In "Public schools: the state church" (Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 11), Thomas C. Hunt and James C. Carper state that it is unfair for those people sending their children to private schools to have to pay taxes that are used for public education.
They make an excellent point, but they need to take their argument to its logical conclusion.
That is, no one who does not benefit directly from public schools should have to pay taxes supporting public education. That means those who have no children should be exempt, as should those parents who children have graduated or have otherwise left the school system. And let's carry the idea one step further: People who do have children in public schools should be taxed at a rate commensurate with the number of children they have enrolled.
In fact, if we excused those sending their children to private schools or home schooling from taxes supporting public education, the rest of us, including those of us with no children and those too poor to afford private schools or home schooling, would be forced to pay more taxes to take up the slack.
We would be, in effect, subsidizing schools that are, in the great majority, private for religious reasons, which would be a violation of the separation of church and state.
Mr. Hunt and Mr. Carper overlook the benefits to the whole society of public education. Even when it is struggling, it does ensure that everyone in America will grow up with at least some knowledge, training and discipline. It is precisely because public eduction benefits the entire society that the entire society is expected to pay for it.
No taxes for things we oppose? Sure!
Professors Thomas C. Hunt and James C. Carper promote the libertarian notion that parents who don't like the curriculum in the public schools "as a matter of conscience" and who provide alternative education for their children should not have to "pay twice" ("Public schools: the state church," Opinion
Commentary, Nov. 11).
The idea that we should not have to pay taxes for the activities of government that we oppose has interesting consequences. I oppose the war in Iraq "as a matter of conscience," and there are millions of other Americans who feel the same way.
Perhaps if the Hunt-Carper theory is adopted by the IRS, the troops will soon be home. I look forward to that particular checkoff box on this year's 1040 form.
George H. Kaplan
Priest paid the price for breaking rules
As evident by the letters supporting the Rev. Ray Martin ("Priest's punishment will hurt parishioners," Nov. 14), rules don't seem to make any difference to many Catholics in his parish, but feelings do.
Why should it be a surprise to anyone that the Catholic Church has rules? Most organizations have rules, and you usually can't pick and choose the rules you want to follow.
If Father Martin, as a priest in the Catholic Church, doesn't follow the rules, how can he expect his flock to follow the rules?
It is unfortunate that Father Martin's own actions are the reason he was removed. Let's pray for his repentance and faithful return to the Catholic Church and its teachings.
Mary R. Zaepfel
Church actions show skewed priorities
I cannot help but wonder what God would think a worst sin: to have a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church moving priests from one location to another instead of reporting them to the police for sexually abusing children, or to take a priest from a close-knit neighborhood where people of all faiths work together in harmony, because he allowed an Episcopal priest to read the Gospel.
One of the most impressive services I ever attended was the wedding of a friend where a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi officiated together. I was amazed at the similarity of their prayers. That was years ago, and yes, that marriage is alive and well.
Our wealthy nation can't afford pensions?
Susan Reimer's column calling on the soon-to-be-elderly to relinquish their Social Security benefits or wait another decade or two before retiring nicely does the work of Republican reactionaries ("Arguing against the rush to retire," Nov. 11): Blame retirees for coming fiscal problems. Extol individual sacrifice. Curse the baby boomers.
Ignore the Bush tax cuts during a time of vast military expenditures. Ignore the more than $2 trillion that will be wasted in an unnecessary war. Ignore the fact that the U.S., alone among wealthy nations, has no national health plan. Ignore enormous disparities in wealth flowing, in part, from assaults on the progressive income tax. Throw out the New Deal and march happily back to the 19th century's "survival of the fittest" mentality.
The richest country in the world can spend more money on defense than the rest of the world combined and watch CEOs retire on payouts larger than the GDP of small countries. But it can't afford pensions for its workers, according to Ms. Reimer.