Joseph Kenneally (Letters to the Editor, Dec. 18) is the tax whiner, not those who aren’t making enough to pay them. Using distortions, Kenneally fails to persuade that people making $250,000 are taxed too much.

First distortion: Someone making $250,000 pays $87,000 (35 percent) in federal taxes. Thirty-five percent is the marginal tax rate (tax on the next earned dollar), not the effective tax rate (tax paid divided by total income). With personal exemptions, deductions (property tax, mortgage interest, etc.) and the 15 percent tax rate on capital gains, his unfairly treated taxpayer is realistically paying about $42,000, a 17 percent effective rate.

Second distortion: The sample taxpayer pays $50,000 college tuition with yearly income. Doing so would qualify him as a financial idiot. College tuition is an expected future financial liability, so the taxpayer should have saved a portion of his income for 18-plus years. Is Kenneally suggesting the hard-working taxpayer didn’t save anything for his children’s education, so the tax code should forgive his lack of foresight?

Third distortion: Forty-seven percent of the population are freeloaders, paying no federal tax. Kenneally forgets the “end of welfare as we know it” reform during the Clinton administration added provisions to the tax code (earned income credit) under the theory that low-wage tax subsidies were preferable to welfare checks for nonworkers, and ultimately less expensive. Perhaps Kenneally wants to return to “welfare as we used to know it,” or is he suggesting that no assistance should be given to those making less than a living wage?

I welcome a vigorous debate about tax policies and rates, but if you must make your case based on consistent distortions, you probably aren’t holding the strongest hand at the table.

Mike Love

Portland

Joseph Kenneally of Kennebunk complains that the poor who do not pay income taxes should bow down to him for bitterly shouldering responsibilities they avoid.

Apart from the fact that many who do not pay taxes are the wealthy who have figured out tax dodges, one does not sense that Kenneally would volunteer, in order to avoid the burden he feels, to change places with those he scorns.

Sending his kids to elite colleges is a choice, not an inalienable right. If the children of low-income parents are lucky enough to get such opportunities, it is legitimate to recognize that their parents have much less than Kenneally wants us to understand he has.

In his arrogance and self-pity, he, not the less fortunate, is the whiner.

Eric E. Wright

Brunswick

Excessive salaries for CEOs can take shine off charities

I’m a private citizen who was pleased to learn that nearly $325,000 had been donated by state workers to the Maine State Employees Combined Charitable Appeal and MaineShare, as reported recently in The Portland Press Herald. However, after logging on to www.maine.gov/msecca, the website established to raise the funds, several questions were raised about some of the charities.

For instance, at least two CEOs make fairly substantial salaries — Zainab Salbi of Women for Women International is paid $215,000 annually, and Renee Acosta of Global Impact is paid $378,000 — quite a lot of money in both cases, money that perhaps should have gone to something other than administrative costs. A more egregious example is the Tiger Woods Foundation, which has assets of more than $45 million and whose CEO is paid nearly $450,000 a year.

This information, supplied by Charity Navigator and Guidestar.com, was the result of just a few minutes of online research. I began to wonder if some of the other charities pay their CEOs at a similar rate, which is far more than most Mainers earn. Of course, all the organizations under the MaineShare/Maine State Employees Combined Charitable Appeal umbrella are vetted, but not on the basis of excessive CEO pay — information that most potential donors would like to know in order to make sure that a larger share of their donation is directed to the purpose for which it is intended.

I, for one, support organizations whose staff is primarily or totally volunteer, and whose chief officer is paid only a modest wage. Most animal shelters — and the Maine Federation of Humane Societies is one of MaineShare’s members — fall into that category, and in these tough fiscal times, their need for financial assistance is great. However, when a charity’s CEO is paid nearly $450,000, I don’t feel it needs any more help from me.

Don Loprieno

Bristol

Election over, it’s time for noble achievements

The past electoral process was a challenge to everyone’s patience and fortitude. What a relief to have all of that vindictiveness behind us and to move on to better things.

So now that we have the voters’ pick on a new governor, this could be a time for optimism about the future of Maine. Our newly elected governor, Paul LePage, qualifies as someone who came up through the ranks and knows firsthand the plight of the downtrodden. To his enormous credit, he took his future in his own hands and did something positive with it.

He is straightforward and seems to appreciate the hard work ethic. If he can marry the strength of that experience with a new and inspired appreciation of the invaluableness of Maine’s natural resources, the start of a great story about our governor-elect is ready to begin.

In the history of Maine governors, few have reached the level of distinction that Gov. Percival Baxter achieved. He didn’t follow the banner of populism but stood bravely apart from all others and gave us single-handedly the enduring monument of Baxter State Park.

The incoming governor might just be that remarkable person who sees the economic advantages in sustainable jobs and incomes generated by a North Woods National Park. The infusion of new economic enterprises in Maine does not have to be made with the sacrifice of our North Woods lakes and wilderness to adverse land use and development, mountain ridge lines racked with questionable and environmentally damaging wind power operations, and the risky excesses of deep-water ocean oil drilling.

We all wish both Paul LePage and our natural resources the very best during his term of office. May this be a time to replace worries with noble achievements.

John Oser

Parsonsfield