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Don't Hate the Rich Man; Ask Him to Look Around

January 13, 2003

Re "Don't Hate Me Because I'm Rich," Commentary, Jan. 9: If Larry Paquette can take a breather from his self-congratulation for a minute and actually focus on other people for a change, he might notice a few things: (1) People who are less affluent actually do work hard, often much harder than he does, and get a lot less for it. (2) Jobs are created by economic growth, to which we all contribute, not just him. (3) I doubt that he pays anything close to a 50% tax level. But even that level is among the lowest in the industrialized world. (4) He's rich because he's lucky, not because he's morally superior to anyone else.

The real issue isn't whether noble rich people should be robbed to redistribute income to lazy paupers. The real issue is whether people of moderate means should be robbed to give unwarranted tax breaks to people like him. I think they shouldn't be. President Bush and Paquette apparently disagree with me.

Stephen Maas

Long Beach

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I'm truly happy that Paquette can count himself among the top 10% of wage earners. I just hope for his sake that his company remains recession-proof, that one day he isn't laid off and replaced by a younger guy (who has also worked two jobs to get through school), that his savings don't vanish before he has to take something much lower in prestige and salary just to make ends meet, that he doesn't get sick after his insurance runs out and that, when he finally turns 65, those compassionate conservatives in the government haven't cut the safety net of Social Security and Medicare.

Circumstance and bad health can trump hard work and success in a heartbeat. I do hope Paquette doesn't learn that the hard way.

Maxine O'Callaghan

Lake Elsinore

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Paquette may not realize it, but he's looking for a handout, too. "Oh, please, sir, just a bit of your sympathy. Because I sacrificed so much to be rich today. Oh, my lost youth in that bicycle factory! Ah, the guilt about all those birthday parties I didn't attend!" Cut to the chase, please. You made your decision to get far ahead financially, and now you want to keep as much as you can. That's a very understandable position.

But don't package it in schmaltz and maudlin background noise. What this country really doesn't need is yet another group of victims: rich guys.

John de Jong

Long Beach

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I know there is no shortage of liberals whining about how evil Bush and the Republicans are for proposing relief on taxes for those of us who pay them. These people are mostly clueless, dysfunctional losers who want government handouts from cradle to grave. They don't care who pays for them, or if dividends are taxed twice. All they know is gimme, gimme, gimme.

Unfortunately, this mentality seems to be in the majority in this wacky state of ours. Just look at how Gov. Gray Davis and the Democrat-controlled state Legislature have spent money like drunken sailors these last four years. Now the hard-working taxpayers in this state are going to be asked again to pay up.

Bush's economic plan may or may not stimulate the economy. But one thing is certain: Higher taxes and more spending only serve to keep people dependent on government and penalize those of us with the ambition to make something of ourselves.

Geoffrey C. Church

Los Angeles

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Paquette whines, "How have we changed, then, to an ethic of redistributing the wealth from those who are economically productive to those who refuse to be?" Here is the reality check: In the last two decades, the rich's share of the nation's wealth and income has dramatically increased. Our "ethic" is in fact one of redistributing wealth from the poor to the rich.

Paul R. Ward

Redlands

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