One thing that is going to come up in this election will be whether the 'rich' should pay their 'fair' share.

What has always confused me is those who say they want this but never explain how much that 'fair share' is.

This strikes me as odd because I know of no way to talk about taxes, other than with numbers. No one ever gets a tax bill that reads, 'send in the mauve amount.' We've never gotten a tax bill that says 'send in what you feel is right.' What do we get? We get a book with columns of numbers and at the end of whatever calculations we have to make there is an exact number of dollars owed in taxes.

So how is it that someone can promise you they want the rich to pay their fair share and have no idea at all just what that would be in dollars and cents, or even percentage of income? I would sure like to hear people asking that question of state Rep. Brad Witt and Congressman David Wu, both career politicians who no doubt are all for the rich paying that fair share.

I can promise you they won't have an answer and I have a couple of ideas about why.

First, if that day were ever to come, quite a few office holders would have a hard time explaining to voters and even themselves just why they should remain in office.

Secondly, believe it or not having the rich not paying their fair share does an awful lot of explaining. Most have already heard that government programs fail or are out-performed by their private counterparts for this very reason.

That's right.

Welfare programs failed to end the war on poverty, because the rich aren't paying their fair share.

Public schools aren't better or even close to being as good as private schools, because the rich aren't paying their fair share.

And why do you think the U.S. Post Office isn't as good as Fedex, UPS or any of the other private carriers? I think you've already guessed-those doggone rich people are again not payin' their fair share!

Now I already know that there are some folks out there who wouldn't get out of bed in the morning unless they thought that somewhere, somehow, some rich person was losing money or suffering some kind of distress. I kind of feel sorry for these people, but I don't think I can do anything for them.

I wrote this letter for what I hope is a larger group of people that I call 'default liberals'. These are people who don't hate the rich at all but go along with the people who do because for some reason they aren't aware of all of the private alternatives out there for helping others.

I wrote this letter because of those who are being lied to and taken advantage of by a small ruling class perpetually promising something they have no idea how to achieve, and would run from if they stumbled onto it by accident.

I know the haters won't question these leaders or their programs. For them it's not about the poor and never has been. It's about finding an excuse to attack the rich. So I'm appealing to all of you default liberals. The next time you hear a politician talk about 'the rich paying their fair share,' ask them to explain how much that is with numbers. When they talk but don't answer you, pay close attention to the look on their face. Whenever you see that look, I'm pretty sure you can discount whatever they are saying.

- Rich Mason, St. Helens

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