Friday, March 13, 2009

Dumb Letters: I'm Not Paying for That

I'm a bit behind on my Dumb Letters. Here's a missive to the NY Times from yesterday.

I have happily paid federal income taxes for 64 years. President Obama’s repeal of our current ban on embryonic stem cell research will force my tax money to be used for what I believe is murder.

As a Christian, and a Roman Catholic, I know that my beliefs are shared by a multitude of other Americans. We are appalled, angered and saddened to be powerless.

Elaine C. Murphy
Boynton Beach, Fla.

Ms. Murphy, I hope you're enjoying the feelings that I, a pacifist, have been feeling since the beginning of The Idiot's war in Iraq. I feel for you. Really, I do. But before I allow myself to commiserate too greatly, let me engage in a bit of Can You Top This?

About half of my tax dollars are currently going to the military. A fraction of a percent of your tax dollars -- so small you'll never miss it -- will be going to stem cell research. But don't worry. When you get Alzheimer's you won't remember any of it. Your soul will rest easy.

The money is being spent very efficiently though. The teeny tiny amount of money that's being spent on stem cell research is only going to "murder" those teeny tiny embryos that a) are barely visible to the naked eye and b) were going to be thrown out anyway.

On the other hand, the massive amount of money being spent on Iraq is going to murder hundreds of thousands of innocent sentient beings of all ages. Beings with histories, families and friends. As a Christian and Roman Catholic, how do you feel about that?

Cry me a river for your precious embryos.


On an entirely unrelated note, in yesterday's Washington Post, letter writer Walter Bardenwerper of Bethesda, MD says it all quite nicely.

Economics professor N. Gregory Mankiw of Harvard University derided President Obama's tax proposals as "one citizen" laying claim "to the wealth of his more productive neighbor".

What a generalization. Despite my own misgivings about the direction and timing of the president's tax plans, is it really so evident that a competent nurse is less "productive" than Citigroup's Charles Prince, who, it might be argued, helped to cripple that giant bank; that a dedicated police officer is less "productive" than former Merrill Lynch chief executive John Thain, whose $1.2 million expenditure of company money on renovating his office included $87,000 for a rug; and that an inspiring teacher is less "productive" than limousine liberal Tom Daschle, who failed to pay more than $100,000 in taxes?

I suspect that Mr. Mankiw would agree that it is our good fortune that not every citizen dedicates his or her productive energies principally to the pursuit of personal wealth. And while honest productivity does yield honest wealth in some professions, I doubt he would seriously contend that the accumulation of wealth necessarily denotes a more productive citizen.

Challenging the president's stated redistributionist intentions with a gross oversimplification conveys an arrogance reminiscent of the departed Bush administration and undermines a legitimate -- and necessary -- debate on future tax policy.

1 comment:

Mrs. Chili said...

I sometimes wonder whether people who play the "Christian" or "Catholic" card in this instance ever give a moment's consideration for the people who die as a result of the war machine. I also wonder, though not charitably, whether those deaths are somehow less worrisome because they happen to people far away and who are portrayed to not share "our core beliefs."