`Death tax' hurts middle class as it erodes core valuesI...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 20, 1999

`Death tax' hurts middle class as it erodes core values

I was surprised to read The Sun's editorial "Death tax's exaggerated bite" (Aug. 2). It cited a seriously flawed study by Charles Davenport and Jay A. Soled as justification for opposing the elimination of the federal estate or "death" tax.

But that study relied chiefly on questionable tax and economic data supplied by the federal government -- information obtained from an administration that has opposed repeal of the estate tax -- and dismissed other studies and opponents of the federal estate tax.

It failed to refute any of the cogent arguments against the death tax made by such liberals as Edward McCaffery and conservatives such as Milton Friedman and the Heritage Foundation and by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.

The truly rich don't pay the death tax. It is the middle class that is engulfed in its tentacles.

As someone who has testified for the repeal of the federal estate tax and on behalf of repeal of the Maryland state inheritance tax (in support of the excellent bill introduced by Del. Obie Patterson of Prince George's County), I think it's time that we eliminate these unfair and unproductive taxes.

The revenues involved may be small (in light of the total federal or state budget), but the tax is costly to values we should be promoting: entrepreneurship, passing family businesses from generation to generation, savings and preserving farms and small businesses.

The Davenport-Soled study does nothing to change the basic case for repeal of the death tax.

James L. Martin, Arlington Va.

The writer is president of the 60 Plus Association, a senior citizens advocacy group that seeks repeal of the federal and state estate and inheritance taxes.

The Sun's Aug. 13 editorial cartoon by Tom Toles was a perfect illustration of how liberals turn logic on its head in looking at the tax code.

Their assumption is that an individual's wealth is first and foremost the property of our all-knowing government, to be re-allocated among the populace according to some "equitable" formula.

What is overlooked here is that to create an estate, one must first generate income (which is taxed), then hold on to a portion of it -- in the form of savings or investments (income from which is again taxed); then, finally keep it intact and pass it on to heirs or other beneficiaries.

I fail to comprehend how doing this is harmful to others.

Al DiCenso, Annapolis

Faithful are indebted to defenders of prayer

It is a sad day in our community when Baltimore County tries to stop a handful of people to court from having the chutzpah to pray on the Sabbath ("Services at home allowed," Aug. 6). Sadder still is that the complaint was instigated by another Jew.

Seth and Lisa Pachino opened their home so that Orthodox Jews in Owings Mills could meet their religious obligations. The price of their graciousness was thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend their right to pray.

The last time I checked, freedom of speech and freedom against religious intolerance were rights in this country -- not privileges.

Shame on Baltimore County for pursuing this complaint and on the neighbor and his lawyer who made the complaint.

All people with religious convictions owe Seth and Lisa Pachino a debt of gratitude. They defended our religious freedom and won. They did so quietly and graciously.

The Baltimore community needs more people willing to do the same.

Edward K. Leventhal, Owings Mills

Kansas educators need to evolve

So the Kansas State Board of Education has decided the theory of evolution should be eliminated from the state's curriculum because such a theory cannot be proven in a laboratory ("Critics talk of abolishing Kansas board of education," Aug. 14).

I can't wait to see the creationists prove their theory, in a lab or anywhere else.

Robert Donadio Jr., Baltimore

Contrary to popular opinion, scientists in Kansas do not maintain that the earth is flat.

But they do proclaim that it is the center of the universe.

John G. Barry, Baltimore

Kansas shows courage in reviving moral roots

The Sun's editorial "Devolution in Kansas" (Aug. 14) represents liberal, anti-religion propagandizing at its best. To suggest that the Kansas state school board's decision to discourage the teaching of evolution censors education, harms adult opportunities, prevents families from moving to the state and impedes economic development is, at the least, incredible.

Is it not censorship to preclude teaching creationism? Is evolutionary theory the sole premise for the study of science?

Kansas' decision is a victory for religious people, but those who believe the biblical account of creation do not necessarily reject science. Why then is creationism not an acceptable curriculum?

Perhaps more parents would move to Maryland if its leaders and institutions showed some of Kansas' courage to return us to our moral roots.

David Vannoy , Ellicott City

A Catholic believer in God and evolution

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