I must admit that I initially thought that Troy Hyde's letter ("A Fan of Taxing Rich People Less Makes His Case," Mailbag, July 30) was an excellent mockery of the flat-tax position. I thought, "What a great job he's doing of showing how ridiculous the flat-tax position is simply by explaining it." Then I realized he was serious.
He writes, "By taking away the 'penalties' of success, a flat-rate income tax provides incentives to succeed. For example, if I work hard to make $2,000 a year, it is taxed at 5 percent; if I work harder to make $4,000, it is taxed at 10 percent. Where is the incentive to work harder, create jobs, etc.?"
Really? Last time I checked, the incentive to work harder is that extra $1,700 you'd make after taxes. Does he really think that the poor would choose not to earn an additional $1,700, because they'd be penalized by an additional $200 in taxes? Really? It's too bad we can't ask Mr. Hyde; presumably, he's in the lowest tax bracket to avoid such horrendous penalties.
There is much, much more to the story about The Giving Tree ("Doing Too Much?" Aug. 6).
Do you know why they had the violation in April? Because I had my students from the Upward Bound Program (who are disadvantaged students; we help them in high school to do well so they can succeed in college and in life) do a community-service project for The Giving Tree, and about 20 local businesses stepped up to help by donating materials and labor amounting to more than $100,000 so that we could fix up four of the homes for the homeless mothers and their children, teenagers, the disabled and dying (who had been thrown out of hospitals to the gutter to die). Neighbors and city officials: That is a good thing, right? During that short time in April, because only a couple of hotels stepped up to provide shelter to these people while we fixed the homes, the rest had to sleep outside ... as homeless people do, because without The Giving Tree, these homeless have nowhere else to go. Apparently, the city wants to make sure no good deed goes unpunished. I can only surmise that they would rather the homeless people were thrown to the streets.
And have you met the homeless people? The Giving Tree has policies against drug use and violence, etc.; they are providing shelter to good people who got a bad deal somewhere in life and who have been turned away by all the other agencies in town—because there was no more room, not because they are bad people. Being in education, I have worked with such people for more than 15 years, and I can tell you that we are all just a step away from being homeless, like those who get sick and lose all of their money, and those working for employers who buy up companies, dump lifelong employees and run off with the employees' money.
I have worked now for a number of years with The Giving Tree, because they use me to help their clients get into college. Yes, The Giving Tree works hard at getting homeless people back into school and into jobs; making your life better is impossible when you have no safe roof over your head. I know many of their clients' stories, and if we turn away from those in need now, then someday, we will find that nobody is left to help us when we are in need.
I've followed with interest the recent news regarding The Giving Tree, run by Libby Wright. The articles brought back unpleasant memories of my association with Ms. Wright when she ran an assisted-living home for the elderly.
I took care of my elderly parents for several years, but eventually, they were unable to continue living in their own home. I met Wright in my search for a care home, and based on my initial impressions, I placed my parents with her. Wright allied herself with an out-of-state relative who had little understanding of my parents' needs, due to distance and infrequent visits. Yet Wright refused to respond to my wishes for my parents' care, although I was the closest relative geographically. Even their doctors had a difficult time getting Wright to cooperate. While the years of watching my parents age and decline were difficult, it was made worse by Wright's lack of professionalism, lack of skill, hostility and extremely erratic and controlling personality.
She promotes herself as a savior of the vulnerable, but, in fact, she exploits them for her own aggrandizement and, when caught in violation of laws and regulations, declares herself the victim of an unfair system. In reading her quotes in the recent article about The Giving Tree in the Tucson Weekly, the content of her comments are "I," "me," and "my." While she's messing around with people's lives, her claim of knowing God's will and tossing off Bible quotations are shameless justifications for her marginal behavior.
The one regret I have from the years of elder parent care is putting my parents into her incapable and greedy hands.