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Letters to the editor

Predicting the presidential election, income inequality in America; Jonah Goldberg on Tom Brokaw

November 11, 2011
  • Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick Perry participate in a debate hosted by CNBC and the Michigan Republican Party in Rochester, Mich. on Nov. 9. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, and Rick…

Seeing the future

Re "Presidential crystal balls," Opinion, Nov. 6

There are formulas and even more formulas for predicting outcomes; Doyle McManus' column lists several for predicting the 2012 presidential election.

All this notwithstanding, I recall a formula that never fails: You can't beat somebody with nobody, but you can beat somebody with somebody. As of this writing, the Republicans have got nobody.

Ellis Katz


Money, and who has it

Re "The wealth divide," Opinion, Nov. 7

Joyce Appleby ends her Op-Ed article by wondering "how long political equality can survive amid such economic inequality." Ending on this note is a rhetorical trick. She buries the reality two paragraphs previous, in admitting that "despite the predictions of supply-siders, little of that wealth trickled down."

Contrary to Appleby's view, we have a severe deficiency of, as she puts it, "government policies that protect opportunity." Instead, we have an excess of government policies that protect wealth, in the failed promise that such wealth will trickle down.

This political inequality is now widely regarded as class warfare, and it won't be tolerated any longer in our awakening democracy.

Tom Prager

Huntington Beach

Appleby writes that the top 10th of the top 1% contains 13,000 people. Couple this with the fact that there are 500,000 people making more than $1 million a year and you realize that there are many more people in that upper crust than there has ever been.

What I do not understand about correcting this divide is how taking wealth from top earners makes the bottom portion wealthier. All it does is give more money to the government. And as Appleby points out, income (including social programs), as opposed to wealth, has the tendency to get spent.

Additionally, because nearly 50% of Americans pay no federal income taxes, it's difficult to ease the tax burden on the poor. So in the end all you have accomplished is lowering the ceiling while the bottom is just as poor.

Ed Broomfield


According to Appleby, the top 1% of Americans each have assets of more than $9 million. That's fine with me.

What's not right is that — according to political scientist Jeffrey Winters, the author of "Oligarchy" — a few hundred individuals each have 20,000 times the assets of the average American in the bottom 90%. Progressive tax rates are meant to reduce such unreasonable accumulations of wealth, especially considering that the super-rich and the corporations they control are hoarding most of their earnings.

This is why we should return to the income tax rates that paid for World War II and the Korean War. The top marginal rates then topped out at more than 50% for corporations and 90% for individuals.

Maitland Alexander


I think Appleby is confused. She states: "We may embrace the American dream of broad prosperity and wealth equity."

Wealth equity is a socialist dream, not the American dream, although it may be her American dream.

Charlie Morgan

San Clemente

Comparing coverages

Re "A GOP disparity on coverage for all," Column, Nov. 8

Surely David Lazarus is not serious in comparing the compulsory purchase of health insurance with the optional purchase of telephone service.

No one is forced to buy telephone service or Internet access, and many people voluntarily go without and therefor do not pay to subsidize service in rural areas.

But "Obamacare" forces one to buy health insurance or pay a fee. These are not comparable.

Being in favor of the service fee does not compel support for Obamacare, and there is no contradiction. Perhaps that is why none of the Republican lawmakers Lazarus asked about the supposed contradiction called him back.

Carl Pearlston


Lazarus hits the nail on the head when he describes universal coverage for telecom services as corporate socialism. We all need ways to communicate in emergencies. Healthcare reform is no less important but appears more elusive in spite of the Affordable Care Act.

Ironically, Medicare is not socialism; it has always guaranteed freedom of choice to both Medicare recipients and their physicians in the healthcare arena. Government control of payments is not socialism but a public trust. Medicare for all is not socialism but a way of guaranteeing healthcare equality.

Jerome P. Helman, MD


School reform

Re "Backsliding on school reform," Editorial, Nov. 5

The Times faults the Harkens-Enzi proposal for a new education law because it lacks national standards. Without national standards, The Times insists, schools will have "no incentive to improve."

In reality, American teachers have been successful without national standards. Middle-class students attending well-funded schools score at the top on international tests. Our overall scores are mediocre because the U.S. has a very high level of child poverty, with 21% of children living in poverty, compared with high-scoring Finland's 5%.

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