Kenneth M. Ralph [letter, Sept. 4] believes the top 5 percent of American earners do not pay their fair share of taxes. The facts tell a different story.
In 2010, according to the Internal Revenue Service, the top 5 percent earned 35 percent of the country's adjusted gross income and paid 59 percent of federal income taxes.
What if I proclaimed that Mr. Ralph should pay higher taxes because I think he can afford it? Wouldn't he be correct to dismiss my opinion, since I know nothing about him or his financial situation? Just because people make good money doesn't mean they have money to burn. What if they own a small business that's flat-lining in this stagnant economy? What if they have a child with special needs?
Mr. Ralph ends with the standard liberal class warfare rhetoric: "If you want to protect the wealthy from paying more taxes, vote Republican. If you think they can take care of themselves, vote Democratic."
I counter: If you think you can spend your own money more wisely than the government can, vote Republican. If you think the government can spend your money more wisely than you can, vote Democrat.
'Rush' to judgment
Joe Hainthaler's [Sept. 4] letter misinterpreted my Aug. 28 letter. He claims I repeated Rush Limbaugh's favorite canard that wealthy Americans pay far more than their fair share of taxes. I never stated that.
The point of my letter was to make the public aware of the proportion of federal income taxes paid by high-income taxpayers and the fact that almost half of Americans pay no federal income tax at all.
At no time did I state wealthy Americans are getting ripped off. Furthermore, I am insulted that anyone would think I am a Rush Limbaugh fan.
East Hempfield Township
Feeding off working class
In reference to Mr. Poole's and Mr. Jewett's letters to the editor [Sept. 4]: How much did the greedy, wealthy leeches pay in blood for the privilege of getting wealthy?
The wealthy leeches paid very little to nothing. They fed off the blood of the working class. The middle class and working poor paid by the barrelsful.
Richard Bletz Jr.
Down with PLAs
This next legislative session will be the best shot our state lawmakers have at helping our Commonwealth get back on track and produce real savings, allowing Pennsylvania to join other states in controlling runaway spending.
Unfortunately, our politics makes officials up for re-election a little too sensitive about their jobs to do much work on controversial subjects. I am talking about dealing with labor issues and old, wasteful programs that have driven us near financial collapse and restrict us from recovery.
Issues include the use of project labor agreements on any state-funded projects. These discriminatory agreements add unnecessary costs to projects because they block the majority of qualified contractors. Earlier this year, Lancaster County became the first county to unburden itself from the restraints of PLAs.
It's time to tell your legislators to get busy on a real American idea and to allow all qualified Pennsylvania workers the opportunity to work on all state-funded projects.
Benchmark Construction Co.
King on war
No surprise that Charles Krauthammer, who forever ignores the devastation wrought by the current wars he steadfastly champions, would author a tribute piece to Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy [Aug. 28] without any emphasis on the man's powerful and prophetic words against the Vietnam War and modern war in general.
The same holds true for The Washington Post's "The Notion of a Dream" article in the same section.
No matter one's political persuasions, King's words concerning both war and poverty are an important part of his life and undeserving of their deliberate exorcism by our nation's propaganda apparatus. As King stated in his 1967 Riverside Church speech, "Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war."
Fortunately, one can simply search the Internet for a complete picture of the late civil rights leader.
What a wonderful letter by Donald L. Noll [Sept. 4, "Misguided Ron Paul"]. Some people write that kind of parody amazingly well. The only worry is that there are those who will take him seriously and say, "What a good idea. We need to have a government that is that compassionate."
Likely your own Gil Smart will have thoughts like that. It might be good if you hired Mr. Noll to write a column in counterpoint to Mr. Smart's nonsense.
Robert B. MacHatton
Tell kids the truth
The Sept. 4 Mini Page attempted to present the tragedy of 9/11 to children. The words "Muslim," "Islamic" and even "terrorists" were never used in identifying the 19 people who attacked the U.S. with four planes. Are we so politically correct that we can't speak the truth anymore?
The page went on to say, "Even adults don't really understand why they did this horrible act." Really? Anybody knows it was because they hate America and were trained to kill their enemies - that is, anyone who is not Muslim.
As a teacher for 16 years, I know you can teach truth to children, especially children who are exposed to all they are exposed to today.
An earlier Mini Page that highlighted Ramadan and Islamic faith mistakenly stated: "They (Muslims) believe earlier teachers, including Abraham, Moses and Jesus, came before Muhammad and shared many of the same teachings with their followers." To speak of similarity is to distort the truth.
