Letters to the editor (04/28/12)

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There is a danger in demonizing success
Editor:
I would encourage people to make an effort to find the March 21 edition of the Valencia County News-Bulletin.
The opinion section contains a very instructive letter written by Terry Mehaffey. There is a faction in the United States, large and growing I believe, which is made up of people who perceive personal achievement and success as a manifestation of evil which must be punished.
Read Mr. Mehaffey’s letter and give consideration to what he is saying. He may not be a spokesman for that faction, but in that letter, Mr. Mehaffey builds his case on the very same ground.
“Dana Davis lives in … a world wherein fairness and just rewards exist.”
Well, guilty, I do live in a world where fairness and just rewards exist.  But, they are not all that exists — there is also greed, corruption, decay and envy. I do believe that those who earn have a right to keep what they earn and dispose of that property in whatever way they choose.
This is a fundamental principle of freedom (many have read Locke, but clearly some do not understand).  Not every person who is wealthy enough to be subject to the estate tax is a crook.
However, according to Mr. Mehaffey’s use of the word “justice” in his discourse on why the estate tax is justice, he seeks to establish the same foundation as the faction which abhors success.
To that faction only the corrupt succeed, why else is the estate tax an instrument of “justice?” Justice, rightly defined, is that people receive what is merited.
This means that those who attained wealth illegally should not retain it, but it also demands that those who earned their wealth should not be punished.
As established in the Constitution, we have always recognized that in order to preserve the rights of the innocent, sometimes the guilty are not punished. Mr. Roosevelt’s personal opinions notwithstanding. (Our founders recognized the truth that punishing the innocent was much more of a danger than allowing some guilty to prosper).
Claiming that the estate tax exacts “justice” on the wealthy either does violence to the rights of the innocent or requires that all the wealthy are guilty. Which is it Mr. Mehaffey?
Are you saying that I “let the cat out of the bag” — holding out the possibility that I might become wealthy — as some sort of an admission of guilt? Or, are just aspirations of wealth sufficient to condemn?
This is the conflict we now face. Do we succumb to the proposition that real world achievement and success are to be discouraged, either because real success is impossible as a result of corruption of the system or because one only achieves success through illicit means?
Those who do achieve are to be demonized — e.g. they are “thieves” or commit “fraud”  or are “financial cheats/liars.”
The rich, according to this statist faction, “don’t pay their fair share,” or according to Mr. Mehaffey, limit their tax payment though the use of “loopholes” or “tax havens,” apparently paying only the amount of taxes they find to be acceptable rather than the amount others think appropriate … of course this “appropriate” amount is nebulous and potentially limited only by total earnings.
Mr. Mehaffey chastises me for presuming to “think” and “speak” for him. I did no such thing.
In his letter of Feb. 1, he made the statement that supporting the United States government was “worth every penny.”
I merely pointed out that the meaning of this statement was that it would be acceptable for the United States government, in recognition of its munificence, to confiscate everything.
Now it is possible that he did not mean what he said. Perhaps “every penny” was hyperbole, or perhaps he meant “every penny” up to some point — maybe up to the point of however much it is that Mr. Mehaffey contributes
And he was really saying “the U.S. government is worth every penny that I am personally willing to pay.” Wouldn’t that make Mr. Mehaffey guilty of the same offence being charged by the statists against the rich?
Saying that one has no interest in what might be in the pockets of the dead, but then advocating for (and possibly voting for, electing and supporting) those who actually do the dirty work of picking those pockets  a metaphor for the estate tax lest some misunderstand, smacks of intellectual dishonesty.
As to whether noting this is “disgusting, ill tempered/mannered” perhaps Mr. Mehaffey is not commenting on the truth of the claim, only to the use of the descriptor of his “aged, infirmed hands.” (I did not use the word “informed” this was an editorial revision over which I had no say.)
Sorry, no offence intended — I was just using the same words Mr. Mehaffey used in his Feb. 1 letter to describe himself.
There is a danger in demonizing success. There is a danger in denying the value of achievement.
Even if there were some cabal of the wealthy 1 percent, they cannot do as much damage as the divisiveness festered by those who see other’s property as a path to their own ease.
As Alexis de Tocqueville (another philosopher who will apparently not be cleaning rabbits for me) said “The American Republic will survive until Congress discovers it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”
Read Mr. Mehaffey’s letter and consider for yourself, would you rather live in a world where “fairness and just rewards exist,” or create one in which they do not?

