A Job and Taxes
What a difference a job makes! Those of us who have one spend a lot of time grumbling about the amount of taxes we have to pay.
For someone who has lost a job and can't find another, to have a steady income from which to pay taxes would seem like a dream come true. There is an "everyone for oneself" philosophy that fails to recognize we are all in the same lifeboat. A modest increase in taxes, if used effectively to stimulate job creation, would make things better for us all. If more people had jobs, there would be more taxpayers and the burdens more widely shared. We'd all have more money in our pockets in the long run.
There is a striking contrast between the poignant article "The Descent into Poverty," by Shari Beshore (April 1) and the letter from Don Allen in the same issue, labeled "Working for Taxes." Mr. Allen's antipathy to taxes is obviously widely held, as evidenced by the many similar letters you've published and by the abuse heaped on legislators about taxes. All these complainers have jobs. In the Beshore article, about a man who once made a steady $18 an hour and now is desperately trying to survive on a part-time $4.25 an hour, fasting for two or three days at a time so his young son has enough to eat, the word "taxes" is not mentioned once.
Mr. Allen says, "Hard work, not social programs, will get you ahead." Tell that to the hundreds of thousands, most of them loyal and hard working, laid off by General Motors, IBM, Westinghouse, General Dynamics, Chrysler, the banks, the government. Tell that to all those who have lost their homes, their cars, their self-respect.
He also says, "Do you ever wonder how this country got along all these years without the tax-expanding, bureaucracy-laden programs?" Well, he probably isn't old enough to remember, but in 1929-1932 this country didn't have any of those programs, and we didn't do so well. Franklin D. Roosevelt came in and expanded taxes and laid on the bureaucracy and it turned out to be just what the country needed. In the 1950s, the last great conservative Republican president spent over $100 billion of taxpayers' money on the federal highway system, and it spawned millions of jobs in all kinds of industries. Tax rates were much higher than today and we were very prosperous.
It is well established that we pay a lower proportion of our income in taxes than any of the other great countries, notably including Japan. Because of this, our infrastructure is collapsing, education is deteriorating, we are laying off firemen and police and eliminating services. In the voodoo economics of the Reagan/Bush era, we've built up an enormous debt which will have to be paid sometime. Our children and grandchildren will discover that we have been the most irresponsible generation in history, as they get the "trickle-down" effect of unbearably high tax rates and our legacy of debt.
I doubt if any other purveyor of hate literature could have received the sort of coverage you gave Salman Rushdie's visit to the United States (The Sun, March 25). Rushdie obviously hates his people, their religion and their way of life.
Muslims in America will have to stand up for their rights to stop this sort of thing from happening. Rushdie's "Satanic Verses" shows the holiest female personalities of the Islamic tradition as prostitutes, of course in a contrived dream sequence. If the household of the messenger of Islam can suffer such gross abuse in a book, and then the establishment media unite to ram that book down the public's collective throats in the name of freedom, it would not be incorrect to state that Muslims in America are only second-class citizens. But for Imam Khomeini's fatwa, he would have been paraded all over the country and perhaps movies would have been made about the slanderous book.
The U.S. government will make a serious mistake if it decides to endorse Rushdie and his book. It will be like saying that the rights of a billion Muslims across the world do not exist.
Who Needs NEA?
In his letter of March 22, Robert P. Bergman blames the attacks on the National Endowment of the Arts on a coalition of the religious and political right, which are guilty of self-righteousness and hate-mongering. Mr. Bergman defends the NEA by saying that only 25 of 25,000 grants have been controversial.
I would simply say that mediocrity is never a cause of heated argument. If we have been giving to "artists" and their endeavors for 27 years, where is just one noteworthy work, or one great artist, we have to show for our money?
The only visible results I have seen are monstrosities that look more like junk heaps in front of public buildings -- scrap metal called sculpture. We have supported the hobbies of those people too long; it is time for them to go out and earn a living. Cut out the NEA entirely. If it is worthwhile to assist some museums, do so by some other method.
Edward W. Clautice