He led in many ways
Re "Buddy Collette, 1921 – 2010: L.A. jazz saxophone player and bandleader," Obituary, Sept. 21
We have lost a great jazz musician and humanitarian.
In 1994, Buddy Collette visited my daughter's performing arts magnet and taught her and others to play jazz flute and saxophone.
He was generous and utterly accessible and lit up any room he entered.
What he did for music, he did for civil rights. And what he did for civil rights, he did for everyone he encountered.
In 1955, I was working construction, going to college at night and hanging out at a club near the water in Long Beach, listening to the Chico Hamilton Quintet.
As each set finished, I tried to get Chico to talk to me; sometimes he was gracious and would sit down. Most of the time he was too busy, especially as the band became more popular.
But one guy who almost always stopped and talked was Buddy Collette.
He was always gracious and explained the music they were playing and what they were trying to accomplish.
And we often talked race, because there were never a lot of black people in the audience.
Buddy did a lot of great things for jazz, both as a musician and as a human being.
Talking about paying taxes
Re "Uncle Sam gets his sliver," Sept. 10
Good for entrepreneur Garrett Gruener for advocating greater social justice, even if it means taxing him more.
He's perfectly right that the periods of greatest economic inequality — 1929 and 2008 — preceded
Unfortunately, achieving social justice is a long shot in an age in which giant corporations wield virtually unchecked power.
Still, it's a goal worth fighting for.
The column calling for an end to the Bush tax cuts for the rich was a breath of fresh air.
Our economy excelled when President Clinton returned the taxes on the wealthy to a more equitable level. By contrast, with the Bush tax cuts, as the author noted, "We got nearly a decade of anemic job growth, stagnating wages, declining incomes and high inequality."
That's not the path for a better America. Those calling for continuation of the tax cuts for the very wealthy may wave banners reading "Country First," but they should read "Greed First."
Allow me to remind the writer that if he feels so tormented that he isn't paying enough taxes, there is no law preventing him from writing checks to the U.S. or state treasury over and above what he actually owes.
He sounds nostalgic for the days of "anemic job growth" we had under the last president, when the unemployment rate stood at 4.4% in 2007.
Or maybe he would like to go back to the days of Jimmy Carter, when we had double-digit unemployment and sky-high energy prices.
I bet a lot of these rich people crying that they aren't taxed enough take advantage of every deduction, credit and loophole their highly paid accountants can dream of come April 15.
"None of my investments has ever been motivated by the rate at which I would have to pay personal income tax,"writes Gruener in your opinion pages.
My first reaction is to declare him a fool because after-tax returns are exactly how small-business owners evaluate growth projects.
But the reality is that he is no small-business owner.
I believe that he does personally consider tax policy in other ways when it actually does impact him (e.g. salary versus dividends, tax-free versus taxable investment income).
And keep in mind that if he wants to pay more to the IRS, he may do so now without the benefit of higher marginal tax rates.
Put together, we have a disingenuous attempt by a liberal to advocate for taxes largely paid by others.
When I read the column, I was struck by a strong sense of deja vu.
This is fast becoming a well-worn cliche in the argument for higher taxes: The nouveau riche Internet mogul or whatever who broadcasts loudly in a heroically noble fashion that yes, they need to pay more taxes, and so do we.
The simple question is this: When taxes were lowered, did it become illegal to continue to pay at the previous rates?
To every multimillionaire who got rich in front of a keyboard or camera, I invite you to start paying your taxes at the Clinton levels to show us how sincere you are.
Richard B. Williams
They're the only ones reaping
Re "Buyout's bitter fruit," Business, Sept. 19
As a longtime customer of Harry & David, I've enjoyed the wonderful pears many times in spite of the increasing cost per bite. Now I begin to understand why the prices have increased so much in recent years.
Thanks for the excellent story, which is, unfortunately, a familiar one. The apparent recipe? Use highly leveraged credit to buy the company, loot it and walk away from the wreckage, including the employees. The new American way of doing business.