Letter: Government Intrusion

To the Editor:

In my previous letter, in response to H. Jay Spiegel’s commentary on Del. Scott Surovell’s voting record during this year’s legislative session, I asked how Mr. Spiegel could “suggest that any of Del. Surovell’s positions rise to anywhere near the level of ‘government intrusion in our lives’ represented by the infamous ‘personhood’ and ‘trans-vaginal ultrasound’ bills.” He seems to have parsed out of my question an accusation that he supported the latter bill, an inference that I find puzzling. My intent was simply to point out a false equivalence: In any discussion of a legislative session that went flying off the rails into ultraconservative loony-land, it’s patently absurd to cite, as examples of Big Government overreach, Del. Surovell’s support for taxing plastic bags, raising the gas tax (who better to pay for roads than the people who drive on them?), and repealing tax credits for the coal industry. (Oh, that reminds me: Can someone explain why our scarce tax dollars are being used to boost the profits of one of the most despicable industries on Earth? If we stop subsidizing them, will they move their mines to another state, or to China?)

In response to my (and other writers’) support for reinstatement of an estate tax, Mr. Spiegel rolls out that tired old canard: “Estate taxes threaten the ability of families to pass family businesses on to their heirs.” Oddly enough, when challenged to cite actual examples of family businesses or farms being lost because of estate taxes, Grover Norquist’s acolytes do a lot of fussing and fuming, but produce little in the way of supporting facts (http://www.cbpp.org/files/estatetaxmyths.pdf). Surely no rational person would suggest a confiscatory estate tax, but I believe that there is something inherently wrong with a society that allows such a huge proportion of its wealth to percolate up to a minuscule number of increasing rich families. Am I advocating “redistribution of assets?” You betcha! That’s what governments do, have always done, and always will do. The question is not if, but how equitably.

Jeff Carver