Re "War on Progressive Taxes," editorial, Feb. 5: Progressive income taxes are based on the theory that the higher a person's income, the more that person should be able to contribute toward the support of the government. This principle of progressive income tax recognizes that a poor family suffers more by giving up 10% of its income than a wealthy family that gives up 10%. The general acceptance of the progressive income tax helped make the tax system more just. All citizens in a democracy have a responsibility to pay something, but those who can afford to pay more are asked to do so.
President Theodore Roosevelt, in his Dec. 3, 1906, message on a graduated inheritance tax and income tax, stated: "The man of great wealth owes a peculiar obligation to the state, because he derives special advantage from the mere existence of government. Not only should he recognize this obligation in the way he leads his daily life and in the way he earns and spends his money, but it should also be recognized by the way in which he pays for the protection the state gives him."
Norman G. Axe
What puzzles me about the Republicans' greed and assault on the middle and lower classes is what kind of society they expect to inhabit in the future. Do they imagine that those millions ejected from the American dream will accept their lot quietly and invisibly? Have they no fear of rising crime, public health crises, political unrest and the other problems of Third World countries with the gap between rich and poor that we are rapidly achieving?
Less abstractly, what if their maids come to work with untreated communicable diseases? What if no plumbers can afford to live close enough to Martha's Vineyard or Aspen to fix a broken pipe? I believe it will be less fun to be rich, as well as poor, once President Bush is finished dismantling the social contract of modest gains and big dreams that the nonrich used to enjoy in this country.
The government has no money -- no money for education, medical care, roads, the arts, a safe space program, help for the farmers: all the many things that have made our country great. But our government has plenty of money for a war, and now it is saying maybe two wars. Where is that war money coming from?
What country do the people live in who complain bitterly about tax cuts? This is the U.S., founded by a tax revolt, dedicated to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, not misery and submission to oppression. One of the truest insights ever is that "the power to tax is the power to destroy." There are no "massive tax cuts" proposed, only paltry relief from abusive taxes imposed for decades, especially by the Clinton-Gore commissariat, even on retirees' pitifully small Social Security returns.
Ecstasy is imminent for tax lovers, however, when Gov. Gray Davis and his one-party Legislature get through with you. You'll pay for the incredible deficit they created by wildly wasting California's already-bloated taxes.
Charles K. Sergis