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Letters to the editor: 3/18/01

Sunday, March 18, 2001

Those in the middle class who favor this tax cut are foolish

The naivete of letter writers who support the Bush tax proposal continues to amaze me. They obviously believe the half-truths spewed by right-wing lobbyists and puppets such as Rush Limbaugh without applying common sense to the debate.

An "across-the-board" tax cut will most certainly be of the greatest benefit to the very fortunate few. The wealthiest of our society have access to tax breaks and shelters far different from those available to the middle class; such perks enable the rich to more easily hold on to and build upon their wealth.

Do the very wealthy generate jobs through their various ventures? Of course, but nowhere near the amount of jobs generated by small business owners. The vast majority of those people reside in the middle class, and our society would better prosper with a tax cut that is of the greatest benefit to them.

If our citizens are being overtaxed by the federal government, by all means the tax burden can and should be lessened for all. A sliding scale that favors the middle and lower classes, however, will not make paupers of the already wealthy; rather, it would provide more access to the "American dream" the wealthy currently enjoy.

All of those who favor the Bush tax proposal need to realize that the wealthy do not need your support in this matter. After all, if our existing tax rates are so unfair, how did the wealthy manage to prosper in the first place? Anyone in the middle class who supports the proposal is a dupe.


Not out of the ordinary

I read the March 11 front-page news story about the Bush White House rules ("Bush Running a Tight Ship") and came away thinking that I really must be missing something. Don't most businesses and organizations in the United States require staff to follow some sort of dress code, be nice to one another and show up on time?

Why do these wildly ordinary activities qualify as front-page news, while the story on how the butterfly ballot seems to have cost Gore some 6,600 votes -- well more than needed to win the presidential election -- was just a tiny story inside the paper ("Palm Beach Has More Gore Votes," March 11)?


An important article

Dennis B. Roddy's article on Holocaust denial ("A Change of Heart: Why Holocaust Deniers Turned on One of Their Own," March 4) was an all-too-rare and serious treatment of this important issue. What troubled me were the letters the Post-Gazette ran in response. Two letters suggested the story was not newsworthy and may have been an insult to those who perished in the Holocaust. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Throughout history, anti-Semitism has been fueled by libels and oddball conspiracy theories -- that Jews killed Christ or poisoned wells or secretly control the world. Holocaust denial is the newest of these lies. By twisting and distorting World War II history, it seeks to rehabilitate Nazism. And it is inherently political.

Skinheads in Germany who deny the Holocaust are not marching merely to change a few pages in their 20th-century history books. They want influence and further license to go after Jews and immigrants (for, their thinking goes, if the Holocaust were a lie, then the lessons of the Holocaust -- including how to treat minorities and the persecuted -- are based on a fraud).

Most troubling was the letter the PG printed from the Institute for Historical Review ("No Rejection of Provan," March 11), as if it were a respectable group. The IHR's printing arm, the Noontide Press, sells hard-core anti-Semitica such as the "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," Henry Ford's "The International Jew," David Duke's "My Awakening," William Pierce's "The Turner Diaries" and the Nation of Islam's "Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews," among many other such titles.

That the IHR takes issue with Roddy is evidence of the importance of his article.

New York, N.Y.

Editor's note: The writer is a specialist on anti-Semitism and extremism with the American Jewish Committee and author of "Holocaust Denial."

About auto crash studies

The automobile crash study detailed in the article "Studying Crash Victims Provides Better Insight Into Safety Redesign" (March 11) is not the only in-depth "real world" study operated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Few people are aware that another important crash research study is being conducted right here in Allegheny County. Since 1980 NHTSA's National Automotive Sampling System has collected data on thousands of randomly selected crashes. Annually, about 200 of these crashes are investigated locally by our Allegheny County team. The NASS also measures "every centimeter" of damaged vehicles and documents all injury data and crash scene information. This information is used to provide insight into what occurs during a crash.

