December 31, 2012

Letters to the editor: Higher taxes for rich not 'theft'

William Vaughan of Chebeague Island states that the argument for higher taxes on higher incomes amounts to endorsing theft ("Argument for higher taxes amounts to endorsing theft," Dec. 24).

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As the fiscal-cliff deadline bears down, a letter writer takes issue with another who said arguing for raising taxes on only rich people amounts to endorsing theft.

I believe that Mr. Vaughan, possessor of a Ph.D., should have opened whatever dictionary he owns before commencing his writing. He uses "theft" and "stealing" interchangeably, which is fine, except for the fact that neither word has to do with the discussion of higher or lower taxes.

"Theft" definition: "To take or appropriate another's property without permission, dishonestly or unlawfully, in a secret or surreptitious manner." Does Mr. Vaughan actually believe that any form of graded taxation is tantamount to theft?

His letter then goes on to imply that if I were to lobby a representative to increase taxes, I could somehow therefore be guilty of "a form of theft" or even reduced to the level of Willie Sutton, the infamous bank robber of the past mid-century.

The only thing proved by Mr. Vaughan's letter is that a poorly defined, convoluted thought process leads eventually to specious conclusions.

Skip Clark


Medicare recipients should be subject to asset recovery

One way to cut the federal deficit is to place the same asset recovery rules for Medicare recipients as exist for low-income people who receive MaineCare benefits. Currently, any low-income person who owns a home loses that asset when he or she dies to reimburse the government for the cost of their health care.

Conveniently for people who qualify for Medicare but not MaineCare, this asset recovery rule does not apply to them. As a result, they get to pay subsidized Medicare premiums of less than $200 per month while often incurring medical expenses that run into the hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars.

It seems the free-marketers who like to tell poor people to get a job should have no problem agreeing to have their estates reduced at the time of their death by the amount that their actual medical expenses exceed the cost of their government-subsidized Medicare health insurance premiums.

Frank D'Alessandro


Schaible column on Gaza didn't have 'made-up' facts

I have two brief observations to make about Jules Szanton's attempt (Another View, "Gaza column misrepresented Israel's history with neighbors," Nov. 28) to rebut Robert Schaible's facts as presented in his Oct. 24 column (Maine Voices, "Israel's victim image belies its drive to control, abuse Palestinians").

First, that Schaible "made up" facts. I read Schaible's column. Only one claim stands to be corrected. Szanton is correct that after the Armistice of 1949, Gaza was actually controlled by Egypt until 1967. This is a simple oversight.

The rest of the information cited by Schaible is consistent with what I have found in my own research. Schaible, using actual Israeli scholars and Jewish leaders as references, makes clear that Israel has a record of telling lies to its own citizens and the world. This would also be my conclusion.

In Szanton's response, however, he mostly repeats Israel's standard claims about the conflict, e.g., "Israel -- unlike Hamas -- cares about minimizing Palestinian civilian casualties." If so, then why have so many Palestinian civilians been killed by Israeli attacks?

Israel's standard response to this question has been "Hamas uses their own people as human shields." The Palestinian civilians I have encountered, however, strongly deny this, and the Goldstone Report found no evidence of it.

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