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John McCain, then a presidential candidate, attends a campaign rally in 2008. Mr. McCain died on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018, at his home in Arizona. He was 81.

MICHAEL APPLETON

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Billions, translated

Re High-Earner Tax Revenue Fell $4.6-Billion After Rate Hike (Aug. 27): If you ever wanted to demonstrate the use of bafflegab to anyone, the quote from Pierre-Olivier Herbert, spokesperson for the Finance Minister, would be a classic example: “Preliminary aggregate statistics for the 2017 tax year are broadly indicative of a substantial rebound in taxable income reported by high-income taxpayers, but it is too early to quantify this effect.” Irrespective of the final result, Mr. Herbert has covered all his bases, so it can never be said that he and his Liberal government were wrong.

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Brock Pullen, Sarnia, Ont.

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I think this is backward.

Consider this headline: Failure To Facilitate Canadian Oil Exports And Domestic Distribution Cost 30,000 Alberta And Saskatchewan Higher-Income Families Some $10-Billion In 2016 Income.

And as a secondary headline: This resulted in some $4.6-billion less personal income tax being collected.

Let’s tell it like it is.

John Shaw, Toronto

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Planet in danger

Marcus Gee argues that in terms of health, longevity, escape from poverty, and other measures of well-being, the world’s population is better off now than it has ever been (Even Without Rose-Tinted Glasses, Life’s Still A Lot Rosier – Aug. 25). Arno Kopecky (It Is The Best Of Times, It Is The Worst Of Times – Opinion, Aug. 25) argues that while this is true, the planet’s ecosystems are in mortal danger due to the human actions that have accompanied or given rise to the gains in health and prosperity. This dilemma is at the heart of the failure of major governments to take immediate and necessary steps to prevent global climate disaster.

We can’t afford to take these steps now, it is said, because they would harm the economy. What meaning will a strong economy have if the means to maintain it make the planet hostile to the continued existence of humans and other complex life forms?

Resolving this debate is not only necessary but urgent, and public education, such as these articles, is a necessary step toward achieving that resolution.

Harold Kalant, Toronto

The elephant in the room here is human population growth, which inversely correlates to ecological decline. And why is that? Is it to do with the delicate moral questions involved, or the daunting practical challenges in controlling population growth?

Or is it the vested interests of the industrial complex, that mandates “growth” as a necessary precursor to human prosperity?

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Todd Hamilton, Oakville, Ont.

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I recommend that Marcus Gee read Arno Kopecky.

While, by many metrics, things have never been better, the science and the wildfire smoke in the air tell us that the party won’t last forever. Even disregarding climate change, the plastic oceans and the Sixth Great Extinction, if everything is awesome, why are people electing angry, anti-science demagogues who promise to turn back the clock to times when infant mortality was higher – and to stop efforts to solve the problems that beset us?

Maybe voters don’t want leaders who remind us that we are living on borrowed time.

Gareth Lind, Guelph, Ont.

Deserving of respect

Re McCain Left A Road Map For America’s Rebirth (Aug. 27): At a weekend event in the Maritimes where some U.S. service personnel participated, the announcer asked the crowd to stand for the playing of the American anthem, as is always done in such cases.

The thought of Senator John McCain’s death on Saturday made rising easier. The fact he fought to protect the democratic pillars of his society from current external and internal threats right up until the end of his life deserve respect. He may have committed some blunders during his lifetime, but one had the sense that under his watchful eye, America’s underlying democratic rule of law was being carefully guarded.

Giselle Déziel, Cornwall, PEI

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While reading the glowing accolades directed at John McCain’s life, I was wondering how many of the countless people his political beliefs helped make miserable, and how many of those who died due to his staunch support of wars, will be happy to see him arrive. The sooner we stop cherry-picking what we wish to hear about a person’s life, and examine the good and the bad, the closer society will be to forcing some people to think twice about their misery-causing behaviour while they are able to.

Bill Bousada, Carleton Place, Ont.

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Like most baby boomers, I have been to a number of funerals – family and friends, colleagues and students, young and old, good and bad, but the common theme for all of them is a eulogy that remembers the best of the person and forgets any failings.

It is reported that, as is customary in such cases, the White House had prepared a statement praising John McCain but President Donald Trump refused it and sent out a brief tweet instead. This breaks a long tradition and is shameful.

The invitation of two presidents, Barack Obama and George W. Bush, to speak at his funeral shows that Mr. McCain was able to work with all, well almost all, in the political world. His request to exclude the serving President from attending is in itself unprecedented. The custom is to “Never speak ill of the dead” – although it should be updated to include, “Never tweet meaningless banalities.” Fortunately, there are many who will speak well of Mr. McCain.

Dennis Fitzgerald, Melbourne, Australia

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In the game of bridge, we are admonished to count our losers before embarking one’s contract. In the real world, the same rules apply. Last week we had two global losers – the Pope and the President of the United States. This is nothing new, but the accumulating disasters that they have been promulgating on a worldwide basis will have a lasting effect (Archbishop Alleges Pope Francis Covered Up Abuses – Aug. 27).

On the other side of the ledger, we have just been deprived of two powerful voices for sanity and world peace. Two men who exemplified much of what used to be good among those who we looked up to for leadership and calm decisiveness. The deaths of Senator John McCain and UN former secretary-general Kofi Annan leave an ever-bigger void in the ranks of those whom we can truly call “gentlemen.”

Where do we look now for those who can try to rescue us from the seas of trouble that surround us? Doug Ford? Viktor Orban? Boris Johnson? I shall leave it at that point …

Geoff P. Williams, Victoria

Hmm …

Re How Do I Manage ‘Texting Thumb’? (Pursuits, Aug. 25): I just got back from Sweden and Norway, and what a pleasure to see people walking down the street talking to each other, or just walking and thinking! I have a quick and easy answer for the questioner. Stop texting!

Steven H. Brown, Toronto

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