Luxury AutosMy Aug. 13 letter criticized the overshadowing...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 30, 1993

Luxury Autos

My Aug. 13 letter criticized the overshadowing of facts about the budget bill by anti-Clinton propaganda. I then fell victim to that very problem.

Misled by various summaries of the tax changes, I stated that the luxury tax on automobiles had been repealed. I was wrong.

In fact, luxury taxes enacted in 1990 were repealed except the tax on the price of autos beyond the first $30,000. (But the base is now indexed to inflation.)

The staff aide assigned to this subject for the House Ways and Means Committee told me that two members did call for repealing the auto tax.

However, one of them received data from the General Accounting Office that showed sales of luxury cars had not been generally inhibited by the tax and that 90 percent of the total luxury taxes collected came from autos.

The data were not put into the committee reports, since these members then dropped their call for repeal.

The aide also told me that there was no major public demand for repealing it, as was the case with the other luxury taxes. On the contrary, he said that the big three American auto companies had supported this tax in 1990 and were silent on it in 1993.

It may be that the tax caused some shift to American brands as generally less expensive than the foreign makes in the luxury category. If so, that is a good effect.

The lesson: Go to primary sources and don't rely on media summaries.

Ronald P. Bowers

Lutherville

Will on Art

It seems George Will would feel right at home alongside those who in previous decades scoffed at Virginia Woolf, the Cubists or Arnold Schoenberg.

Contemporary negative reviews of the Impressionist paintings or Rite of Spring" are always good for a chuckle, and a few years down the road Will's columns will probably seem similarly quaint.

Perhaps art works such as piles of bricks and free $10 bills are not giant steps forward in artistic merit, (I'm no Schoenberg fan either), but I think Will mistakes the fringes for the mainstream.

The art he deplores receives a small fraction of National Endowment for the Art's funding, but always get loads of free press.

It is essential for art, literature and music to encompass the experimental, the traditional and the absurd in order for them to remain viable.

"Piss Christ" may not be a great work of art, but it forces the viewer to take 10 seconds to think about what good art is, or maybe even take 20 seconds to create something better.

The edges inform the center, and the center is richer for it.

The Nazi government trimmed the fringes and took special care to define what art was good for its citizens; mostly misty scenes of carefree blondes. Experimental or "Modern" artists were publicly humiliated. Franklin Mint plate sets would have been a big hit.

Yet Will would like the NEA to define what sort of art is for the public good. How many people would scramble for a say in that definition? I know I would.

Yet even Will admits a consensus would be impossible, and this from a man who regularly lambastes the government for micro-management and ash-tray purchasing guidelines.

Or maybe governments should not fund art. Maybe Italy would be just as nice a place if the Medicis had spent their money more wisely on, say, space-based anti-missile systems.

John Irvine

Baltimore

Pull Out of Somalia

Reading where six U.S. soldiers were hurt in a Somali ambush makes my blood boil. Here is a fantastic example of the saying, "biting the hand that feeds you." It is my opinion that the United States should pull out of Somalia, and let them stew in their own juices.

The blood shed by one American soldier is not worth the outcome of the help offered to these people.

True, the innocent suffer. The pain of losing a son or daughter who has given time to help people in distress, however, is just as great if not greater when weighing the loss against the good being done.

From where I sit, nothing worthwhile is being accomplished. As soon as the "stabilizing" elements of the United Nations are gone, the misery will commence again, and only the powerful will come out on top, leaving those poor and weakened people to scrounge around for themselves again.

One cannot kill a snake by cutting off its tail. Aim for the head. It doesn't take a mental giant to realize that Mohamed Farah Aidid is responsible. Even to tag him with the title of warlord is giving him substance as a leader.

He is no better than the hyenas and jackals that roam the countryside, preying on his own kind who are too weak to hold up their heads. A concentrated and well-planned military attack on this thief and killer is in order.

Surround him and his followers and do away with the scourge that plagues these people. Then and only then can those who make up the United Nations forces move in and do the job they were sent to do, and that is feed these people and help them establish a worthwhile government that will serve the people and their country.

John F. Thomas

Catonsville

Distorted View

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