Don't downplay income inequality


To the editor:

You know that an economic theory has made the transition to religion and articles of faith when its intellectual adherents must resort to lies to justify it.

In a Wednesday column, Thomas Sowell wrote that the income inequality we see in this country, which is by far the greatest in the first world -- exceeding that of China, India and even Russia, and on a par with Mexico -- is not what it appears.

As evidence of this, he puts forth this statement: "A University of Michigan study showed that most of the working people who were in the bottom 20 percent of income earners in 1975 were also in the top 40 percent at some point by 1991. Only 5 percent of those in the bottom quintile in 1975 were still there in 1991, while 29 percent of them were now in the top quintile."

As Mark Twain said, there are liars, damn liars and statistics.

Note that Mr. Sowell chose a span of years that excluded the past 20 years, which saw the greatest shift in wealth and income in this country in the past 80 years.

I do not know what the current numbers are, but given the basic concept that a family with no income or no health insurance is unlikely to be upwardly mobile, and the fact that more than half of houses with mortgages have negative equity, I think it highly unlikely that as many as 20 percent of those in the bottom fifth moved to the upper 40 percent over the past 15 years.

Perhaps your research staff can prove me wrong.

As a footnote, Mr. Sowell proudly points out that there is a difference between real humans and groups. Tell that to those who go to bed hungry, or are going to food kitchens in greater numbers than at any time in the past 70 years.

Doug Nusbaum

Las Vegas

Ultimate point

To the editor:

Most occupiers on Wall Street and in other cities are employed, not the homeless vagrants they are portrayed to be by certain news outlets. The majority are hardworking Americans who for the first time see a less-prosperous future for their children than their parents saw for them.

The young people protesting are the first generation that will have less than their parents did, and therefore they simply want a level playing field. The problem with that: The middle class, the working poor, the unemployed, the elderly, the poor and sick, the inadequately educated -- basically the 99 percent -- don't have lobbyists in Washington by the thousands, lining the pockets of politicians whose only agenda is getting more power and money.

The occupiers should establish an endgame with only two demands: campaign finance reform and congressional term limits. They should focus on these two demands to take the money out of politics and to end the continuous terms of congressional members re-elected time after time -- many of whom have succumbed to the lure of greed and corruption.

Contrary to what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, corporations are not people. It's government by the people and for the people but, sadly, it has increasingly become government by the corporations for the corporations.

Occupying space was a good start to make a point, but the endgame should culminate in actual reform -- and how to do that is where they need to focus.

Elaine Harman

Las Vegas

Walk this way

To the editor:

The recent accidents involving drivers and pedestrians are tragedies. I believe the city is partly responsible.

If the speed limit is 25 mph, the drivers are doing 45 mph. Set it at 35 mph, and they go 55 mph. It is time for the city to change speed limits.

Everyone is in a ridiculous hurry to get to their destination. It is the city's responsibility to slow everything down.

I think the speed on major streets should be 35 mph -- and it should be enforced by police.

Change the speed limits and slow down the cars. Plain and simple.

Gregory Inwood

Las Vegas

Drug war

To the editor

It's good that Mike Blasky was able to get his "Raid yields massive haul of synthetic drugs" article on the front page Wednesday. How millions of dollars worth of drugs being manufactured here in Las Vegas is of little consequence compared to the poker headlines is sad, but when these drugs send death and heartache all over the world, it's mind-boggling.

Particularly concerning is the last comment in the article. A police lieutenant -- God bless him for the difficult, often thankless job he does -- is quoted as saying that to battle these new synthetic drugs, "We must introduce new laws." With all due respect, we don't need new laws.

We need better parenting, better teaching, better mentoring, better preaching -- we need a better culture. We cannot expect the police and courts to battle the drug culture.

The only reason drugs are manufactured is because people buy them. Hello. We must find a way to turn the buyers/users around. We live in a society where parents are turning their 11-year-old kids onto drugs. We have children being used and held as sex slaves in our city. How do the people paying for them think they come about? Voluntarily? Absolutely not. Ninety-nine percent of them are drugged to the hilt before they hit the market.

Can't someone please stand up and say enough?

Can we quit snickering when Lindsay Lohan spends five minutes in jail for drunken driving? Can we quit with the "oh well, whatever" remarks when Paris Hilton is caught carting a couple of snorts around in her purse? Can we teach our kids, our society, our families to stop buying and using drugs? Please.

No, we don't need more laws. We need decency, personal responsibility, education and a culture that cares about ethics and life.

Monterey Brookman

Las Vegas

 

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