With the valuable assistance provided by the people and agencies within the county, this program has been a success. Let's hope we will continue to do our part in reducing death and injury on our nation's roadways.

Team Leader
NASS Allegheny County Sampling Unit

A powerful message

I attended the Pittsburgh Penguins/New York Rangers game Feb. 23 with friends and family, including my sister who turned 21 recently. When some of my friends and my sister bought beer from the vendors in the stands, I was pleased to see that the beer sellers carded her. Once my attention was caught, I watched as the vendors carded everyone who looked young around us.

As program director for Pennsylvanians Against Underage Drinking, I want to publicly thank team owner Mario Lemieux and the arena vendors for the message that checking identification sends to young people and others attending Penguins' games: You serve alcohol only to those of legal age.

Young people need to know that it is not necessary to consume alcohol to enjoy hockey or any other sport or other activity. Unfortunately, some marketing by the alcohol industry links the pleasures in life to alcohol. Because of advertising that focuses on a youthful lifestyle of sex, sports and fun, too many kids are getting messages aimed at establishing a habit of drinking alcohol at a young age.

Underage drinking has become such a huge problem in this country that Americans are looking at alcohol promotion and consumption with more critical eyes. A 1997 survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found high levels of concern among Pennsylvanians about underage drinking (96 percent) as well as solid support for policy changes to address the link between alcohol advertising and youth alcohol consumption. For example, 59 percent of those surveyed said they favor a law that would ban the use of sports teams and athletes as symbols in advertising and promotion of alcoholic beverages.

Program Director
Pennsylvanians Against Underage Drinking

Bravo for Kosovo action

I have read many bad columns by Jack Kelly, but "The Balkan Morass" (March 11) was perhaps the worst.

Notwithstanding the after-war violence in Kosovo and the current insurgency along the Kosovo/Serbia/Macedonia borders, the Kosovo war of 1999 stands as a masterstroke of international affairs. Let us remember that in the Kosovo war, the NATO forces -- powered chiefly, though by no means exclusively, by the United States and Britain -- achieved their military and political objective without losing a man. Has that ever been done before?

NATO acted in Kosovo in furtherance of the human rights of a people, the ethnic Albanian Kosovars, who were suffering at the hands of Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslav forces. Massacres were occurring. People -- not all of whom would have been armed insurgents -- were being driven from their homes. Perchance hearing the ghosts of the Bosnian civil war (when the world stood back and observed the slaughter), NATO acted and succeeded. A precedent was set in world affairs.

Yes, there are thousands of U.S. troops stationed in Kosovo. But there are also thousands of British, French, German and Italian troops (to name only some) patrolling that sad little province. We are not alone in the venture.

The countries of the former Yugoslavia present a threat to world security. It may require years of international tending to bring a lasting peace to the region. Does that mean we should turn our backs to these sores in the Balkans? Do we want to live with the consequences of these conflicts spinning out of control? I don't think so.

North Side

Tobacco funds are not a viable solution for the prescription bind

State Rep. Mike Veon's March 12 letter proposing spending tobacco settlement funds for prescription aid to "seniors and others without drug coverage" is well intentioned ("Use Tobacco Settlement to Help Seniors With Prescription Drug Costs"). However, drug pricing and prescription benefits are problems of national proportion that demand a national solution. Congress and the president are working on such a solution, which, it appears, will cover almost all of Pennsylvania's Medicare beneficiaries.

The PACE program will need an influx of $69 million next year just to maintain benefits at the current level. Expanding the program will cost much more and create a major obligation for future resources. In addition, there's no mention by Mr. Veon of how much of the tobacco funds would be needed to help all those "others." There just isn't enough money to buy a way out of this issue because each year it will return with a higher price tag.

Using tobacco resources to expand home and community-based care will give all older adults and their families real options to meet their needs and position the commonwealth to meet the long-term care challenges of the future.

Executive Director
Southwestern Pennsylvania Area
Agency on Aging Inc.

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