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home : opinion : columnists January 24, 2017

11/28/2012 12:07:00 PM
Publisher should show some respect
Dear Editor,

Publisher Forhan's 21 Nov. editorial proposed an interesting new policy path, but it was rather like running between the devil and the deep blue sea. Whether or not Publisher Forhan is serious about proposing a 59.4 percent tax bracket for people who are accustomed to paying 15 percent or less, practical politics says that this is likely impossible. That proposal implodes - which many would suspect is the purpose of making it.

We might be better able to discuss political solutions if Publisher Forhan's rhetoric wasn't so extreme. Extremism like his 59 percent-solution is not usually associated with mutual respect, which is an attribute that we need to go forward.

Publisher Forhan says that the majority are "willing to trade personal freedom for the promise of personal security." This extreme claim is also disrespectful, and not conducive to civil discourse. Until he can see that others believe that assured medical care, for instance, allows its beneficiaries more personal freedom by removing the threat of medical catastrophe induced bankruptcy and creating the circumstances for better health, his rhetoric betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of his fellow citizens. He need not adopt this policy belief, but he needs to understand and respect why others do so - and he does not.

Publisher Forhan characterizes the majority as "taking money from the producers to give to those who cannot or will not be responsible . . ." He apparently did not understand that this recession reminded the middle class how fragile their jobs are, and how easily hard-working people can be laid off and begin to lose their life's work through no mismanagement of their own, and how vital social safety nets are to maintain demand and stabilize the economy as a whole. (That continuing demand, by the way, is the thing that protects jobs.)

When Publisher Forhan says that "the majority . . . sees private enterprise and individual achievement as a problem . . ." he not only betrays the unreal landscape he lives in, but insults those who disagree with his policy choices by misrepresenting their views. Americans celebrate accomplishment, and are among the least jealous of nations (just look at our tax rates, current or proposed).

When Publisher Forhan says that the majority voted to be "regulated by an omniscient government", he mistakes the dominion of politics for the dominion of God. Only God is omniscient. Politics is the realm of human dialogue, maneuver, negotiation, and compromise for the very reason that human beings are fallible, and human projects and their goals are subject to constant revision.

By misrepresenting his opponents, Publisher Forhan also misrepresents, or misunderstands, some of the issues before us. For instance, saving Social Security is not some economy-devastating problem: it can be assured for seventy-plus years by removing the 'cap' on contributions for income over $110,000 - which gives us lots of time to adjust. For instance, events like the meningitis outbreak caused at the compounding pharmacy show the need for more responsive government regulation to safeguard our lives. For instance, looking at the tax rates of our most productive decades and our least productive decades reveals that lower income tax rates are not associated with more prosperity or more job creation.

Before we can solve real world problems, we all have to live in the same real world. And before we can work well with one another, we have to respect one another.

I agree with Publisher Forhan that "the American people have spoken. They are calling for compromise in Congress . . . . It's time to get to work . . ."

Nancy Miller


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