Regarding “GOP accuses Obama of class warfare,” published on Sept. 19: Before my husband and I had children and we were both working full time, I remember complaining to my Republican father-in-law about what a lot of income tax we owed that year.

He very quietly pointed out to me that instead of complaining, I should be happy to pay the tax, as that meant that we had done well for ourselves that year.

This quiet observation from a man who spent his entire life working very hard as a self-employed business owner resonated with me at the time he said it, and it speaks even louder during these tough economic times.

Asking each family to pay a percentage of their income as they are able is not “class warfare.” It is fair. Period.

Cathy Bennett

Scarborough

Bill Underwood of Springvale pointed out in a letter on Sept. 14 (“What politics create prosperity?”) that Maine consists of, on average, less-than-wealthy taxpayers with an appetite for a middle-class standard of living that would be more typical in a state that is well-endowed with a strong tax base provided by a robust business sector.

He is alarmed that many of us have an anti-business attitude that he worries will discourage business development here, and lead to a weaker and weaker economy. And, as he implies, small businesses cannot support that standard by themselves.

We need big business, as we had in Maine’s once-bustling industrial past. But we don’t need big business in the form of a national bookstore chain that puts all of our native bookstores out of business, then goes belly-up itself. Or big-box stores that put Main Street out of business by selling imported goods and offering only low-wage jobs.

What we do need are large-scale manufacturing jobs, but over several decades, we have allowed them to go overseas, taking our former source of wealth with them. We have a much bigger and more complicated problem that dwarfs Mr. Underwood’s concern. It’s related to the huge lobbying industry and its corporate clients who have expropriated the electorate’s influence on Congress; it has to do with our top-heavy, ever-more corporatized and politicized professional class, demanding remuneration we cannot afford.

Our nation is being destroyed by the international trade, tax and health care policies of our own country.

Steve Small

Portland

I see in your editorial Tuesday (“Raising taxes is not real tax reform”), you stated that President Obama has had a string of bad ideas. That is the first I’ve heard him accused of this. Where is your proof? I will continue to believe that Bush’s tax cuts were the worst idea.

And why are small businesses placed in the category of the super-wealthy?

Nancy Willard

Bryant Pond

Are the rich job creators? On the contrary, as more and more of the nation’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of Fortune 500 corporations and the top 1 percent of taxpayers, it is clear that they are not using this wealth to create jobs.

If they were, we would not be facing a lingering recession and 9.1 percent unemployment.

Truth is, the wealthy (corporations and individuals) have been content for several years now to simply sit on extraordinary levels of cash reserves.

An April 2010 ABC News piece by Rich Blake and Dalia Fahmy, “Hoarding, Not Hiring: Corporations Stockpile Mountain of Cash,” noted that: “Despite widespread unemployment U.S. corporations, reluctant to expand in an uncertain economy, are sitting on $1.6 trillion in cash reserves, a record amount “

In the ensuing 18 months, this figure has grown to nearly $2 trillion. But the title of a recent New Jersey newspaper piece says it all: “Companies Mum After Call To Use Cash Reserves To Create Jobs.”

The piece noted a meeting called by President Obama in early 2011 that had summoned a cross section of corporate executives to the White House. The agenda: How to get U.S. companies to use their nearly $2 trillion in cash to create jobs.

There was polite talk, but no corporate commitments, and no politically acceptable legislative initiatives to put this hoarded cash to work emerged.

In short the wealthy, with a handful of exceptions, are content to remain wealthy — they are not creating jobs; calling them “job creators” is a myth, a sham.

So too is the Republican mantra, that tax expenditures and/or tax cuts will create jobs. Such expenditures/cuts will do little more than increase the vast sums that the very rich have already tucked under the mattress.

Orlando E. Delogu

emeritus professor of law

Portland

Appealing to greed or offering “free money” to a broad swath of the American public and taking that money out of the underfunded Social Security program is the most pathetic strategy our elected officials could pursue.

If Social Security is in such financial straits, how does it make any sense to extend the payroll tax cuts and take some $380 billion away from its funding base? Opinion polls of active employees may support such a greedy grab, but they are getting paid from $1,500 to $3,000 in lower taxes to opine in that fashion. It’s similar to asking the fox if he would like a key to the chicken house.

If this reduction in payroll deductions is really such a good idea, then why not reduce deductions by 4 percent, instead of just 2 percent and “spur” the economy even more?

This type of reduction might make sense if at the same time we lower a person’s future retirement benefits based on a calculator that lowers future benefits based on how much each person puts into the fund.

Each person can take this 2 percent unfunded “gift” and buy an individual IRA with it, or spend it as they wish. But their future Social Security benefit would be lowered up to 25 percent eventually (though their IRA will more than make up the difference).

In fact, this approach could be the first step in reducing Social Security deductions in our paychecks to zero! People can take those 6-percent-of-salary savings plus the equal employer match and invest in their own choices of spending or retirement funding.

But let’s not ask the fox if he wants more free chickens each week. Let’s allow him though the choice of building and stocking his own chicken house with his own money – not someone elses.

Waldo Hayes

Cape Elizabeth