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Tax-Funded Study of Rich a Poor Idea

November 13, 1994

Professors spending a $300,000 grant to see if the instant rich are happy and working ("$300,000 Study to Yield Wealth of Data on the Rich," Nov. 8)? Instead, why don't they have their graduate students in psychology and sociology do a joint thesis on "The Instant Rich Versus the Protestant Work Ethic." The $300,000 grant could be used to shelter, clothe and immediately employ homeless families. The same students could then study the effects on the necessities of life and self-esteem.

SUSAN KNIGHT

Orange

* Wow! So that's where our tax money goes; $300,000 in federal money to study the lifestyles of the rich and famous. How urgent--national security and all that.

Why not ask Geraldo, Robin Leach or "60 Minutes" to do it at their expense? If this interesting research is really urgent, the California Lottery could pay for it.

The $300,000 was reported to result in 400 interviews--at $750 per I hope it's more than a questionnaire in the mail. Not to criticize the distinguished faculty (4) who scoop up $75,000 each, but let's add a few interviews with the geniuses at National Science Foundation who doled out our tax dough.

PAUL ARTHUR

Irvine

* Would you please give me information on how to volunteer to be a subject in the study on how wealth alters a person's behavior?

RICHARD SHOWSTACK

Newport Beach

* Talk about modern-day Frankenstein, the thought of Eric Smith ("Boy, 14, Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison for Killing Child," Nov. 8) leaving prison frightens me. After spending puberty and the first two years of adulthood in prison, Eric will have only learned better ways to break the law and new methods of killing and torture. Throughout his productive nine-year term, taxpayers will have paid approximately $25,000 per year for his room, board and "education," as we do for all criminals currently in jail.

While Eric is waiting to be released, the federal government's National Science Foundation has granted $300,000 to the study of wealth and its impact on people who have won the lottery.

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the priorities here? More than a slight probability exists that those waiting on Death Row or sentenced to life in prison have demonstrated the same murderous tendencies as Eric Smith when they were 13. I would feel a lot safer at night if our government granted funding to the study of "intermittent explosive disorder" rather than whether money can buy happiness. If we were ever to invest any time, energy or funding into criminal analysis, perhaps we could prevent the evolution of monsters rather than allow the creation of more.

REGINA POWERS

Orange

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