Dana Davis
Los Lunas

We all grieve in different ways, and help each other
Editor:
What do I know about grieving? I only know my own personal grief.
Webster’s Dictionary states: Grief is a keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss, sharp sorrow, painful regret.
It looks like it’s part of the human condition. Probably, no one gets out of this world without being touched by grief.
However, the severity and duration of this deep pain seems to vary from person to person.
Again, I can only speak from my own experience. But perhaps relief works for everybody. What is working for me might help someone else.
After a year of pain and frustration … running to specialists in Albuquerque, my beloved husband of 53 years, George, went to a better place. And he didn’t take me — the first time.
During that sick year, I stopped going places with friends (two book clubs, the movies, church activities, etc.) Then, for almost three years since he passed, I didn’t want to do the fun things that I always loved. I just didn’t care. But friends and family did.
My sons, Curt, in Texas, and Chris, in New York, call me constantly and come and visit me when they can. You know you must perk up when they come long distances to be with you. The lease I can do is not mope around. And talking and laughing is infectious.
My other son, Chuck, is in an assisted living home in Albuquerque. I call him every day, and it’s my job to be sparkling, interesting and definitely upbeat.
And then there’s Nancee, my prettiest daughter. She calls me every day, and on Sundays, she takes me to Albuquerque to visit Chuck. The visits are as good for me as they are for him.
Nancee, who works very hard all week, has been giving up her Sundays for three years. She lives in Albuquerque, which means she comes south again to take me home, and finally north again to her home. I know how lucky I am.
My cousin, Barb, who lives in Florida, has been sending witty cards for all occasions. Barb always makes me smile. She and her husband have very serious health conditions. Thanks Barb for being you.
Ah friends. What a blessing. In spite of her own grief and sorrow, Dorothy has been calling, visiting (from Albuquerque) and sending me notes that praise me. She thinks I’m a better woman than I am. She’s the friend I would wish for everybody. You couldn’t find better!
Alice not only invited me back to the church book club, but she gave me the list for the year and the book we were reading that month. How could I not read the book and go to the meeting? It was great.
She also kept telling me how nice the Del Rio Senior Center was. She was right. I’m enjoying the people and the activities.
I really look forward to Friday mornings from 10:30 to 11:30; we have live music and a sing-a-long — or try to. Pauline plays the guitar and sings in English and sometimes Spanish. She’s got a plaintive quality in her voice that’s touching, and she can harmonize.
Bob plays a terrific guitar. He was a professional. He knows his stuff. He can take off and get us going.
Larry plays several harmonicas. If he wasn’t a professional, he should have been. They are great! The rest of us sing and occasionally prance around. I love it.
What can I do to thank all the people who have touched my life for the better? All I can think of is to try and help others see, “It really is a wonderful life.”
P.S.: Thanks Nancy and Alys for letting me win once in awhile at our weekly rummikub game.

Nancy Faust
Belen

Tomé can be safe as well while maintaining beauty
Editor:
In response to Peter A. Lupsha and the Tomé IMPS: We all enjoy the trees, wildlife, horses and the other animals and birds that you have along N.M. 47.
Seven years ago, when we drove south from Albuquerque on N.M. 47 for the first time, we remarked how much more pleasant it was than driving Interstate 25.
However, having a four lane, or at least a three lane highway would not diminish that enjoyment. It’s not about being able to go faster and it’s not even about the farm machinery we very occasionally encounter along N.M. 47. Most of them are courteous and move over as soon as possible.
I understand that some of the UNM-VC students and others do drive too fast and sometimes recklessly. Having a wider highway would just make it safer for all of us.
The speed limit can and should be kept at 45 mph, as it is now. This state highway is the only east side arterial connecting the county with Albuquerque.
Tomé residents told us at a county commission meeting that they considered the road dangerous. Even though the IMPS don’t mind living dangerously, I don’t think the commuters like it.
We also are “old school conservatives,” but don’t believe that we should block the economic development of any area in Valencia County, be it Tomé, Belen or wherever.
Have you actually driven from the El Cerro corner to the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area lately? We have, and I took pictures because I am appalled at what you IMPS think is pleasant to look at.
For example, on the east side of the highway, there is a junk yard with wrecked trucks, cars and unidentifiable scrap; and it’s quite a large junk yard.
There are various other properties that are anything but attractive. If you all want to complain about something, I suggest you start working to get those unsightly messes cleaned up.
Let’s work together to make Tomé safer, better economically (with new businesses) and more pleasing esthetically when we drive on N.M. 47.

Alice Torwirt
Belen