Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

February 4, 2013

What’s he doing here? Besides, he’s wrong

Recently, Pat Brady rightly pointed out that some opinion writers get published far more than the once-a-month stated policy of the Times-News (“,” Jan. 11 Times-News).

I note that now we are getting George Michael’s opinion ever couple of weeks. Why? He’s not a local politician. He’s not syndicated. He’s not even a member of this community.

Can anyone get published multiple times a month if they send in a picture and one-line bio? I hope the Times-News will clarify.

As for Rev. Michael’s most recent article about the taxes poor Phil Mickelson pays, well, I’m not exactly in tears (“Mickelson makes an ace on taxes,” Feb. 1).

Last year Phil made far more in one month than I made in my entire teaching career. I’ll bet that’s true for every teacher, fireman, policeman, and EMT reading this paper.

And he made it playing a game — and from endorsements, which is really tough work.

I’m also betting anyone reading this paper would be more than willing to take Phil’s income and gladly pay his taxes. It’s not like Phil has to deny himself or his family anything they want.

As for the numbers Rev. Michael gives regarding who pays the most taxes, I think those numbers illustrate quite nicely how out of whack our society is.

For example, the top 1 percent own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent, and between 2009 and 2011, income at the top increased by 8.2 percent while it dropped 1.2 percent for the bottom 90 percent. Our wealth disparity is wider than in any other developed country.

I would echo Rev. Michael’s when he asked, “What does that say about our country?” And I would think Rev. Michael might find those numbers disturbing in terms of the number of citizens who are hurting. Seems to me Jesus said something about that in an array of contexts.

Rev. Michael also fails to acknowledge that taxes are what we contribute for the general good of all. They build our roads — and maintain them. They finance our fire and police departments. They help protect out food and our environment.

When poor Phil flies into a golf tournament, the air traffic control system, financed by taxes, makes his flight safe. One could go on and on.

Societies can’t exist without taxes, and someone making hundreds of millions should pay more than someone making a small fraction of that. A number of billionaires have said as much recently.

Of course, Rev. Michael slams Obamacare, which seems to be an especially sore spot with him. How fascinating that the possibility of helping so many, those bankrupted by health care costs, those who must choose between food and medicine, those who die because they can’t afford a doctor’s visit, seems anathema to Rev. Michael.

Didn’t Jesus suggest that the most holy thing a person can do is help the poor, the downtrodden, and the sick? But perhaps I misread.

Instead of fulminating against the taxes poor Phil has to pay, would it not be better to talk about the mammoth tax breaks given to major corporations in this country.

According to Reuters, between 2008 and 2010, companies such as GE, Boeing (both major defense contractors), Duke Energy, and DuPont — and 26 others — paid no taxes.

And we give billions away to big oil each year. Let’s start there. Perhaps if major corporations run by the wealthy oligarchs of this country were to pay their fair share, everyone would benefit.

That would require holding our elected representatives accountable to us, rather than permitting them to be the minions of special interests as they now are, but we could do that.

But perhaps that idea is too radical.

Craig Etchison

Fort Ashby, W.Va.

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