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Forum, May 20: Fat cats should pay fair share


Sunday, May 19, 2019
Fat cats should pay fair share

The inequality that exists between the have-a-lots and the rest of us has some spectacular details, which reveal why Social Security trust funds may run out.

What’s it like, for example, to get paychecks at the level of some corporate CEOs? The New York Times publishes an annual CEO pay list, topped by a compensation package of $108 million for calendar year 2017 for the CEO of Broadcom, a semiconductor manufacturer, which breaks down to over $2 million per week. In addition to that whopper, Weight Watcher’s CEO’s salary in 2017 was almost 6,000 times the pay rate of her company’s median employee. And a third unsung CEO (TripAdvisor) got a “raise” that year of 3,400%. He must have been so underpaid the previous year.

Perhaps more appalling: My pay, and probably yours, is taxed for Social Security at 12.4%, but big earners pay only a teeny-tiny rate. For instance, the guy at the very bottom of the Times’ Top 200, the CEO of DowDuPont, paid only a fraction of 1% for his contribution to Social Security, so he contributed zero to the Social Security trust fund on over $13 million of his earnings.

FICA is the clearest example I know of a regressive tax: It is backward that rich individuals contribute to Social Security at a much lower rate than we do. This is because the Social Security portion of FICA has a salary cap of $132,900 in 2019, above which no taxes are levied.

This could be changed. If high earners were to pay the same rate of Social Security tax as we do, the looming deficit in this program would simply evaporate. The arithmetic I did a couple of years ago on the Times’ Top 200 list suggested that just these 200 fattest cats paying their fair share of FICA would bring the Social Security trust fund close to sustainability.

This seems reason enough to vote Republicans out of their seats, so legislation for the public good could pass, and make FICA taxes progressive instead of regressive.

MICHAEL WHITMAN

Lyme

Cafeteria worker was wronged

The disdainful termination of Bonnie Kimball is part of a larger whole (“Mascoma lunchroom firing causes uproar,” May 14). The “terminate-at-will” law is a direct conflict with “Live Free or Die.” The fact that every employee can be terminated at will means that every employee in New Hampshire is living under daily bondage. They are not being permitted to “live free.”

There’s another national trend that reinforces the above hypocrisy: “You’re fired!” Gee, where did that come from?

Please note that cafeteria workers, people that deliver fuel oil, office workers, cashiers, etc., are all people who are not available to function in politics because they must go to work every day. The people who have the freedom, the liberty, to run for office (the bosses) are the ones most represented in the state Legislature. Hence, we have this very disdainful law on the books.

Enter Cafe Services. Wouldn’t you think, with all the school contracts they have entered into, that they would have developed a more pro-active and civilized method of dealing with the recurring problem of hungry kids who forgot to get their lunch money? Wouldn’t it seem that they, in concert with the school and the employees, would have an agreement as to how to deal with this to the benefit of everyone involved?

And now ... more disdain, this time from the School Board. Vice chairman Timothy Josephson’s perspective is, “The person is a Cafe Services employee.” No concern evident that there may be a better way to handle this. No concern about what’s best for the school and the community. Wouldn’t you think that the representatives of the school would want a mutually beneficial solution?

Someone in authority should step up. If not the vice chairman, how about the chairman, the principal, the administrator of Cafe Services? Somebody please do the right thing here. God bless Bonnie.

BILL FIELDING

Wilder

Here are some proactive steps can we take on gun safety

The tragic school shooting at Colorado’s STEM School Highlands Ranch raises the question: Are we willing to tolerate “more of the same” when it comes to gun violence in our society?

I worry that we have become inured to these incidents, showing remorse over the tragedy, but little willingness to deal with deeper issues of gun violence. Even after the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, we failed to devise a system of gun control. Richard Hofstadter asked the question: “How far must things go? Fifty years later, we continue to experience horrifying incidents with no end in sight.

How should we respond to the repeated pattern of mass shootings?

For one, we must limit the accessibility of guns. Our gun culture allows access to guns of all sorts and, with the Second Amendment, legitimizes gun ownership as a right. The United States has the largest arsenal of personal firearms, the fewest regulations and one of the highest homicide rates in the world. Enumerating many societal dangers, the National Rifle Association argues that more guns make us safer. This position is untenable. For another, we can focus on the shooter’s mental illness, as many responses to the recent Colorado shooting recommend. However, with millions fitting the profile of a potential assailant, predicting a future shooter is improbable. Finally, we can shore up school safety. But this is a very defensive strategy.

What proactive steps can we take? First, publicize the Supreme Court’s affirmation of state bans on assault-style weapons. Second, confront the NRA and its role in heightening the climate of fear. More guns do not make the country safer. Third, challenge the politics of guns. A majority of Americans now support banning AR-15s and similar weapons, tightening gun laws and background checks and preventing those with a mental illness from owning guns. Demand that legislators follow our lead.

BOB SCOBIE

West Lebanon

Pointing to polyester allergy as possible source of itch

The Washington Post column by Marlene Cimons (“For some people, an irritating itch can’t be scratched,” May 13) missed another possible cause of itching: polyester. I learned this when my young child wouldn’t wear pajamas with buttons. A friend told me he was probably allergic to polyester, and that buttons were often made of polyester.

I prevent an itch in the middle of my back like the one Marlene experiences by wearing bras that don’t have a soft polyester pad under the hook. My itch was worse — similar to a mild case of shingles I once had. Bra manufacturers, please take note: That soft polyester pad can be torturous.

ALICE MCDONALD

Hartford

Windsor post office food drive delivers 1,250 pounds

The staff of the Windsor post office would like to give a big thumbs-up and thank-you for the 1,250 pounds of food collected during our “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive on May 11. Job well done!

RON ROSKO

Windsor

Goodbye, Columbus. Now we must end St. Patrick’s Day

The recent decision in Vermont to rename Columbus Day and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day set me thinking. Not only are general principles involved, but we must also consider particular events. While acknowledging the courage and navigational skill of Christopher Columbus, few will defend his conduct toward Native Americans. Nor are such acts defensible. On this basis, the next target for abolition must be St. Patrick’s Day.

St. Patrick’s greatness as a Christian missionary is undoubted. But, according to well-attested legend, he cursed and cast into the sea the snakes who were disturbing his religious devotions. That is why there are no snakes in Ireland. To us living in a more ecologically sensitive age, this was a most deplorable action. Some of us actually like snakes, and eliminating them only serves to give mice and rats free rein.

Besides, St. Patrick was in reality British not Irish, and green beer is a disgusting perversion of an otherwise excellent beverage. For all these reasons, on behalf of all reptile enthusiasts, I demand the abolition of St. Patrick’s Day and its replacement in 2020 by Indigenous Species Day.

VIJAY M. THADANI

Norwich