To those who think that the “wealthy” are getting unfair breaks or, as one of your letter writers put it, a “free ride,” consider this: At the current “Bush tax cuts for the rich” rate, a person earning $250,000 a year through his or her own hard work, years of education, long hours, self-sacrifice and risk-taking is paying $87,500 in federal taxes.

That’s the big, much-whine-about break? That is a lot of tax money paid for a so-called “free ride.” Add in the top Social Security amount, the top Medicare amount, the top state and local tax rates and over half of that income goes to taxes.

Then consider if that so-called “rich” person has a kid or two decide to go to private college at upwards of $50,000 per year, with no needs-based financial aid coming his way, and then tell me that a $250,000-per-year earner can afford another $10,000 in federal taxes. Low-income kids go to those same schools for much less after financial aid.

It is a simple fact that the free ride is going to the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal taxes at all, and it is also a fact that the top 2 percent of taxpayers pay more total taxes than the bottom 96 percent put together right now. These are not tax cuts for the wealthy at the $250,000-per-year level.

These are a needed break for the hardest-working Americans who are already overburdened with the taxes they have to pay. They deserve to be able to keep more than half of what they earn by their own honest hard work and good planning.

The majority who pay little or nothing should stop their whining and thank those who are paying their freight.

Joseph Kenneally

Kennebunk

Maine’s commissioner of Administrative and Financial Services, Ellen Schneiter, was unnecessarily harsh in her admonition of Rep. Jonathan McKane in a recent “Another View” column.

A state employee in her position needs to listen to all sides. And in criticizing McKane for “partisan distortions,” she ends up defensively parroting partisan talking points.

McKane’s column, written in response to the paper’s Thanksgiving editorial that suggested Mainers be thankful for Gov. Baldacci’s “hard line on taxes,” told the other side of the story — Maine’s taxes, fees and spending have, in fact, increased dramatically over Baldacci’s tenure. Mainers and particularly small-business owners know this is true.

Coupled with our hospital and pension debts, our stifling regulations, and our skyrocketing health insurance and energy costs, this spending has left us, according to Forbes magazine, with the worst business environment in the country — dead last at No. 50. It has also left us, according to the Maine Heritage Policy Center, as the most welfare-dependent state.

Despite this dismal record, The Press Herald, however, said we were “positioned well for economic growth.” McKane was right to call them on it. Commissioner Schneiter should, of all people, understand the dire economic condition Maine is in.

If she doesn’t, we are in worse shape than I thought.

Earl W. Inman

Round Pond

Support for New START good for U.S. and allies

Maine’s pro-Israel community applauds Sen. Olympia Snowe’s support for ratification of the New START arms pact. This agreement is the centerpiece of the vital effort to rebuild the U.S.-Russian relationship, which has led to unprecedented cooperation with Moscow in building an international consensus against Iran’s nuclear program.

Stalling or rejecting the treaty would materially undermine this strengthening relationship, putting essential Russian support for multilateral pressure against Iran at grave risk. Moreover, curtailing nuclear stockpiles in the former Soviet Union greatly reduces the risk of fissile materials, weapons components or even complete warheads falling into the hands of extremists whose primary targets are Israel and its Western allies.

Just as this treaty is critical to combating the threat an Iranian nuclear weapon would pose to the United States and Israel, so is it essential to ensuring that terrorists who share Tehran’s anti-American and anti- Israel goals are prevented from acquiring the tools of destruction they most crave.

As Jews, Mainers and Americans, we thank Snowe for another bold stand in support of U.S. security and our allies’ security.

Rabbi Susan Bulba Carvutto Rabbi Hillel Katzir

J Street Rabbinic Cabinet

Winthrop

For the first century and three-quarters of our existence as a nation, we did not spend money to be prepared for war. When we were attacked or became involved, we had to prepare for the war while we fought it.

In World War II, for example, we became “the arsenal of democracy.” We were successful in every war.

Since then we have spent more and more money on military preparedness, until we are by far the most prepared war machine on Earth. We spend more than the next four nations, including China and Russia, combined. We are not very successful in our wars.

In Korea, it was proved that military force could not unite those two countries. Both North Korea and then Douglas MacArthur tried. Since the active war stopped, we have had more than 30,000 troops there, monitoring the truce, every day for 60 years. The American taxpayer has borne the burden, now in the billions.

In Vietnam, a country where we didn’t know the language, the customs or the culture, our military supremacy was not successful. Much damage was done and lives lost. American taxpayers paid.

Ridding Kuwait of invaders was successful, but did nothing for democracy or political freedom, of which there is little there. American taxpayers footed the bill.

Our invasions of two other Muslim countries, tragic for them and many Americans, are still in the balance. They have taken trillions of dollars out of taxpayers’ pockets, and that expense is one of the most significant reasons for our economic troubles.

Help persuade our senators that excessive military spending is not necessary and rarely in the common defense. We need to budget for productive purposes like education and infrastructure, not for tools of destruction. Start with New START.

Charles K. Brown

Bath