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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 22, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Reducing income inequality is in everyone’s interest; the argument for progressive taxes

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Michael Osbun / Op Art

Reducing inequality is in everyone’s interest

David Brooks’ column “The inequality problem and its roots” [Opinion, Jan. 18] got it wrong.

First, his focus on the top 5 percent and the “bottom end” misses the middle class. Second, although he is correct that the causes of inequality are complex, he is wrong to suggest that there are “two different constellations of problems” that are not related.

Inequality — and the policies that have widened the gap between the wealthy, the middle class and the poor — affect low- and middle-income households’ access to education (from primary to college level), health and healthy lifestyles, affordable housing, safe transportation and roads. A simple example (and there are many others) is that of favorable tax breaks to high-income individuals and corporations that benefit profits, savings and investments for the wealthy, yet reduce the tax base for public investment in basic infrastructure, commerce, schools, military, national and state parks, which benefit the middle class and poor.

Moreover, reducing inequality is in everyone’s interest (not just a safety net for the poor), as it builds future generations that are socially mobile, better-educated, healthier and more secure to contribute to a productive U.S. economy.

Carol Levin, Seattle

Regressive taxes the source for income disparity

It’s just math, David Brooks.

I would have thought that someone as astute as David Brooks would not have missed the main reason for our country’s increasing income disparity.

Just as the positive feedbacks at work as a snowball gathers snow as it rolls downhill, making money leads to the ability to make even more through investments and the acquiring of more and more businesses (the big fish eating the small fish effect). For example, the now ending recession presented opportunities for people with available money to buy stock, businesses and property at bargain prices — something that most folks did not have the extra cash to do.

So, income disparity will naturally increase in a free-market economy. The best way to stop this natural process is to use a progressive income tax to keep the difference between the higher and lower salaries from growing.

Unfortunately, the conservative con artists have convinced most people that it is in their interests to keep tax rates more regressive. Increased income disparity has been the result.

John D. Locatelli, Maple Valley

Comments | More in Income inequality | Topics: Carol Levin, David Brooks, economy

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