Assange is no Daniel Ellsberg
I am struggling to reconcile my 20-something self's unreserved approval for the release of the Pentagon Papers with my now 60-something's distaste for WikiLeak's continued tsunami of classified documents.
While some of my ambivalence is no doubt due to a subtle shift slightly to the right as I grew older, it seems to me that Daniel Ellsberg's release of a carefully selected cache of documents came from a sincerely held desire to end a war in which we were hopelessly mired. He did so painstakingly, document by document, copied at great risk and for no personal gain.
Julian Assange appears to have no scruples whatsoever. With a few ill-conceived clicks of a mouse, he has enlisted his personal cyber army to spew ill-gotten confidential information with the sole purpose of embarrassing our government and military, no matter how nobly he attempts to paint it.
The ability to do something doesn't necessarily mean it should be done. Mr. Assange, you are no Daniel Ellsberg.
Julia Larson, St. Petersburg
Florida atones for injustice | Dec. 10
Working toward justice
While I'm a big fan of the Doors rock band, a pardon for Jim Morrison seems silly. By comparison, the articles about expressing regret to the Freedom Fighters in St. Augustine who led the way toward a brighter future moved me to tears. It's a shame these actions took so long, but I'm grateful to state Sen. Tony Hill and Gov. Charlie Crist, and to the Times for its coverage.
As Dr. Robert Hayling said, "There's still much to be done," and your articles helped me explain to my children why they always need to work toward justice. We've come so far, and as long as prejudice remains — I'm a white woman and have seen prejudice in many forms — we must continue to work toward unity and freedom for all people.
Leslie Farrell, Tampa
Middle class destroyed
I am astonished that more people are not upset over the increasing income gap between the top 20 percent of the population and the remaining 80 percent. Professor Bill Domhoff of the University of California says that the top 20 percent control 85 percent of the wealth of this country, and the bottom 80 percent control 15 percent. The middle class is all but destroyed.
Even so, most people believe the last 30 years have been good for them and the country. This was a period of faux prosperity, driven by weak credit practices that have collapsed since 2008. Everyone knows about the mortgage debacle, but few realize that the credit card business was about as bad.
Easy credit is now a thing of the past. I think that it will soon be obvious that the bottom 80 percent, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to spend us back into prosperity.
Dorothy T. Byrne, St. Petersburg
The Obama surrender | Dec. 8, editorial
Taxed twice isn't right
I usually agree with the Times' editorials, but I have a problem with the portion of your Dec. 8 editorial that concerns the estate tax. People who work their entire adult lives, and through their intelligence and abilities manage to accumulate a multimillion-dollar estate, should not have that estate taxed at the confiscatory rates you seem to advocate.
They have already paid their taxes — most likely at the highest marginal rate — during their working years and should not be subject to the double taxation imposed by the estate tax.
You call the deal that was worked out "far too generous." On the contrary, I would argue that there should be no estate tax at all.
Kaia Adler, Lecanto
For those of us who were inspired by candidate Barack Obama more than two years ago, the intervening period has been one of disagreement, disappointment and now, depression.
The inauguration of Obama as president was seen as a step America had bravely taken to deal openly with the racism that infected this country for so long, and more immediately, as a step away from the war-and-imperialism doctrines of the neoconservative Republicans.
Additionally, many supporters felt that this new president was given a mandate to push through new policies, reform entrenched back-door politics and to put the American middle class back on the road to the prosperity it had enjoyed under Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.
Now, Obama is saying that he can do nothing but make back-room deals with recalcitrant Republicans to allow their oil-soaked, gold-plated backers to tuck away more Krugerrands under their down pillows.
Obama likely won't get a new arms treaty, the unemployment concession is sadly flawed and the GOP will fight again in two years to not allow the tax cuts to expire.
And in December 2012, there will be some fresh-faced Republican president-elect whispering under his or her breath, "Thank you, Barack Obama, this is the greatest Christmas gift of all."
Robert P. Curran, Beverly Hills
Deal makes sense
As an independent, I was pleased by the agreement on the expiring Bush tax cuts. I feel it is a good deal for several reasons:
1. The far right-wing Republicans and the far left-wing Democrats are howling in perfect harmony about why this agreement is the end of civilization as we know it.
2. The two sides actually achieved bipartisanship, which has been sorely lacking for two years.
3. Most economists want to extend all tax cuts with an eye on future deficit reduction policies.
4. It's a stimulus that otherwise couldn't be passed using the word "stimulus."
I think President Barack Obama got the best side of the deal because in two years if the economy is in a better situation, he'll look prescient. On the other hand, if we're still struggling, he'll be able to blame the Republicans for stuffing tax cuts for the rich down our throats and have an issue on which the public clearly favors him.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
Social Security tax cap
New York Yankee Derek Jeter just signed a contract that will pay him $17 million per year. I can certainly understand why many are suggesting that Congress remove the cap on Social Security earnings so that everyone pays tax on all income in any given year.
However, does that mean Jeter should collect a Social Security benefit of $100,000 per month when he retires in 30 years? If he is going to pay into the system 350 times the normal amount, will he be allowed to receive 350 times the regular payment? I doubt it.
It's not about how much one pays into Social Security, but rather how much one receives relative to the pay-in.
Fortunately, there is a middle ground. Should Congress elect to eliminate the cap, those over the cap should be given the option of investing the additional taxes into a private retirement account. All high-wage taxpayers who elect to do this would not be allowed to collect Social Security benefits. They would only receive income from their private account. They would not only be paying into Social Security for the benefit of lower-income individuals, they would not be adding to the program's liabilities.
Scott Stolz, Tarpon Springs