- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2000

The very richest shouldn't be soaked, either

Ben Wattenberg's column, "Soak only the very richest" (Commentary, July 20), asks "whether America wants to encourage the hereditary transfer of wealth over many generations, creating, in effect, a permanent aristocracy." With all due respect to Mr. Wattenberg, I would suggest that it doesn't matter what America thinks.

Estate money has been accumulated by these wealthy individuals in a manner we as a society don't find illegal and, more importantly, immoral. As such, the money is theirs and theirs only. As a necessary side effect of an orderly society, the government may be allowed to remove an allocated percentage of that money to ensure their rights like everybody else (such as income tax providing for police enforcement). But to tax money differently, such as with the estate tax, is unfair.

Mr. Wattenberg wants to discourage money from going forward to the children of millionaires, yet a direct effect of some of the recent versions of the estate tax has been the exact opposite.

These laws established a lower tax rate for estates passed on to direct descendants or close relatives and a higher tax rate for everybody else. This doesn't seem to help.

Mr. Wattenberg says he doesn't envy those born rich. He says that they may be too easily robbed of their fortune through poor management. What a perfect counterargument. Indeed, it is hard to establish a dynasty of wealth for that very reason.

This applies to economical and political dynasties: It only takes one bad heir for the entire fortune to be flushed down the drain. The bottom line is that it is impossible to maintain any "monopoly" unless that monopoly is run efficiently.

The most prominent monopoly of our time was the Soviet government, which monopolized all the industries of a large country, including the government. And what happened? Because the methods of production, management and so forth were poor, it fell.

Estate taxes are not very moral. And there isn't a considerable benefit to the country in maintaining it, either.

YURIY KLEYNER

Montgomery Village

Time to take care of federal tax deficits

Jack Kemp put forth his case that projected federal budget surpluses should be applied to reducing future federal income tax payments ("Awash in a surplus," Commentary, July 14). Mr. Kemp credits the Reagan presidency's reduced taxes as the main stimulus for taking the country from President Carter's "stagflation" to the unprecedented economic boom of the 1990s and now.

Mr. Kemp may be right, but he neglects to cite as well that this stimulus produced federal tax deficits that dwarfed those produced during Mr. Carter's term of office (plus all previous terms). Of course, Mr. Kemp's campaign criticisms of the Carter deficits greatly helped Ronald Reagan become president in 1980 but Mr. Reagan increased those annual deficits by 400 percent and more soon thereafter. Unfortunately, Mr. Kemp seems uninterested in repaying these debts.

It is important to reiterate that Mr. Reagan, President George Bush, Mr. Kemp and the primary leadership of the 1980s very well may have led us to today's good times. But Mr. Kemp's opinion of the Clinton-Gore administration's fiscal policy apparently is reflected in the cartoon accompanying the column. The cartoon states that the Clinton-Gore administration proposes to continue overcharging taxpayers for their market basket of government services. If this is so, it necessarily must follow that the Reagan-Bush-derived debt permitted the American taxpayer to be, until recently, very much undercharged for that market basket.

I encourage Mr. Kemp to exercise his leadership again and demand that the next administration treat American taxpayers fairly and balance their tax ledger.

KENNETH M. MATZKIN

Arlington

How to intimidate corporate sponsors, hurt charities

Regarding the article "Pager company latest to bow to gay pressure on 'Dr. Laura' " (July 18), I am concerned that such companies as Geico, Skytel Communications Inc. and Toys R Us, which bow to pressure from the homosexual community, do not realize they are creating a climate in the business community in which some of our country's most needy charities are forced to suffer.

For instance, poor, inner-city children who rely on corporate sponsors for Boy Scouts are deprived of that opportunity because of lack of support. As Heather Mac Donald wrote in the Wall Street Journal in the column "Boy Scout Battle Pits Gay Activists vs. Minority Kids" (July 6), Scouts in the suburbs are largely self-supportive through family members and cooperative neighborhoods. But poor, inner-city children, who often don't have those structures, rely heavily on corporate donations to support their troops.

As one corporate sponsor stated: "Every day, somebody in the corporate community says: 'I can't take the heat anymore. I'll take a pass.' " And the result is another poor inner-city child left without the help that otherwise would be available. As Ms. Mac Donald writes, "Defunding the Scouts would be a tragic loss for inner-city youth and for the country. Gay pride that comes at the expense of poor children is bought at too high a price."

Whether you support the homosexual community or not, it is barbaric and heartless to stage a political battle where the most vulnerable and helpless in our society are forced to bear the burden. My personal response to corporations that take this stand can only be to pull my financial support from them and take my business elsewhere.

JEFF OVALL

Lorton

A 'common-sense, humane' solution to housing chimps

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation has its facts and calculations all wrong in its wildly inaccurate analysis of H.R. 3514 and S. 2725, the Chimpanzee Health Improvement Maintenance Act, two bills to establish sanctuaries for chimpanzees no longer used in medical research ("Collegiate chimps," Inside the Beltway, July 18).

This legislation not only alleviates the suffering of chimps in laboratories, but also alleviates the burden on taxpayers. Under the current program in which chimps are warehoused in expensive federally funded facilities taxpayers are now footing the bill. The government is spending $20 to $30 per day per animal to house these chimpanzees in laboratory cages. Housing them in sanctuaries will cost $8 to $15 per day. The legislation caps total aggregate federal funding of the sanctuary system at $30 million over the course of future years. Since the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is now spending more than $7 million each year to house the chimps, the legislation assures that in just a few years, taxpayers will begin saving money. Moreover, the bill requires private-sector matching dollars to supplement the government's share.

This is a common-sense, humane solution to a problem created by the federal government. NIH overbred chimpanzees, wrongly believing them to be a useful model for AIDS research. Why shouldn't taxpayers and the chimpanzees benefit from a lower-cost, more natural form of housing that allows for scientists to continue gathering useful data but recognizes that the animals are no longer wanted for invasive research? We thank the bills' authors, Rep. James C. Greenwood, Sen. Robert C. Smith and Sen. Richard J. Durbin, for standing against government waste and for humane treatment.

WAYNE PACELLE

Senior vice president

Communications and Government Affairs

Humane Society of the United States

Washington

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