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Letters: Income inequality equation

July 27, 2012
(Wes Bausmith / Los Angeles…)

Re "Level the playing field," Opinion, July 22

Joseph E. Stiglitz places much of the blame for weak economic growth and income inequality on "rent seeking" — activities focused on growing one's share of the pie rather than on growing the size of the pie itself. To the extent he is correct, it is a powerful argument in favor of a complete restructuring of our tax code, including the elimination of subsidies and loopholes.

Tax breaks such as the mortgage interest deduction incentivize particular behaviors. When government shapes behavior through financial incentives, it behooves every corporation (through lobbying and contributions) and taxpayer (through voting and contributions) to influence the rules. They are simply caring for their own survival and self-interest.

Loopholes were not created by corporations or wealthy individuals; they were created by politicians. The path to equality is to simplify our tax structure and to reduce as much as possible the opportunity for favors or loopholes.

Glen Esnard

Newport Beach

In the face of a nearly $16-trillion national debt, Stiglitz is calling for — surprise — more spending, specifically on education, for which we spend much more than we did 30 years ago, for worse results, and training people for jobs that no longer exist.

Every progressive argument needs a straw man; Stiglitz's is that Republicans want to "cut our way to prosperity." In truth, conservatives understand that although conquering the debt tsunami is mostly a matter of cutting, it will also require additional tax revenue, ideally in the form of lower but broader-based income taxes and the elimination of tax loopholes — also known as the Romney plan.

E.G. Rice

Marina del Rey

Stiglitz is exactly right: Correcting income inequality is America's best bet to solve its economic problems. Unfortunately, Congress will not legislate any form of income equality, and CEOs and investment banks have shown they are still stuck on the Gordon Gekko mantra of "greed is good." So now what?

It is up to voters to replace every politician who believes in trickle-down economics. Unfortunately, voters in the middle of the U.S. (red states) buy into the Republicans' bogus economic arguments, as more of them were sent to Congress after the economy collapsed.

Wake up, middle America, and connect the economic dots.

Dave Koepke

West Hills

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