Sachs observes that in recent decades, total U.S. federal, state and local taxes have consumed about 33 percent of gross domestic product as compared with average European tax burdens of about 45 percent of GDP. He concludes that we must match European tax levels to avoid funding the proposed budget deficits with crushing debt.
The “false choice” lies in assuming that we must (and should) choose between incurring unsustainable debt and massively increasing taxes to European levels. The alternative way, of course, is to moderate the growth of spending. This policy option escapes mention, but it should not. One consequence of the substantially higher tax burden that many European countries have imposed is that their economies have tended to be more sluggish and less dynamic than the U.S. economy and that they have paid the price in generally higher rates of unemployment and slower technological innovation.
Philip Allen Lacovara
In “Legal Side Effects” [Updates], Kate Wilcox claimed that a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision left drug companies “wide open for lawsuits.” The decision upheld laws that are much needed, especially in light of the long-standing practice of pharmaceutical companies to sponsor and pay for “research” of the drugs they manufacture in order to market the drugs’ positive effects while concealing their dangerous side effects in patients. The court’s decision upholds important constitutional rights afforded to all citizens and should be welcomed by a journal that promotes scientific study.
Mininno Law Office
THE EDITORS REPLY: Updates is part of the magazine’s news coverage, not an editorial. Thus, Wilcox was not expressing her personal opinion nor that of Scientific American.
Note: This article was originally printed with the title, "Letters."