The interesting thing about John Lucas’s reply, “Economy would improve if the rich paid their share,” Dec. 18, 2013, to my reply, “President Reagan helped the economy grow,” Dec. 12, 2013, to his letter, “We need to get back to building a strong economy,” Dec. 10, 2013, is that he did not comprehend the nature of my reply.
To paint a picture, anyone who has studied B.F. Skinner’s operant conditioning using reinforcers (both positive and negative) to influence and modify behavior knows that ignoring certain behaviors and providing positive reinforcement for others is an appropriate strategy.
Mr. Lucas, in his reply, appeared offended and outraged that I ignored the points he “attempted” to make in his original letter about the rich and his perception that they do not pay their fair share in taxes. In reality, I was utilizing Skinner’s technique to ignore the majority of content that I felt had no merit or substance. I also was providing a negative reinforcement in chiding his obvious animosity for Republicans — Ronald Reagan and Mitt Romney.
He then writes a second letter focusing on his view of fairness. If Mr. Lucas had focused on the following, it may have added balance and perspective:
Wealthy Americans earn about 50 percent of all income, but pay 70 percent of the federal tax burden, according to the CBO. The middle 20 percent of income earners paid just 9 percent of federal taxes, less than two-thirds their share of income. By contrast, the top 1 percent paid over 22 percent of all federal taxes, while earning 13 percent of the income.
Lastly, only the rich pay death taxes. Generally the estate tax is due nine months after the date of death. If a person with $1 billion in assets died in 2013, his/her estate would have $397,900,000 in death taxes due. Isn’t that fair enough?