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The Mighty Mite

My notes on taxes in today’s Impromptus include an opinion that is not wildly popular: that every worker should pay taxes — from the pimply kid making minimum wage at McDonald’s to Rockefeller. You know: Everyone contributes to the commonweal; everyone has a stake. I’m also pretty sure that everyone should pay the same percentage, but that’s a “whole ’nother issue,” as we said in my family, and, in any case, a “non-starter,” as the pols and wonks used to say in Washington. (Do they still?)

(Mondale was teased for saying “total non-starter” in a debate against Reagan. It was supposed to be an example of his inability to speak normal language to normal people.)

Anyway, a reader writes,

Dear Jay,

I had a lay teacher named Ms. Selma at an Indianapolis Catholic school in third grade in 1968 — back when the nuns were beginning to be allowed to let some hair peek out from under their habits. Ms. Selma spent half of an English lesson convincing the class that it was very important to give to Goodwill versus the Salvation Army because Goodwill charged at least a little something, and everybody — even the poor — should have to give at least a little. It was a matter of dignity. I’ve never forgotten that lesson.

Three comments, please: 1) Is that letter redolent of a bygone America or what? 2) I realize that “Ms.” seems an anachronism, but that was our letter-writer’s honorific. 3) Have no doubt of my admiration for the Salvation Army! I believe that William Booth was one of the greatest men ever.

And a fourth comment: That sweet little letter provides significant food for thought.


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