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War, Debt and Bush's Plan

January 18, 2003

Re "Bush Breaks With 140 Years of History in Plan for Wartime Tax Cut," Washington Outlook, Jan. 13: Face it. Any man without cash who sets out to enjoy a new car, a vacation or a war, expecting someone else to pay for it, is a thief. Attacking a smaller country for its oil, and making posterity pay the war bills, would make every American doubly a party to thievery.

Shall we slumber on while an impulsive president plays war with an unlimited credit card? His cockeyed system of "lick the world" but "don't pay as you go" will propel our nation into bankruptcy, thence to hell in a basket.

George W. Feinstein

Altadena

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Thanks to Ronald Brownstein for pointing out some of the folly of President Bush's economic plans. But the numbers are much worse than he reported. The national debt is $6.382 trillion. If you counted $1 a second, it would take you 30,000 years to count to a trillion, or 180,000 years or so to count the current debt. The Congressional Budget Office projects the debt for 2008 to be $8.354 trillion -- without the proposed economic stimulus package or a war.

Each citizen's share of the current debt is $22,233.80. The debt has climbed an average of $1.3 billion a day since September 2001. The fiscal policy of the U.S. is starting to look more and more like that of WorldCom.

Mitchell Krieger

Tustin

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Re "Divided (by Class) We'll Fall," Commentary, Jan. 12: As part of the chorus of criticism provoked by the recent tax cut proposal, John Balzar suggests that our source of national pride is a "quest of togetherness" and implicitly advocates a return to the days of 90% taxation on the highest incomes. While togetherness is certainly a laudable goal, it has no apparent relation to confiscatory taxation.

It's hard to imagine a policy that more strongly vitiates the founding principles of this nation. For most of our history, income taxes were levied only under extreme circumstances (e.g., the Civil War) at a very low rate on the highest incomes and were ultimately declared unconstitutional. It took a constitutional amendment to make the federal income tax legal.

The founding principles of this nation included a recognition that economic freedom is an essential component of liberty. It is inevitable that such freedom leads to inequality. This holds even for people at the same income level: Since I may be more frugal than my neighbor, over time I may become a much wealthier man simply by saving and investing. Am I therefore to be vilified -- and taxed -- for exacerbating inequality in our society? Such inequality may provoke envy, but that is hardly a wise basis for social policy.

Inequality is not intrinsically bad. The problem is that some people are poor, not that others are rich. Furthermore, the latter does not cause the former, at least not in free societies that have thrown off the shackles of feudalism. In a society that valued equality as much as Balzar does, everyone would be equally poor.

Michael Hartl

Pasadena

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The present discussion surrounding "class warfare" has everything to do with the liberal Democrat version of defining "the rich." A simple translation is that the rich are evil for making money and that the government is good for taking away some of that money. Of course, they would never put it that way; it is always a "redistribution of resources."

Every time a Republican president speaks of a tax cut, the liberals howl about it benefiting the rich. Who are these rich and how much exactly do they make to be described that way? Of course tax cuts help "the rich" -- the top 10% of income earners pay two-thirds of all income taxes.

Most of the wealth in America today has been self-created, not through birth or inheritance. The working class has to be redefined to include everyone who gets out of bed and slugs it out competing in the workplace.

"Middle class" used to imply that one has adequate food and shelter and can afford a week's vacation but does not have wealth. That has changed. America has greatly expanded opportunity and by doing so has created the first mass affluent society in world history. Today this "working class" does participate in the stock market, through IRAs and 401(k)s at a minimum.

Any proposals for letting our workers keep more of that hard-earned money to put into investments are worthwhile.

Michael Parente

Woodland Hills

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At a flag-making plant Bush accuses Democrats of class warfare (Jan. 10). To paraphrase a mediocre actor and overrated president, "There they go again." Anyone who has the gall to criticize the relentless migration of wealth to the upper strata of American society is, somehow, envious and engaging in "class warfare."

The warfare Bush speaks of has been waged for some time against the poor and disenfranchised of our country. Witness "GOP Moves to Slash Domestic Program Funds" (Jan. 10) -- in total, $9 billion. The Republicans long ago launched a major offensive in this war. Beleaguered liberals and moderates are fighting a defensive battle to hold onto what little ground we have left.

Steve Eastin

Toluca Lake

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