- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2000

Miranda ruling levels crooked playing field

The Supreme Court decision reaffirming the Miranda warnings was not disappointing to me ("Top court upholds Miranda warnings in arrest by police," June 27).

As a former New York City police officer, I remember from firsthand experience when the landmark case became law in the 1960s. When we had to make the transition from easy-access confessions to the spiel, "You have a right to remain silent," we thought it was just another ludicrous emanation from those muddle-headed disciples of liberal dogma.

Perhaps that continues to be the interpretation by many in law enforcement. I have developed a new philosophy concerning said law, however.

After witnessing O.J. Simpson's "dream team" in action and his subsequent acquittal; after observing John and Patsy Ramsey's coterie of attorneys keeping the police at bay in connection with the death of their daughter; after witnessing President Clinton's legal staff extricate him from one scandal after another, I think to stick with the Miranda ruling is the least we can do to help level the playing field for the middle and lower classes.

To do otherwise would expose the system as even more hypocritical than we already know it to be.


Flower Mound, Texas

Oil companies seeking gas prices as high as those in Europe

Jerry Taylor's defense of simple economic forces leaves out a few key pieces of evidence ("Topped off panic at the gas tank," Commentary, June 26). As a result of the two oil shortages during the Carter administration, prices at the pump rose from about 45 cents a gallon to more than 90 cents without reference to the cost per barrel of oil on the world market.

Even Congress, not the swiftest collection of minds in the country, noted that while a rise in the price of a barrel of oil was reflected the very next day at the pump, a drop in the barrel price was reflected, if at all, months later.

Common sense is not in abundant supply in Washington, but drivers all across America notice that at busy intersections, three different oil companies are always within a penny of each other. Mr. Taylor seems to think this is not by design, but is an accident of nature.

The oil companies have yearned for years to get the domestic price of oil up closer to European standards. They clearly have succeeded.

How long does Mr. Taylor expect us to wait for those pipelines to be repaired and the controversy over reformulated gasoline to be resolved? The pump price is where, for the moment, Big Oil wants it. It will recede in keeping with Big Oil's iron rule: Up a quarter, down a nickel.


Woodbridge, Va.

Ronald Reagan was the 'actor'; Gorbachev was the 'reactor'

In Tod Lindberg's June 26 Op-Ed column, "Reykjavik revisited," he makes two compelling points: "Mr. Gorbachev knew the Soviet Union could ill afford to continue its efforts on strategic defense," and President Reagan "understood the power of the United States was underestimated globally and the power of the Soviet Union overestimated."

Liberals do not get the above points. They praise Mikhail Gorbachev, as the father-promoter of glasnost and perestroika, for preparing the Soviet Union to become modern. Conversely, they mock Mr. Reagan as a simple actor, unequal to dealing with the complexities of realpolitik.

Well, Mr. Reagan was the true actor, i.e., he was proactive. He saw the Soviets were evil ("the evil empire") and weak (Mr. Lindberg's two points). Being evil, they had to be repelled; being weak, they could not respond to certain initiatives, specifically, an electronic free-for-all, in which we were stronger. So he acted by proposing the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), essentially an electronic card game in which we held all the aces.

Mr. Gorbachev knew the first of Mr. Lindberg's points. He was confronted in a card game by a guy with aces showing, probable aces in the hole and a willingness to call Mr. Gorbachev's bluff. Just as with glasnost/perestroika, Mr. Gorbachev was confronted by forces larger than he could handle. What to do when confronted by such forces? One bluffs, or one folds. In all cases, Mr. Gorbachev, the reactor, folded. He gave in to glasnost/ perestroika, unleashing forces already gathering and beyond his control. They ballooned and led in part to the downfall of the Soviets. (Another Lindberg article could deal with the pope, Afghanistan, AFL-CIO in Poland, Pershing missiles, etc., to all of which Mr. Gorbachev could only react). He folded in the face of SDI, in the sense that he did not undertake a huge effort to stop SDI (propaganda effort, yes; real effort, with real bucks and real scientists at home, no).

The punch line is that Mr. Reagan really was an actor, a proactive actor. He had better assets, and he used them better. Mr. Gorbachev was a reactor. He had worse assets, and he could not turn them into good assets. He folded. His side lost.



Readers debate the merits of federal and state death taxes

I may be a good conservative, but I have to disagree with Kenneth Smith's June 22 Op-Ed on "death taxes" titled, "Grave robbers." While it is true the government did not "earn" the money it receives through estate taxes, that's true about any tax. Second, any tax has to be assessed on the basis of: How fair is it? How easy is it to collect? What alternative taxes would be levied if this tax is not? What social effect does this tax have, and what would repeal mean?

First, while there are certainly cases where the child who has worked on the farm or in business loses as a result of the death tax, that's the fault of his father or mother for not paying him properly or not passing along part of the property while he lived. Surely if they've got enough sense to make big bucks, they can hire a lawyer to do some reasonable estate planning.

More important, despite the example cited in the column, it certainly doesn't apply to the third-generation wastrel whose only link to the family fortune is DNA. So, by and large, the tax is fair in that it taxes people who didn't earn the money in the first place.

Collection admittedly is difficult compared to other taxes, but not difficult enough to prohibit collection. The tax passes the collection standard.

If we didn't have the estate tax, we'd have to collect more income tax. Again, the estate tax is better.

Finally, and most important, without the estate tax, we'd get a hereditary aristocracy of wealth, which is what we fought the Revolution to avoid.

Sorry, your children, like mine, will have to earn their own livings and make their own way. Further, it will be good for them.




Good article on the death tax issue. I am a personal financial services representative, and I have been helping clients for almost 18 years with their life insurance and investment needs. I am also a conservative patriot who feels that we have strayed very far from the intent of the Founders as expressed in the Constitution.

With that as background, I wish the death tax a speedy demise. Realistically, however, I see President Clinton vetoing any legislative attempt to abolish it. With a George W. Bush presidency, I see legislation, but in a 10-to-15-year phaseout. This will require my clients to prepare for some government confiscation. As such, I recommend that business owners, farmers or other "rich" folks a) figure how to reduce the tax to the minimum and b) buy life insurance at pennies on the dollar to pay the levy. This is the present reality and I feel will be reality even at a reduced amount in years to come. Government cannot stand to let any tax revenues disappear.

Mr. Smith is on the correct side of this issue. Eventually, we may actually prevail.




Thank you for shedding light on the issue of a particularly disturbing form of government theft. Death taxes are a most digusting entity and must be eliminated forever. I find myself often wondering how we allowed the federal juggernaut to steal away the freedoms designed in by the Bill of Rights and Constitution. I just cannot believe that those who were driven by the phrase "no taxation without representation" would have envisioned the legalized pillage of assets as one's body cools from death. Who will now represent the interests of those who have passed from this earth?

It is none of the local, state or especially federal government's business to know what an individual's finances are. I just can't believe that we have "progressed" to the point of preventing someone from passing on the fruits of his success to one's children. "Give me freedom or give me death"? In America, one is becoming limited to the latter choice.


Zeeland, Mich.

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