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Taxing the rich to save the economy; airport body scanners; L.A. County's plastic bag ban

November 21, 2010

Tax cuts and the ailing economy

Re "Tax the rich to help us all," Opinion, Nov. 17

Dwight Eisenhower maintained high taxes on the wealthy to fund worthwhile projects such as our interstate highway system. Bill Clinton saw the need to reduce the debt that Ronald Reagan left us, resulting in a 4% unemployment rate and an eventual budget surplus.

Republicans continue to insist that increasing taxes on the rich will slow job creation. The Eisenhower and Clinton examples debunk that theory. For most of George W. Bush's eight years in office, all of us have benefited from tax breaks, especially the very rich. According to the Republican philosophy, the rich should have helped in creating jobs long before now. Where are all those jobs?

Anti-government types tend to hoard their wealth. If we have to force the wealthiest to help fuel our economy and rebuild our infrastructure, so be it.

Robert C. Lutes

Temple City

Adler touts the tax increase that Clinton enacted in 1993 as the main reason the economy improved. He neglects the fact that the post-1994 Republican Congress forced Clinton to rein in spending and enact welfare reform (after he vetoed it twice).

Adler also cites the 91% tax bracket during the Eisenhower era as proof that higher taxes work. But at the time, government spending was very low, and the economy grew at an average annual rate of only 2.4% during his presidency. John F. Kennedy reduced taxes, and the economy took off.

Bob Guarrera

Laguna Niguel

Adler's article reminds me of the definition of democracy: Two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.

Jim Johnson

Hemet

Church-state options

Re "Will abortion be an issue again?" Opinion, Nov. 17

Thanks for Tim Rutten's depressing article on the narrow-mindedness of America's Roman Catholic bishops. Rutten quotes Jesuit theologian Thomas Reese about the "much more conservative voice in the writing of the Faithful Citizenship statement which will help guide Catholic voters in the 2012 election."

Somebody should tell the bishops about separation of church and state; failing that, perhaps removal of the church's tax-exempt status will get them to stop meddling with voters' choices.

Religious leaders' overt political role must not be tolerated unless their institutions are willing to pay taxes.

Joseph Bonino

Glendale

Why is it "stunning" that the U.S. Conference of Bishops elected Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York as its president?

No Catholic can support the church's unequivocal opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage and at the same time vote for a party that disdains those beliefs.

In that sense, solving the "Catholic electoral equation" shouldn't be too difficult for Democrats — either leave the church or leave the party. But perhaps Democrats should pray about it first.

Gary P. Taylor

Santa Ysabel, Calif.

Not everyone wants a scan

Re "Shut up and be scanned," Editorial, Nov. 17

Imagine my surprise when I read that The Times considers something short of cavity searches by the Transportation Security Administration to be acceptable. It also cavalierly dismisses safety and privacy concerns.

A group of UC San Francisco professors recently pointed out serious problems with the risk assessment of full-body scanners (for example, backscatter X-ray machines deliver their dosage entirely to the skin, while the safety analysis is based on full-body exposure).

Considering the long history of technology once assumed safe, The Times should not be so quick to dismiss concerns.

Randall Gellens

San Diego

Too often Americans have been told that the latest TSA requirement is a necessary evil for public safety. Some Americans always agree, saying "I'll do it if it makes us safer."

So if it really does make us safer, where are the statistics to prove it? How many would-be shoe bombers have TSA searches identified? Underwear bombers? Laptop bombers? Three-ounce liquid container bombers?

I'd like to know how many terrorists the TSA has identified, let alone stopped, before I believe that Madonna-style crotch grabbing is really a safety enhancement.

Kyle Hunter

Tucson

The headline is enough. Good for you, L.A. Times.

If the scanning that accompanies flying is too much, take a train, a bus or a car. But enough with the griping.

Bill Gibson

San Clemente

Plastic bags have their uses

Re "L.A. County passes ban on plastic grocery bags," Nov. 17

This doesn't go far enough. The next step is to get our incorporated cities to endorse this ban. Since state legislators failed to pass such an initiative earlier this year, it's going to be piecemeal.

Complaining that this places a burden on poor people is not a valid argument. Many places have even given reusable bags away, so shop around.

The L.A. City Council should have moved on its 2008 initiative to implement a ban by last July. That date has passed. Get with the program.

Beverly Franco

Monterey Park

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