PAINE’S COMMON SENSE

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I read with a great deal of interest Prof. David Morris’s column on Thomas Paine (“The Long-Lasting Influence of Common Sense”). Readers should understand that Paine did not stop with the most cogent and perhaps first-published arguments on why the Americans should separate from the British Empire. He also wrote, just a few years later, two of the most important tracts on why society must care for its less fortunate citizens, in the second part of Rights of Man (1792) and Agrarian Justice (1797).

In those two works, he laid out a social welfare program that in today’s world, had he known about it, might even encompass the Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court upheld just a few weeks ago. He favored social security for the aged, educational benefits for young people and other programs that many of us take for granted in the 21st century. Where was the money to come from to pay for it? The wealthy, who can afford higher taxes, and even inheritance taxes on the rich, what our conservative friends prefer to term “the death tax.” Paine was truly a visionary, and while we may never know for certain how many of his works were sold (no records were kept), he did write some of the period’s great best-sellers.

Jack Fruchtman

Aquinnah

Jack Fruchtman’s most recent book is The Political Philosophy of Thomas Paine (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009).

SUMMER OF SHARKS

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Jawsfest: The Tribute has received numerous questions regarding our Summer for the Sharks conservation initiative, with people wondering if we are against the Boston Big Game Monster Shark Tournament that begins this week. The answer to this question is no; however, we would like to see that tournament convert to a catch-and-release event, as is happening with many such tournaments today. As a local business owner, who also runs TicketsMV.com, I fully appreciate the revenue derived by local businesses from events. I also appreciate that select shark populations have declined by a frightening 90 per cent in the last 40 years.

As part of Jawsfest, we have a three-day shark conservation component entitled Sharks, Arts and Conservation in Oak Bluffs where we will bring together scientists, photographers artists and conservationists from around the world to help us understand and appreciate the importance of sharks to the health of our oceans.

We are pleased to see return of great white sharks in the waters around the Cape, as scientists estimate there may be as few as 3,500 remaining in our oceans. Our season-long initiative includes donation shark receptacles created by local artist Paul McPhee.

I hope this letter helps to answer questions that may exist.

Susan Sigel Goldsmith

West Tisbury

The writer is the producer for Jawfest: The Tribute, an event planned for August.

FAMILY PLANNING’S FRIENDS

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Thursday, May 24, Friends of Family Planning of Martha’s Vineyard Inc. hosted our annual art show benefit gala preview party. Each year we are overwhelmed by the generosity of our Island community. This year, our gala event (relying almost solely on donations) was one of the best and most successful ever, due to the many donors who made it possible.

As a break from our tradition of hiring a caterer for the gala, this year we made a decision to ask restaurants if they would be willing to donate food and beverages for the gala. This saved us the considerable cost of catering and meant that we would raise more funds to benefit the clinic. The result? An overwhelming response. Not only did people donate, they did so with incredible generosity and enthusiasm. And, oh, the food! Literally, from soup to dessert: exciting, delicious, abundant and fun!

Once again, our community proves what it is made of.

The board members of Friends of Family Planning give the generous donors our huge heartfelt thanks. We are in your debt. Because of your generosity, we are able to support our Family Planning clinic here on Island. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Jennifer Knight

West Tisbury