I HAVE read a couple of interesting letters from Robbie Mochrie, but must take issue with the latest offering (Letters, April 9). He says: “It is the tax paid on the last pound of income which affects decisions about how hard to work”, and making tax more progressive is “blunting the incentives for the most productive half of the Scottish population.”

I do not believe either of these statements to be true. Most people do not have a decision about how hard they work, and it is only a small proportion of any population who can consciously afford to decide not to work because of tax implications. Most of us work as much as we can and happily pay our taxes because we recognise that if we are to have public services, this is what we must do. And is Mr Mochrie honestly saying that paying a penny or two more in the pound is really going to be a disincentive to work?

It also paints a very broad-brush picture of the economy to characterise the highest taxpayers as the most productive members of society. Pay levels are socially constructed, often gender-biased and tend to reflect how important higher earners perceive themselves to be. You only count in statistics if you are deemed to be contributing more to society, as measured by how much tax you pay. But in Western society the productivity of many jobs is completely unrecognised in many cases and is not reflected in the tax paid.

What about classroom staff who face violence every day and yet are paid what amounts to little more than minimum wage? Or care home workers who do some of the most unsavoury jobs? Or people on zero-hours contracts paid deliberately little, so less liable for tax, or people deliberately kept on minimum wage by employers hoping for tax credits to make up the difference? I guess that Robbie Mochrie does not fall into any of these categories. Perhaps I am wrong?

Some sectors of society receive no pay at all so pay no tax, principally of course the (largely) female population who become 24-hour-a-day parents, whose work in the home counts for nothing in government statistics but who are helpfully providing the future generation to pay the pensions of the present-day high earners.

Julia Pannell

IN reply to her letter of April 7, may I thank Anne Smart for her comments. Debate on these matters is always welcome.

Your reader is correct. I did say that politics and religion are the same thing. They are. It is most often the politics of religion that turns people against it. By religious politics I mean attitudes to abortion, sex before marriage, tithing, same-sex marriage and sexual abuse scandals. Opinion on these matters can turn people against religion and even lead to aggressive atheism which ridicules peoples’ personal beliefs.

A person’s faith, however, is another matter and can exist outwith organised religion.

There are also politics in the family, the workplace and healthcare, for example. But these are not the same as international politics, geopolitics or the politics of warfare.

Emile Durkheim, the sociologist, stated that “beliefs are true” and I believe this extends to atheism.

With regard to the Bible being a “fairytale,” there are tens of millions of believers who would disagree. Perhaps I could direct your reader to Magnus Magnusson’s epic BC:The Archaeology of the Bible Lands, which details excavations of the actual cities mentioned in the Bible.

Jesus of Nazareth is, in fact, the most recorded person in history, with over 2000 references to his name, including contemporary Roman records prior to 33AD. Historically, therefore there is no question that Jesus existed. What he represented, however, is a matter of opinion.

You reader believes that all wars are caused by religion. Religion comes from the Bible (the Koran and the Tibetan Book of the Dead). If these books did not exist there would be no religion. If, as your reader claims, the holy books are on a par with fairy stories, then she may as well blame war on Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. The Chronicles of Narnia, of course, was an allegory on Christianity. I would hope that your reader has taken time to read the Bible before dismissing it as a fairy tale!

Anyway, I digress. Perhaps your reader could now reply to me indicating which of the wars and conflicts I listed in my letter were caused by religion.

Leaving mental gymnastics aside, this is the crux of the whole matter.

WJ Graham
East Kilbride

THE excellent article by Vonny Leclerc on the upcoming abortion referendum in the Republic of Ireland (Ireland’s abortion vote matters to all women, April 9) brought the following thought: that when an independent Scotland comes to write its constitution, it states that women have full and unfettered control of their own bodies and reproductive capacity.

Jon Southerington
Deerness, Orkney