public service.

JOHN C. PENNELL

Woodland Hills

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