Eliminating the estate tax is best option The middle...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

June 24, 2002

Eliminating the estate tax is best option

The middle ground of reforming the estate tax instead of repealing it sounds ideal to many people ("Death and taxes," editorial, June 13). But reality is a bit different.

In fact, the costs of complying with the tax and the economic disincentives built into the tax cost the government 65 cents for each dollar collected. Even without considering these costs, estate taxes account for less than 2 percent of federal revenue.

And arguments that tax cuts caused the current budget deficit and that we should not cut taxes because of the deficit simply do not hold water. Big spenders in the Congress caused the return of budget deficits, not tax cuts.

Indeed, repealing the estate tax might help restore surpluses in the long run by shifting wealth to productive uses and reducing the tax code's complexity and uncertainty.

Although many people successfully plan around the estate tax, the need to employ fancy bookkeeping tactics to will the family business or farm to their children is repugnant to most of us. In that sense, the death tax is an un-American shell game -- and it should be repealed, not reformed.

Paul J. Gessing

Alexandria, Va.

The writer is a policy associate for the National Taxpayers Union.

It may seem popular to The Sun's editors to freely castigate the "rich" by offering them up as sacrificial lambs to the spending of state and federal governments. But I am proud to be a life long Republican and to be against the so-called "death tax."

For me, the issue is a moral one. What right does any government have to be first in line when someone dies with a substantial estate?

The Sun's feeble argument about the cost of repeal suggests the liberal notion that our money is not ours, but the government's -- and, therefore, a repeal of a tax would cost the government money.

Taxes on income, interest, capital gains, etc., should be sufficient to feed that insatiable dragon. But, alas, in The Sun's view, it must eat your children, too.

John F. Patterson

Baltimore

New schedule makes recycling a burden

The city's Department of Public Works says it sent "two to three copies of the wall calendars to each household" and hand-delivered the new recycling schedules to those who called a hot line ("Recycle rules cause gripes," June 17).

I must live in an alternative universe, then, because I got none in the mail, none in response to my call, and none when I called one of the 6th District City Council members for help. I did finally get the schedule off the Internet, but by then, I had three months of paper stored in my basement.

It's taken me four recycling days to catch up, because I can only make so many trips out front before I collapse.

The back alley and the old schedule were so much easier to deal with.

Bea Haskins

Baltimore

Need to store trash turns recyclers sour

I was willing to give the new recycling schedule a chance ("Recycle rules cause gripes," June 17). But what happens when the blue-bag recycling day falls on a holiday -- no pick-up -- is unacceptable.

Because of Memorial Day, residents in Zone 2 were forced to wait four weeks for a pick-up of cans and bottles. In October, Columbus Day will lead to a five-week wait.

Where am I supposed to store all the cans and bottles a family of five generates? I live in a city rowhouse, which isn't exactly long on storage space. So I must admit, I've begun tossing them in the garbage with everything else.

I'd like to meet the "many citizens who think this is an easier schedule." Maybe they've just given up on the whole thing, too.

Paula Gallagher

Baltimore

Read the calendar, and keep recycling

Like many people, I found the changes to the city recycling plan difficult at first.

Yet all residents were given schedules to go by and they are very easy to follow. So what's the problem?

Let's get over it, and continue to recycle.

C.D. Wilmer

Baltimore

Bowdlerized texts belong in shredder

The Sun's editorial "Ungilding the lily" (June 8) was excellent and struck a chord with me.

Censorship in the name of "political correctness" is bogus. It may be nice to be nice, but as my departed Dad said to me, "Son, call an ace an ace and a spade a spade."

I understand that the New York State Regents are about to put their politically correct texts in the shredder. Thank goodness.

Lawrence J. Simpson

Baltimore

Veteran announcers enliven airwaves

I was shocked and dismayed when I read Michael Olesker's column "Radio station takes human element off the air" (June 15). Shocked because I learned Ken Jackson is leaving WLG-AM and dismayed when I found out the reason.

As an older listener, WLG is the only station I listen to. And Mr. Jackson "opening his lunch box" and talking about his lovely wife and R.C. Allen on Saturdays telling his jokes and making his comments contribute as much as the fine music the station plays to my listening pleasure.

I hope the station will reconsider and let those of us who are going to "die off" enjoy life as long as possible.

Betty Heckman

Towson

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