Regarding George F. Will’s Jan. 8 op-ed column, “The socialist behemoth”:

Did Mr. Will fall asleep in the early 1980s and just wake up? The “socialist behemoth” redistribution machine he described has changed over the past 35 years, as Americans turned from Great Society liberalism to more conservative policies, cutting states’ general-assistance programs, ending open-ended entitlement to cash assistance under welfare programs, and cutting taxes and adding tax credits that undo progressivity in the tax code. IRS data show that the tax rate on the wealthiest 400 households declined from 29.3 percent in 1993 to 18.1 percent in 2008.

Mr. Will suggested that envy of those whose wealth has increased, rather than growing inequality, is the problem. But the economy has not created wealth for all proportionally, the “thought experiment” cited by Mr. Will notwithstanding. We need to revitalize our economy and increase the skill levels of those falling behind, not create bogeymen tales in the form of self-enriching socialist governments.

Mike Jewell, Reston

George F. Will gave readers an excellent description of the goal of social democrats and progressives. He said: “The left’s centuries-old mission is to increase social harmony by decreasing antagonisms arising from disparities of wealth — to decrease inequality by increasing government’s redistributive activities.” By Jove, I think he’s got it!

The purpose of FDR’s New Deal and the postwar Labor government in Britain was indeed to have government act as the agent of the people in guarding against poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, hunger and ill health. And, yes, the social compact declared that the people’s tax payments would be dedicated to the common good, through redistribution of assets to the poor and the needy, rather than have those people rely on private charity. Welcome to the left wing, Mr. Will.

Anna McG. Chisman, Washington

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George F. Will inveighed against a “redistributionist” federal government in which certain factions become “muscular enough, in money or numbers or both, to bend government to their advantage.” But as John Aloysius Farrell noted just a few sections away [“What’s the difference? A better tax break,” Business, Jan. 8], bending government’s will is really the job of the plutocrats. Loophole-exploiters like venture capitalist Todd Dagres have gamed the tax code for decades. But when interest groups representing people whom Mr. Will apparently views as less deserving stake their claim to the nation’s wealth, his indignation is aroused.

America’s wealthiest men and women have used their political might to rig things to their advantage for decades. For liberal groups to seek some measure of balance seems only appropriate.

Eric Schellhorn, Falls Church