The Baltimore Sun

Those poor rich people

Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for reminding us of the plight of the filthy rich - a tiny, too-often neglected minority - but I fear that he exaggerates their travails a bit ("The 'rich people curse' in politics," Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 14).

Certainly, the filthy rich suffer much, what with the occasional call to pay taxes, the difficulty of finding good help amid anti-immigrant fervor, and the insatiable gnawing of their own pitiless greed. And think of the ugly stereotypes we so callously bandy about, particularly during this holiday season with its hurtful "Scrooge" caricature. Personally, I shudder even to contemplate the anguish the filthy rich must endure.

In the truest holiday spirit, we, the middle class, should resolve to be less intolerant of our filthy rich cousins. Let us, as good patriotic Americans, open our hearts and our wallets to this misunderstood minority in the pursuit of mindless consumerism and empty bourgeois values.

This simple proverb gives me perspective on our filthy rich citizens: There, but for the tax code, go I. Mr. Goldberg is right. The filthy rich deserve all we can give them to compensate their pain.

Jim Salvucci


Instead of fair taxes, we get slot machines

Members of the General Assembly should be ashamed of themselves for what seems like trying to pull a fast one on Maryland's citizens in the special session.

Gov. Martin O'Malley proposed a modest progressive tax reform, but it was all but erased by the Senate and only partially restored by the House ("O'Malley promise on taxes erased," Nov. 13). Apparently, we will remain the wealthiest state in the union with one of the flattest tax structures in the U.S.

Instead, the General Assembly is choosing to "put to the people" the option of using slots to solve our budget crisis.

So the Assembly and those representatives from the richest of our counties, some of the wealthiest in the nation, get to avoid a marginal tax increase for the voters on whom their jobs depend. Instead, they'll wait a year, and when the voters have long since forgotten the General Assembly's unwillingness to share the financial burden of a just tax structure, voters will be asked to approve slots as our only way out of fiscal crisis. And sadly, we'll likely pass slots - and so we will once again ask the lower-income citizens, who disproportionately gamble, to bear the brunt of bailing us out of our fiscal crisis.

The wealthiest state in the union should be ashamed of itself.

Laurel Tiernay


Beware: Gambling spreads like a weed

I can certainly agree with one thing in the Nov. 13 editorial "Gambling's payoff": Those seeking these licenses will be looking for more slots and more locations in the years to come.

That means that if the public passes slots into law, we are likely not many years away from seeing slots parlors (or worse) floating on the Chesapeake Bay. How would it make Marylanders and visitors feel to see glowing slots signs under the Bay Bridge or floating off Annapolis?

I hope people are looking past the claims of fast cash. Coming from New Jersey, I can tell you that gambling is as pervasive as a weed, and it is very hard to limit once you let it in.

I'm voting no, because after this tax bill, all I can afford to do is look at the bay.

W. Kraus


Tax increases hurt small businesses

What is done is done, and we are just going to have to learn our lesson the hard way ("O'Malley promise on taxes erased," Nov. 13).

I agree that some taxes have to be raised to help balance the budget. However, the tax burden now is too much of a burden to bear, especially on small businesses. As it is, too many people are moving their businesses and doing their shopping out of the state, and even moving out themselves.

What we may need next election is a conservative Democrat as governor, one who would make the rich and the gas and oil companies pay their fair share, but in so doing would not drive businesses, and taxpayers, out of the state.

Judson M. Brandes


Fairness means equal treatment

The editorial board of The Sun has a very interesting concept of fairness, as expressed in its lead editorial of Nov. 16 ("What fairness requires"). It's only fair, the editorial claims, that those with higher incomes pay higher tax rates. I always thought that fairness implied the treating of all parties alike, justly and equitably.

Note to the editors: Socialism doesn't work. It stifles incentive and punishes the most productive members of society.

Michael Ries


Privacy shouldn't be a matter for debate

Let's make one thing clear: Privacy without anonymity doesn't exist. Donald Kerr, deputy director of national intelligence, would have American citizens believe otherwise ("Privacy a matter for debate, U.S. intelligence official says," Nov. 12).

His claim that individual privacy should now be left up to government and business removes the expectation of privacy as an American birthright and entitlement. In so doing, he not only defines privacy out of existence but also creates a radically different notion of individual identity, one that would better facilitate corporate interests at the expense of individual dignity.

Unfortunately, Mr. Kerr is no lone wolf on this issue, but is a spokesman for a government that appears increasingly bent on relegating fundamental constitutional protections moot in the name of national security.

John Bailey


For now, nuclear is best for health

Bonnie Raitt and Harvey Wasserman, authors of "No government subsidies for new nuclear plants" (Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 7), have a strange concept of public safety. While they are co-founders of Musicians United for Safe Energy, they ignore the safety issues of viable alternatives to meeting our increasing power demand.

While increasing efficiency is critical and utilizing renewable sources is important, the choice now is between coal - with its monstrous carbon emissions (global warming), noxious particulate and chemical emissions (respiratory health effects) and dumping of slag that leaches into groundwater - or nuclear power, with almost zero emissions and waste being safely stored on site for many years.

No industrial endeavor has been scrutinized more for its safety implications than nuclear power. That is why most local communities, such as those around the Calvert Cliffs plant, applaud its operation.

So let's continue to develop renewable sources, tell people in Ocean City that it is good to have wind turbines offshore, develop solar where it makes sense on a large scale, and conserve. But for the near term, let's use the form of energy that's in the best interest of public and global health: nuclear power.

Richard Vollmer


Report shows need for rethinking ADHD

I was pleased to note the article Wednesday that attention-deficit hyperactive disorder may now be regarded as a temporary condition ("ADHD might be temporary," Nov. 14).

It is certainly less temporary than the continuing cultural and scientific retardation that permits us to assign mythical disorders to ordinary maturational differences within the normal range of development.

Ignorance and superstition take fancy disguises in contemporary society, especially when we forget that among the most important things children do in school is grow up, mature and develop a sense of belonging, dignity and self-worth. This doesn't happen readily when we "disorder" them.

Robert Rinaldi


The writer is former assistant superintendent for exceptional children for Baltimore public schools.

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