$119 mil­lion and what it can buy

Los Angeles Times - - Opinion -

Re “Zil­lion-dol­lar pol­i­tics,” Opin­ion, Sept. 18

Tim Rut­ten’s col­umn dis­cusses Meg Whitman spend­ing $119 mil­lion of her own money on her race for gover­nor. It points out that she is run­ning on the usual Repub­li­can plank of abol­ish­ing cap­i­tal gains taxes.

What this means, of course, is that her $119 mil­lion is ac­tu­ally an in­vest­ment. If she wins and cap­i­tal gains taxes are elim­i­nated, she will make back that money or more, in ef­fect let­ting the peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia who do pay taxes fi­nance her cam­paign.

Be­cause Whitman voted er­rat­i­cally, show­ing me that she re­ally isn’t in­ter­ested in the state’s prob­lems or pol­i­tics, I think her run for gover­nor is an ul­tra-cyn­i­cal ploy to fur­ther en­rich the su­per­rich.

Henry He­spen­heide

Her­mosa Beach

Con­trary to Rut­ten’s col­umn, Whitman is en­tirely cor­rect in want­ing to lay off 40,000 pub­lic em­ploy­ees and abol­ish cap­i­tal gains taxes in Cal­i­for­nia.

Cal­i­for­nia is in­sol­vent pre­cisely be­cause its bud­get and num­ber of em­ploy­ees have grown be­yond both the state’s pop­u­la­tion growth and tax rev­enues. Pri­vate busi­nesses have had to pare back their pay­rolls and bud­gets to sur­vive in this re­ces­sion.

It is Rut­ten’s high­er­tax/big­ger govern­ment “ideas” that are nei­ther novel nor in­de­pen­dent; they have been tried and have failed ev­ery­where.

Whitman’s pro­pos­als also may not be ei­ther novel or in­de­pen­dent, but they are pre­cisely what needs to be done.

Peter Rich

Los An­ge­les

As I read Rut­ten’s col­umn on the cur­rent gu­ber­na­to­rial race, I be­gan think­ing about the min­i­mal obli­ga­tions of a cit­i­zen in our democ­racy.

We no longer have a mil­i­tary draft, and the Peace Corps and Teach for Amer­ica seem to have all but dis­ap­peared from the pub­lic con­scious­ness. It seems that no one wants to pay taxes, so that the “dues” of a demo­cratic so­ci­ety have be­come a vir­tual pe­jo­ra­tive.

The obli­ga­tion to vote, there­fore, has be­come the last, least de­mand­ing and most ba­sic obli­ga­tion that re­mains. Yet we are now se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing a can­di­date who rarely ex­er­cised her most ba­sic and least in­tru­sive obli­ga­tion as a cit­i­zen — to vote.

The amount of money Whitman is spend­ing will not make her in­de­pen­dent of spe­cial in­ter­ests. Her lack of a record of vot­ing, how­ever, does tell us some­thing about her pri­mary spe­cial in­ter­est — that is, her­self.

Al­fred Sils

Wood­land Hills

We can’t pre­vent rich can­di­dates from buy­ing pub­lic of­fices, but we should at least level the play­ing field.

I read a won­der­ful idea some time ago that would sim­ply use tax funds to make sure that no mat­ter how much money a can­di­date spends on a cam­paign, all of the qual­i­fied op­po­nents re­ceive enough money to match it.

It seems to me that then what one has to say would be­come much more im­por­tant than how many times one says it. This would be a huge in­cen­tive for highly qual­i­fied peo­ple with the ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the de­sire to serve to think about run­ning for of­fice.

I think we all know there are peo­ple in this coun­try we would be proud to have rep­re­sent­ing us in of­fice but who have too much in­tegrity to do what’s re­quired to raise enough money to run for of­fice.

Bob Sud­daby


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