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January 17, 2008

Helping benefits us all

Recently a number of letter writers, responding to reports about the subprime mortgage crisis or columns in The Star, emphasized individual responsibility. That is commendable, and the espoused principles (e.g., Gary Pederson on the Jan. 14 Letters page) are absolutely supportable. Unfortunately, too often there is a self-righteous stance behind these comments that turns categorically against so-called government handouts.

What these people seem to forget is that a nation is not just an assembly of individuals, but a collective with a minimum amount of necessary solidarity. If voluntary charity worked, the United States, whose population is generous, would not have the highest percentage of people in poverty among advanced Western nations.

Access to universal health care, day care and free education are actually the in the best interest of all members of a nation, unless they are intent on holding up class barriers. No other Western society has the immense imbalance of wealth that the United States has, and that is why support for those in need has to come from the collective.

As taxpayers we have to choose our representatives wisely, so that our contributions to the common pool of money are used in the interest of the majority of us.

Klaus Karbaumer
Platte City


Mark Robertson

"From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

Karl Marx

Universal Government run health care has been a disaster wherever it has been tried. And of course government schools are so successful.
Forced wealth redistribution does not work. Private charity actually does help the poor. Government welfare programs create disincentives for donating to charity.
Collectivism killed over 100 million people in the last century.
Free markets and private charity are the answer.
When the economy is strong, private charity thrives.
After the Reagan tax cuts, the U.S. economy grew in the 1980s by the size of the former country of West Germany. Charitible giving increased in the 1980s 55% over the previous 25 years.(Univ. Cal. Irvine study)

Mark Robertson


Klaus may be a moderate or he may be a socialist, many or the aims of both are the same. On the other hand our country grew prosperous and most of its citizens prosperous by international standards through allowing the exercise of individual initiative. Klaus' remark about "those living in poverty" does not define poverty. If you made a single definition of poverty and applied it to all countries I don't think you would find that a larger percent of US citizens fell below that level than in other industrialized countries. The "poverty level" in our country is a relative thing, not based either on what a reasonable person would define as poverty or on a fixed definition of poverty. My guess would be that 90% of my generation grew up in life styles much more limited than those provided by today's US "poverty line". There are those who cannot help themselves and should be helped. There are those who could but won't if a free ride is available. As to education, offering it will not help unless those to whom it is offered are willing and able to accept and profit by it. It is my understanding that Japan has free advanced education. However it is offered on a competitive basis, you must do well academically to merit further education. Could you see such a program being accepted in the US?


Look out Klaus! I expect your use of the word "collective" is going to get you hammered as a socialist.

Yes, folks. There are other choices than "dog eat dog" or "government take care of everything".

I keep looking for a headline that reads:


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