Editor: We are pleased Michael Kinsley (TRB) agrees (Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 14) that the current luxury tax on boats does not make sense and that it is a silly way to tax the rich.
However, TRB misses the point entirely when he says that the dire effects of the luxury tax are being grossly exaggerated. They are not.
TRB's s ''Kinsleyan Economic Theory'' -- if money is spent elsewhere it creates jobs and if it's saved, that is good, too -- is full of holes.
Rich people's money can be, and is being, spent around the globe. They can buy villas on the Riviera or apartments in Paris. They can circle the world on the QEII, or buy islands offshore. They can keep their present yachts and still enjoy the sport; or they can buy new foreign-built boats in the Bahamas and not pay the U.S. tax.
As for savings, they can buy land or gold or offshore investments, and have little effect on our distressed economy or tax base.
Make no mistake, the 10 percent luxury excise tax on new boats costing over $100,000 is costing jobs. Dozens of quality boat builders have already gone bankrupt and thousands of skilled boat craftsmen have lost their jobs.
The U.S. boat building industry, once one of the strongest in the world, is in serious trouble because many people are refusing to buy new boats and pay the onerous tax.
We can hear the statistics until we become insensitive to them. But the members of the Yacht Architects and Brokers Association -- the people who sell boats and daily talk to potential boat buyers -- can add to the argument for tax repeal the element of anecdotal truth.
Their customers are telling them time and time again: ''I won't buy this boat because I won't pay the luxury tax.''
The time for repeal of the tax on new boat sales is now, before more manufacturers close their doors, before another skilled worker is unemployed.
George W. Brown.
The writer is executive director of the Yacht Architects and Brokers Association.
Editor: Regarding the column, ''Missing Voices in the Israeli Debate,'' I have seen evidence of the blind support of Prime Minister Shamir's government here in Baltimore.
I was with the Baltimore Jewish community's Washington Mission which met all day with pro-Israeli lobbyists, senators, and congressmen Oct. 3. The subject of discussion was the Middle East situation in general and specifically President Bush's opposition to the $10 billion loan guarantee.
Not once in these meetings was there any mention of the Palestinians who have been subjected to Israel's police state with a human face: expropriation of Palestinian-owned land on ,, the West Bank, torture and detainment of Palestinians without benefit of speedy trial or any hearing at all and the exploitation of Palestinians for cheap wage labor.
This is a corruption of power which even now rots the Jewish democratic state from within. Nobody in the American Jewish establishment wants to talk about it because people don't want to appear disloyal to Israel in public or because they feel guilt from not having done enough during the Holocaust.
It's time for American Jews to start thinking for themselves.
David S. Lavine.
Right to Slaughter?
Editor: The U.S. House of Representative's rejection of a measure to ban certain semi-automatic assault weapons and large ammo clips is of concern.
What would the Founding Fathers and framers of the Constitution think of the sacrosanct right to bear arms if they assembled in today's Baltimore, where about 20 of every 100,000 citizens are murdered annually by criminals using handguns?
Or to Washington, where handgun murders are nearly half again as frequent?
Probably they'd rather return to Philadelphia -- a city of brotherly love, by comparison, where only 14 of every 100,000 citizens are murdered with guns.
Heck, the Redcoats are gone. We have a multi-billion-dollar militia.
We don't need to let assault weapons get into the hands of lunatics and hot-heads out of a misguided devotion to some right which the framers would surely delete today if they could hear the bullets whiz overhead.
Stephen C. Hooper.
Editor: In this age of super-highway networks and jet plane airports, a small state that depends heavily on a residential income tax and whose local jurisdictions rely very much on a homeowners' real estate tax, will always be in an ever-worsening financial quandary, having to choose between above average tax rates or reduced services. Perhaps small states, for all their charm, have become anachronisms.
Otto A. Klier.
Editor: The Sun called the Maryland representatives who voted against the assault gun ban cowards. Nonsense.
These people voted down a useless piece of legislation that would have impacted none of the problems the bill hoped to solve. They showed courage in refusing to be stampeded by a media-produced hysteria that looked for easy answers to difficult problems.