LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - We owe kindness, understanding to neighbors

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I am not a fan of "big" government any more than I am a fan of big wars, big greed or big posturing within that government. Nor do I relish hearing both political parties preach of what the (singular) American people want in terms of public policy.

When our elected officials use that phrase, when they invoke the mandate of "the American people," they fully ignore those millions of citizens who disagree. The subtext is that to disagree with their position is to be un-American.

Civil and neighborly disagreement and discussion is the heart of democracy. Unfortunately, most politicians I hear yammering on the radio seem intent on making rifts of belief and opinion deeper in this country, and thereby pitting citizens against each other. Making enemies of neighbors for political ends is disgraceful.

The discourse about taxes is a good example, I think. Rich versus poor. Bleeding hearts with open wallets versus cold, uncaring, nanny-state opponents. And never the twain shall meet.

The upper class shouldn't be punished for doing well financially just as the lower class shouldn't be discriminated against for struggling. However, I do think that when tax increases are proposed for rich people, we should recognize how wealth is accumulated.

Yes, it happens through hard work, exceptional talent and smart planning. It also happens by playing the game well. The game that is our economic system has been set up to create both winners and losers.

People don't win simply by their own steam. They win in no small part because of the country they live in, its laws, its protections, its incentives and the sum total of its citizenry -- rich and poor. They win also because there are those who lose, and because of that fact, they owe a bit more to their fellow players.

But just as we owe our allegiance to our country that has so influenced our circumstances, we owe our understanding and kindness to our neighbors as we discuss solutions to our collective economic problems. We all play on the same field, slanted though it may be.

Andy Asmus
Walla Walla

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