Gas TaxI was several paragraphs into John Shlaes' letter...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 30, 1993

Gas Tax

I was several paragraphs into John Shlaes' letter (April 12) about the carbon tax before I realized that his Global Climate Coalition might better be called the "Gas Guzzler Coalition."

The following quote speaks for itself: "The latest data indicates [sic] that warming temperatures will not lead to a rise in sea level, in part because the warming would occur primarily at night."

Does he think that global warming is a night-time phenomenon? Some of his other comments are equally questionable and almost as amusing.

He is correct that a carbon tax would mean higher prices for fuels such as oil and gas; that's the point of the tax.

The tax would also mean the introduction of efficient market forces to make our economy use these fuels more effectively.

That would represent a long-term benefit to our economy, our environment and all of us.

Rob Bonney

Pasadena

National Debt

Harry B. Howe's April 13 letter disputes my contention that Social Security benefits are, indeed, income.

My Funk & Wagnall's defines income as "amount of money coming in" -- which would certainly seem to include Social Security checks.

Obviously, Mr. Howe believes that half the benefits he receives were already taxed once and that "it is the same as if you put money in a bank account."

Why is it that when I put money in the bank, I am not allowed to withdraw anything beyond what I put in, plus a little taxable interest?

My bank will not let me continue to withdraw money for as long as I live. It will not allow my surviving spouse to keep on drawing money until her demise.

It will not pay me benefits during my working years, if I should become disabled. It does not pay survivor benefits to my dependents. Nor dies it try to protect me during my retirement years from the ravages of inflation with regular cost-of-living adjustments.

Social Security does all of these things -- and it continues to do them long after I and the vast majority of retirees have exhausted the amount initially paid into the system.

Mr. Howe may feel comfortable in bequeathing a $16,000 debt to each of his grandchildren, which is growing.

But I (and, I hope, many other seniors) would be willing to try to live within my means, sacrificing a little, in order that our children and grandchildren might enjoy some of the benefits we did, rather than struggle with the burden resulting from our irresponsible selfishness.

F. van Dommelen

Denton

White Males

In Wayne Hardin's April 12 article, Dr. Charles T. Lo Presto attempts to paint all white males as frustrated, mad individuals who are going off the deep end.

He bases this assumption on a movie, "Falling Down," in which Michael Douglas, facing some life failures, shoots up the town.

As David Letterman said about Dan Quayle's remarks about the Murphy Brown episode, "It's just a movie, Charles, it's make believe."

His attempt to psychoanalyze the entire white male population on the basis of a movie theme is laughable.

Dr. Larry Iacarino states that ". . . white males are starting to feel oppressed and will be held down the same way women and minorities were held down." Do you have any data to support that hypothesis?

Why do you single out white males? Are you aware of the "us killing us is genocide" theme being sung in the black community?

General Dynamics, IBM, Westinghouse and numerous airlines have laid off thousands of people from very high-paying jobs. Can you cite one instance where one of these workers behaved as Michael Douglas had in the movie?

Don't you guys think white males are capable of dealing with adversity? If you don't, try reading your history books.

Julius G. Angelucci

Severna Park

Human Cowardice

M. Catherine Kennedy writes about genetic engineering (April 5) that "it is wrong to experiment with a product that will affect a significant number of people (and animals and plants) when the results for good or ill cannot be predicted."

What if Wilbur and Orville Wright had foreseen that airplanes would become weapons of mass destruction in World War II?

What if Benjamin Franklin had known how many people would die of electrocution?

What if our early ancestors, inventing the wheel, had guessed how many people would crash in automobiles or be burned to death by fire?

Should these people all have given up their work in the name of kindness to humanity? Any technology will have good effects and ill effects.

More Americans die every year from automobile accidents than died in the Vietnam war. Yet we choose to continue driving these dangerous vehicles because we think the benefits outweigh the dangers.

Pharmaceuticals save a great many lives every year. The development of every pharmaceutical is a trial-and-error process. test new drugs on animals because we don't know what the results will be. Many animals die.

But if we halted the animal testing of drugs, or the development of new drugs, we would be condemning many of our own to dysfunction, pain and premature death.

The challenge of being human, in technology as in anything else, is to guide our actions with intelligence. To say we should give up because of the dangers is not an act of kindness, but of cowardice.

Philip Goetz

Ellicott City

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