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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about whether or not the wealthy should pay higher taxes than the middle class or the poor in America.

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Should the rich pay more taxes?

Regarding the Oct. 17 Opinion piece, "Obama, Joe the plumber, and the gospel of envy": Scott Johnson notes that the top 1 percent of income tax filers "paid nearly 40 percent of all income taxes" and "the bottom 50 percent paid just 3 percent."

But according to the same Tax Foundation statistics he cites, the top 1 percent of wealthy American taxpayers held over 22 percent of the total adjusted gross income (AGI), while the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers split only 12.5 percent of that income. In other words, the apparent disparity in the distribution of the tax burden is not mainly the product of an unfair tax code, but more a reflection of the ever-growing gap in the distribution of wealth. This apparent disparity will continue to grow as the income gap grows.

By proposing modest tax increases for a few, Sen. Barack Obama is not declaring draconian measures by which Joe the plumber's "wealth should be seized in the name of equity." The tax increase is not a matter of class envy, but a response to an economic crisis. All Americans will need to tighten their belts in one way or another. The financially fortunate among us should be asked to contribute from their excess.

Scott W. Johnson rightly condemns the collectivist notion that the wealth of the productive and successful be distributed among those who did not earn the money. The idea that our Constitution was written by a plutocratic elite is absurd. The Constitution was originally created to protect each citizen's individual right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and most important, the right to his or her own property. As Ayn Rand once said, "Without property rights, no other rights are possible." Mr. Johnson deserves a commendation for his efforts to protect these rights.


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