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Different Views On Taxes

September 3, 2012 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 90, Issue 36

Once again, Rudy Baum has to put his liberal slant on an issue, this time blaming conservatism for the recent East Coast storm in his editorial “Storm Thoughts” (C&EN, July 16, page 3). In his last paragraph, he characterizes the Bush-era tax cuts and the process of sequestration as “ill-conceived.”

Blaming tax cuts instead of out-of-control spending is a common strategy for liberals like Baum, despite the fact that tax cuts have had a stimulative effect on the economy every time they were enacted (the 1920s, 1960s, 1980s, and yes, even the much maligned Bush-era tax cuts of the early 2000s). Each of these resulted in economic growth and increased, not decreased, revenue to the Treasury. As for the sequestration, it would not have been necessary had the liberals in Congress been willing to rein in the out-of-control entitlement spending. I disagree that these are ill-conceived ideas, and Baum should stick to writing about science rather than advancing liberal political views.

Throughout the editorial, Baum suggests that we are woefully neglecting our infrastructure and that the federal government should spend more on infrastructure and on NIH, NSF, and NASA research. As for the infrastructure, the federal government should be the last resort, not the first one. Every time a bridge in Minnesota needs repair or replacing, Baum wants the federal government to step in rather than the local and state governments. Why should a hard-working family in Arizona have to pay more taxes to fund a bridge that they will never cross in their lifetime? I’m not saying that there is no role that the federal government should play in maintaining our infrastructure, but it is not always 100% the federal government’s responsibility.

The real problem is the unbridled growth of entitlement spending. We need to get that under control, then maybe we would be in a better position to debate infrastructure and research spending. Mr. Baum, we are not taxed too little as you assert, but rather we are spending too much. If you want to send more of your money to Washington, D.C., you are free to do so, but keep your hand out of my pocket.

By Mark P. Wagher
Aiken, S.C.

I cannot improve on Baum’s editorial about how our individualistic selfishness gets in the way of supporting our social and physical infrastructure. Amen!

By John E. Tanner Jr.
Idaho Falls, Idaho

I don’t usually write letters to the editor, but I am so worked up that I just couldn’t let Baum’s “ferocious storm” of comments go without some sort of rebuttal.

Baum asserts that the reason we don’t have the funds to care for our neglected infrastructure is that too many U.S. citizens are unwilling to contribute their fair share of taxes. And if by unwilling citizens, he is referring to the 46% of tax filers who don’t pay any federal income tax (many even get money back in the form of the Earned Income Tax Credit, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center in Washington, D.C.), then I say, fine. If, however, he is asserting that those who are already paying taxes are not paying enough, then I respectfully say, bollocks.

The solution is, and always has been, getting Americans back to work by decreasing government involvement and lowering taxes. Increasing the number of people paying into the system is the only historically proven way to sustainably increase tax revenues and achieve long-term growth. Ignoring infrastructure problems is just as much the result of weak-willed politicians kicking all our problems down the road while they divert the public’s attention away from the real problems using such trickery as stirring up class envy.

I am sure I am not alone when I say I joined ACS to be more informed on the progress of chemistry and chemical engineering, from academe to industry. Debating scientific issues is one thing, but I don’t want to read about the politicization of issues and subtle surrogate political arguments here, too. Clean up your act or I am going to cancel my membership.

By Duane P. Koszalka
Mound Valley, Kan.

Even though Baum is not a candidate for public office, it took courage to write, as he did in his July 16 editorial, “We’re unwilling to pay enough in taxes to maintain the infrastructure we and, more important, our children need to thrive. … The problem is that too many U.S. citizens are unwilling to contribute their fair share to supporting the social contract.”

How is it that so many in public life, including our top leaders and those whom we most admire, are unwilling or unable to utter this simple truth? We are the wealthiest country on Earth, but our infrastructure is decaying, and we are involved in wars that we are not paying for—leaving it to our grandchildren to clean up the mess.

I also appreciate Baum’s pointing out in previous editorials that “sustainable growth” is an oxymoron.

By Christopher K. Mathews
Corvallis, Ore.



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