To the editor:

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the slogan "Think" began to take hold at IBM, brought forth and encouraged by the company's founder, Thomas J. Watson.

The slogan was meant to encourage employees and people in general to think on a deeper level. Now, in a country of sound bites, where newspaper readers never get beyond the headlines, there has perhaps never in history been a better time to reintroduce the idea of thinking.

Last Saturday, after a beautiful day with my family at Good Harbor Beach, we stopped for a nice lunch at Amelia's. As we ate our lunch, we listened to an older gentleman at a nearby table waxing eloquently to his small captive group about how the problem with America is that "the rich aren't paying their fare share."

Now, I realize the power of words and phrases and their ability, when used by politicians and community agitators, to manipulate the crowds, but to hear my fellow citizens mindlessly parroting back these un-quantified nonsensical phrases is quite disturbing.

While there may be a very small place for these kinds of thoughts if, like our president, you believe the wealthy obtain their wealth by sheer luck and not by hard work, assumed risk and intelligence, this error in thinking cannot be corrected by a letter to the editor of our local paper. So this note is for the rest of you.

Historically, conservatives have valued freedom over equality and liberals have valued equality over freedom. Freedom guarantees equal opportunity, not equal results, and perhaps Barack Obama's presidency is the best example of freedom in action.

So back to our friend at the restaurant ... the question we want to answer is "What is our 'fair' share?"

This is a great question for any taxpayer to ask, and for the liberal who has not quite converted to Socialism, the word "fair" may even stick out as a logical concept.

The most recent data released by the Congressional Budget Office shows that the top two quintiles of wage earners ("the rich") currently pay 99.2 percent of all federal income tax, with the bottom two quintiles ("the poor") not only avoiding any tax payments, but actually taking almost 4 percent in "refunds" (not including welfare or other entitlement programs).

It may be important to point out that the minute the government gives a dollar to someone who hasn't earned it, it have to take it from someone who has.

So the next time you feel the urge to complain that the rich aren't paying enough, please try to be honest and remember that they, in fact, pay almost all of the federal tax burden.

It's enough to notice that our leaders propagate lies for political gain. We as a people, however, should not fall into the same behavior.

Further, if you're really concerned about your fellow citizens paying their fair share, write a letter to our non-representing representatives in Washington and let them know that you would like them to support a flat tax measure in which everyone would pay the same percentage of income, whether they earn $1 or $1 billion.

Who knows, they may even listen.

SHANE MERRITT

Western Avenue, Gloucester

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