Keelan wrong on dysfunction and poverty
Donald Keelan confuses issues of family dysfunction with issues of poverty (Permanency of Stratifacation, Feb. 27). His impoverished family in Pownal has a host of issues beyond income. Family dysfunction is not limited to families living in poverty. Nor are alcohol abuse, drug abuse, child abuse, mental illness or criminal behavior. People with more money, however, have more resources to address those issues.
Beyond Keelan's comparison is a larger issue. More and more working Americans barely make ends meet thanks to a changing economy. At the same time, the tools that all people may need to move ahead are under rigorous budget limits thanks to a tax structure that provides loopholes and low taxes for the wealthiest Americans while lower-income Americans pay a disproportionate portion of their income just to survive. To move ahead low- and moderate-income families need access to a high quality education, good health care, mental health services, and access to good food, among other things. These are harder for people of limited income to access.
When I was a kid the wealthiest Americans had a 90 percent tax rate for their top income. The Rockefellers, Fords, Mellons, Carnegies and many, many other very wealthy families did not sink into poverty because of those tax rates. Nor did they stop investing. The families behind Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Dell and WalMart are not likely to suffer if tax rates are more progressive and if Social Security contributions are not capped at their low levels.
— Charles R. Putney Bennington