Organization not a champion of workers, fairness
The Aug. 15 Feedback column "Justice for all plaintiffs" is as amusing a title as the name of the group behind the article: Partnership for Commonsense Justice.
This group should be honestly called Partnership for Injustice to the Working Poor.
Wal-Mart employees are working poor, and to claim that they can just go hire a lawyer to sue this behemoth is laughable. Wal-Mart is well known for ruthless business practices, empowered by ruthless litigation practices and equally ruthless lobbying of Congress to procure favorable legislation.
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This is all well documented in the book Big Box Nation. The writer of this column and his group are not interested in fairness; they are interested in keeping and extending the enormous power they already have: the power of the almighty dollar and everything it can purchase, including extracting sweat and blood from a work force that is completely expendable.
Faith, science co-exist
Larry Thompson's Aug 15 Feedback column "Faith goes beyond science" makes precisely the same flawed argument as did the Los Angeles Times commentary he is replying to. He criticizes the column for trying to explain away faith through scientific argument, as he tries to explain away science through religious argument.
Many of us believe both arguments are wrong. Faith and science deal with entirely different matters and can and should be complementary, yet separate, fields.
Evolution has stood firm in the face of every observation and test and is accepted among scientists and most laypersons as factual. Faith in God and the soul is a matter of belief, firm in many of us, but not subject to the standards of scientific study and testing. Many scientists are men and women of faith, and many faith groups accept evolution with no trouble. Evolution and other scientific theories deal with "how" and "when." Religion deals with "who" and "why."
Let the scientists work with the physical and mental development of living beings and our universe; let the women and men of faith work with God, our beliefs and their reflection in our souls.
Drop the enmity and the futile attempt to co-opt each other's areas of study. They are separate in focus and in method, but need not be seen by the other side as a threat. Both can be positive aspects of our complex lives. It is a shame and a dangerous waste to attack either.
Use of wealth the issue
In response to Ben Kaufmann's Aug. 22 Feedback column, "Stop trying to make wealth a morality issue:" I am afraid he is a little paranoid about people thinking being rich is immoral. In fact, most people hope to be rich some day. Most people don't think that poor or sick people have a right to anyone else's time or property; that would be slavery or theft. We should never practice class warfare.
But, people who have been financially fortunate have a moral duty to help those in need: the elderly, the young, the sick, the injured and the poor. We hope that some day most people will have philosophical systems that will agree.
And those of us who have benefited most from our capitalistic system should not just tolerate but should enthusiastically want to help get our country out of debt and keep it that way. I call it being patriotic, loving my country and, with no apology to Sarah Palin, being a real American. If those with money don't support the troops, our legal systems or our health, safety and environmental organizations, who will? Poor people?
At the very least, I don't want to ever have to walk down the street with poor sick old ladies following me begging for alms as, unfortunately, still happens in some parts of the world. Social safety nets should be thought of as insurance — something even the richest of us could conceivably need some day — not socialism. Taxes are our support of a civil, orderly society.
Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the word, agrees.
Playing field not level
"For fiscal, moral reasons, the rich should pay more," was the headline on a recent column weighing cuts in social programs against tax increases for the wealthy.
A letter writer responded: "Fiscally, it makes sense that the rich should pay more. Morally, I'm not so sure." The writer seemed concerned that undeserving program recipients are making off with public money.
Morally speaking, should the nation renege on its Social Security and Medicare obligations? These programs are called entitlements because they have already been paid for by the recipients and their employers. A Herald-Leader editorial said Social Security provides 90 percent or more of the income for 22 percent of elderly couples and 43 percent of elderly singles. As for anti-poverty benefits, they are humanitarian relief that is limited to people who qualify for them.
No system is perfect. Possibly, there are some who collect unmerited money. But surely their effect is minimal compared with the impact of multinational corporations that pay absurdly low taxes or none at all.
To "treat people with equal respect and support equal opportunities for self-sufficiency," as the letter writer urges, doesn't mean equalizing taxes. It means exactly the opposite. The rich have more respect already than many of them deserve, and they enjoy all the opportunity in the world: opportunity to buy legislators, influence appointments to the Supreme Court, co-opt presidential elections, eliminate competition and exploit the rest of us. Some of them take it.
Equality requires a level playing field, or at least one that isn't turned on its head.