Share This Page

Saturday essay: Badge unworthy

| Friday, Feb. 7, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

The email came from a local Boy Scout, 16, part of the process to earn his communications merit badge. He wrote in response to my column of Sunday last about how unemployment benefits and food stamps are not an “economic stimulus.” It's fundamental economics, despite what “progressives” claim.

But the young man exposed his poor reading comprehension when he contended that I wrote “how food stamps are detrimental to the economy and should be eliminated.” Nowhere in the column was that point of view expressed.

Far more disturbing, however, was this statement: “(Y)ou fail to take into account the extremely wealthy who have more than enough money to spare.”

Continued the young man, in a subsequent email exchange: “I know they have enough money because of their extravagant spending, buying such items as yachts and luxury cars. If they have enough money to purchase these items, then surely they have enough to contribute toward the less fortunate,” he wrote.

But they already do, I wrote back: The top 1 percent of earners pay nearly 70 percent of all taxes. The top 40 percent paid 106 percent of all taxes. The bottom 40 percent “pay” a negative 9 percent. Never mind, too, that yacht- and luxury car-building are economic stimuli, employing many people the world over.

The young correspondent fell silent. One should hope he is not representative of all Scouts seeking their communications merit badge.

— Colin McNickle

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.