March 09, 2009

Time for new age of modest means

In "Don't confuse high earners with wealthy" (Commentary, March 4), Ron Smith seeks to draw sympathy for the people who make $250,000 to $500,000 per year, whom he describes as merely "high earners" who, because of President Barack Obama's tax proposals, may never get to become "truly rich."

Well, excuse me, but that appeal leaves me cold. There is a point at which wealth satisfies all reasonable needs and wants and seeking more becomes mere greed.

How much can you spend on food before it becomes waste and gluttony? How big can your house be before it is just unused extra square footage? Who can explain spending more than $50,000 on a car without admitting it's mostly for style and for image?

How much clothing, jewelry, travel and entertainment can a person truly enjoy?

Mr. Smith gives us the tired old line that "it is those high earners who create many jobs in the private sector." But it isn't out of kindness or generosity that they create those jobs. It's to make money selling products mostly to middle-class buyers.

So boost the middle class and you will create jobs.

Our Declaration of Independence asserts the inalienable right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." It says nothing about pursuit of gaudy, flashy, ostentatious wealth.

For almost 30 years now, we have lived in the age of greed. It's high time we returned to our culture a sense of proportion, decency and humility.

Bill England, Baltimore

Quarter-million looks very cushy

Ron Smith tells us that the person making $250,000 per year is not rich ("Don't confuse high earners with wealthy," Commentary, March 4). I suppose that if one is earning that amount or more, that's how it would seem. But for someone trying to get by on, say, $15,000 to $20,000, a quarter-million dollars a year looks pretty cushy.

By his reckoning, the only person on Earth who would have to admit to being rich would be the richest person, since that person would have nobody else's wealth left to envy.

But trying to dictate the point at which one could be called "rich" is about as useful as trying to decide how high is "up."

And if only the most rich should be taxed, then I guess we'll have to leave paying for the country's expenses to Bill Gates, Warren E. Buffett and a handful of others who aren't pretending to be poor as millions manage to survive on a small fraction of their income.

Thad Paulhamus, Baltimore

Let Hamas pay cost to rebuild

I do not understand why we would spend one red cent to rebuild Gaza ("U.S. aid tilts toward W. Bank," March 2). The Palestinian people in Gaza voted for Hamas as their duly elected government. Let them live with the consequences of their actions.

Let Hamas rebuild the Gaza Strip; its actions caused the destruction.

James Christhilf, Glen Burnie

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