Letters to the Editor for the July 30, 2012 weekly print issue: Look at effective tax rates, cap deductions, put an expiration date on tax breaks; With the US meritocracy now based on nepotism and cronyism, the '99 percent' had better wake up and demand better.
Let me take Mattea Kramer's excellent June 18 commentary, "Wipe out federal tax breaks – and the deficit," one step further.
For starters, listing and discussing tax rates obscures actual taxes paid – the effective tax rate after tax breaks are taken into account. It would be more realistic and informative to list what people actually pay.
Eliminating tax breaks could be political suicide, but Congress could place a five-year expiration date on them. These would then have to be rejustified completely after expiration, which could expose their (un)-intended exploitation.
Another way to make tax payments more fair would be to place a cap on anyone's total amount of tax deductions.
John J. Pitney Jr.'s June 25 commentary, "What Obama and Romney should be talking about," cites archconservative political scientist Charles Murray's tome "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010." Focusing on this book demonstrates that this nation needs a much broader discussion on America's class mobility problem.
The American ideal of merit in schooling and work has not gotten us to the expected meritocracy after several decades. What happened along the way is that people who got to the top took the natural steps to ensure they stay at the top. And not just their stay at the top, but that of their progeny and friends as well.
So what we are left with, in essence, is a meritocracy based on nepotism and cronyism. How rare is it to see failure at the top punished?
These are the leaders who brought us the mortgage crisis, Congress, and even the presidency. All of this happened while the American public slept, happily engrossed in their busy lives, willfully ignorant, and woefully inattentive. So when highly talented typical Americans do not get private tutors, special SAT training, and legacy admissions to the best universities, who should be blamed?
The "99 percent" had better wake up and demand better.