Keith Vallencourt of Gardiner argues (“Letter to the editor: Wealth gap should not exist in U.S.,” Aug. 20) that a large disparity in wealth is akin to a “cancerous tumor” that “starves the body to feed itself” and so “should be dealt with accordingly.”

He mentions Larry Page ($40 billion), the Walton heirs and Koch brothers ($100 billion), and Bill Gates ($1 trillion, possibly).

Rather, he says that free-market theory implies that fair competition should keep wealth much more limited.

However, a free market is no more than voluntary exchanges between individuals, and fair competition involves competition based on price, quality and service. In other words, if someone invents a high-quality mousetrap, sells it at a price most can afford and provides good service, he or she could make a bundle.

And why not? The inventor provides the rest of us with something we need, and profits by doing so. Where is the cancerous tumor? Where is the starving body? What is there to deal with?

If someone has more money than I do, that doesn’t, in and of itself, make me worse off. In fact, if their money came from a good product that I purchased it may well make me better off. But the impulse to deal with such disparities in wealth “accordingly” will likely make all of us worse off in the end.

William Vaughan Jr.

Chebeague Island