Jesus' Sermon on the Mount demonstrates this: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).
Slot machines here?
Gil Smart's excellent article (Sept. 4) describing the convention center performance contains some data that must be in error.
That 11,000 event days were reported June 2010 to June 2011 with a total attendance of 272,000? That computes to just 25 people per event day. I suspect the number should have been 1,100, which translates to 250 total attendees per event day.
The financial shortfall is scary for what it portends. When the Valley Forge Convention Center wanted to shore up its economics in 2009, state regulators approved 500 slot machines. I hope that will not become the solution for Lancaster.
A convention center official was quoted in [an April 2009] Sunday News article saying: "There will be no slot machines in this integrated facility." It is in print - county natives trust that it also is cast in iron!
But what if the center goes the way of Pennsylvania Academy of Music (bankruptcy)? Will new owners honor the promises of current officials?
Just as with Valley Forge, Penn National and the Poconos, the local facility and the county tourist trade equate to a financial boon for a slots parlor or full casino.
The writer is correct. It was 1,100 event days.
Not-so-dark Dark Ages
Modern scholarship seldom employs the term Dark Ages (used by columnist Kathleen Parker, Aug. 28, to signify ignorance). The Middle Ages saw major developments in agriculture, commerce, law, education, music and philosophy. Natural philosophy (science) as taught in Bologna, Paris and Oxford universities employed logic, observation and thought experiments, building on Aristotelian physics, astronomy, psychology and biology.
Uses of reason, observation and scientific practices, without the technological equipment we know today, preceded the scientific revolution, offering groundwork for what was to come. Jean Buridan's (1300-1358) theories on motion, inertia and vacuums gave us three laws close to those of Copernicus, Galileo and Newton.
The remarkable achievements that followed resulted from Newton's ingenious application of mathematics to physics, which allowed greater precision in measurement. Successes seldom rise in isolation in any field.
Concepts and applications of reason associated with the 17th and 18th centuries had multiple predecessors in the Middle Ages.
This is a thank you to the two women and their son and daughter who helped us find our car at Park City on Sept. 2. Dad said, "It's the pits to get old." Mom said, "No, you've got to go out the same door you went in." Thank you.
I applaud Dan Nauman's letter regarding teachers' unions [Sept. 4]. As a proud, nonunion, public-school teacher, I will be the first one to say the teachers' unions are unnecessary and are more worried about power and politics than students and education.
I would love to know and meet the teachers out there who are dropping their memberships. I applaud them as well.
The sad thing is the district I am in and the contract we have (which I had no say in) allows for what is called "fair share," which in essence is a type of forced taxation without representation. (I refer to it as "unfair share.") Nonunion teachers have money ($405.86 last year) taken out of their paychecks against their wishes, because a ridiculous law allows unions and school boards to do this.
I wonder if school board members would allow the company they work for to just steal money out of their paycheck because they choose not to join a union?
A week for truckers
Sept. 11-17 is designated as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. The start coincides with the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on our country. That coverage will overshadow the celebration of the nation's truckers, but in some ways that's appropriate because of the humble nature of the job.
The trucking industry and the drivers who support it are the backbone of the economy. Our nation was very resilient after the attacks, and much of that was because our industry continued to operate despite the uncertainty following Sept. 11.
It wouldn't be hard to trace the patriotic spirit of the country to those who dedicate their careers to transporting our commerce across this great country. If you are one of the nation's 3.5 million truckers, we thank you.
Central Pennsylvania Transportation
Smaller is better?
Pennsylvania has more than 500 public school districts and thousands of local municipalities. For those who think merging their operating services into regional or countywide systems would eliminate duplication and lead to substantial cost savings and efficiency gains, I recommend Conor Dougherty's article "When Civic Mergers Don't Save Money," on Page A6 of the Aug. 29 Wall Street Journal.
Dougherty reports that "such mergers rarely save money, and in many cases they end up raising costs." Causative factors include fewer part-time employees, higher pension and health care benefits, leveling-up pay, more labor protections and increased bureaucracy.
Besides deflating arguments for government-service consolidation, these results suggest deconsolidations, such as school districts breaking themselves into multiple charter or independent schools, can be attractive options from both qualitative and cost standpoints.
Stop bashing pastor
I am getting a little tired of people bashing Steve Cornell's column in the Sunday paper. He has a very good Christian column. It makes a lot of sense. He knows where he is going when he dies. What about you, Laurin Hinkle [letter, Sept. 4]? Or did you not think about that?
Enough is enough.