OUR READERS' OPINIONS - 04/24/11

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Americans want tax fairness, not tax cuts

Why are politicians so terrified of the T-word? Even the original tea partiers weren't opposed to the idea of taxes - they were opposed to the lack of representation.

And though Ronald Reagan - the man the tax conservatives idealize - initially cut taxes, in the face of spiraling deficits he soon realized his error. By his re-election in 1984, he had restored 40 percent of the taxes cut.

Most Americans pay taxes dutifully. They see the value of pooling money and working together to make our country a better place. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Americans are more concerned about how tax money is spent than the actual amount they pay. Also, most Americans think the rich should pay more taxes, not less. Congress needs to realize Americans want tax fairness, not tax cuts.

As we know in Walla Walla, now is not the time for cutting taxes, but for raising revenues. We recently voted to increase the sales tax to support our bus system. Our City Council membes rightly increased the sewage rates to repair ancient sewer lines. And, hopefully, our county commissioners will again increase the sale tax by one-tenth of one percent to help the mentally ill.

Unfortunately, in Congress, few are brave enough to propose tax increases, so we are forced to make budget cuts. But why is the Pentagon always spared whenever federal program cuts are made?

In the recent budget deal at least $5 billion was added to the Pentagon's budget, though the Pentagon has admitted to tens of billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse. Why is it acceptable to waste money in a five-sided building but not OK to spend a lot of Medicare money in a hospital to save grandma's life?

The Cato Institute, Taxpayers for Common Sense and other groups have called for Pentagon budget cuts of nearly $1 trillion over the next 10 years. Congress members Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell and Cathy McMorris Rodgers must be brave and demand these cuts for the sake of our country's economic health and future prosperity.

If we can't cut the military budget, perhaps we should return to the fiscal policies of decades ago. During both World Wars, U.S. taxes were raised to help pay for military expenses. The top marginal rate hit 94 percent during World War II. Eisenhower kept the rates high in the 1950s. Remember how prosperous and happy we were?

Annie Capestany

Walla Walla

Taxpayers not funding WW Gun Club project

It's reassuring to know there are many people out there who want more accountability for public expenditures. I think we all can appreciate Phyllis Garvas's sentiments as expressed in her letter to the editor in a recent Sunday edition regarding the proposed grant funding for Walla Walla Gun Club's new range.

Perhaps it would be reassuring to Ms. Garvas if she knew that absolutely no taxpayer funds of any kind would be expended on this project. Perhaps it is worth repeating - absolutely no taxpayer funding. The Recreation and Conservation Office's Firearms and Archery Range and Recreation program is funded 100 percent by the fees imposed upon citizens of Washington state who voluntarily apply for concealed weapons permits.

The state keeps a portion for its use, and the Legislature directs that the balance be distributed by grant process to the worthiest of projects for the purpose of providing the people who pay the bill with a safe place to shoot.

Andy Porter's several articles about the Gun Club recently pointed out this funding fact, so it has been reported in these pages before.

Interestingly, it's not just pistol shooters who benefit. Indeed, rifle and shotgun shooters, and even archery shooters, benefit even though they do not contribute directly to the fund. Law enforcement will train there and no taxpayer funding will back their use of the range. That has also been reported by the U-B.

What's more, many civic youth groups will benefit if the Gun Club is funded. For example, there is nowhere in Walla Walla County for the Boy Scouts, 4-H, FFA or ROTC to shoot their .22 rifles. These programs have been on hold for years since the town's two indoor .22 ranges closed many years ago.

There are lots more people in our area who will benefit even though they have not contributed at all to the dedicated fund that will support them.

In short, the RCO-FARR funds are user fees, which benefit the taxpayers with a portion, and those users who contribute with a portion. We can all appreciate this kind of funding mechanism.

I for one wish there were many more like it in Washington rather than the other method that asks the taxpayer to dip from the general fund to support each program.

Believe me, no one appreciates Ms. Garvas's concern about public funding of special-interest programs more than the members of Walla Walla Gun Club. We pay taxes, too.

Bob Bloch,

secretary-treasurer

Walla Walla Gun Club

Aviary is special part of park

As hard as it is for me to believe, there are people living in our very own Walla Walla Valley who have never been to Pioneer Park and have no idea the Aviary is there!

That is particularly surprising to me as a native of Texas who has only been here since 2006, yet I knew about the Pioneer Park Aviary even as a resident as East Texas. It's one of the unique features of Walla Walla, and it is written about prolifically in other areas of the United States as such.

You can't visit any of the online sites relating to Walla Walla without finding prominent and pertinent info about our Aviary. Lots of places have parks, so Pioneer Park isn't so special in the overall scheme of things, I suppose. It is inconceivable to me that anyone living in this area wouldn't enjoy this park every chance they got. It's free. It's gorgeous. What more could you ask?

We heard last fall that the city of Walla Walla couldn't afford the Aviary in its budget, but it took until the middle of December to organize a committee to address the problem. The city‘s cooperation has made the light at the end of the tunnel look less like a train!

That committee has evolved, organized and tackled the first priority issues since then. We are going to become a licensed nonprofit whose sole purpose for existence is to ensure Aviary operations in the future. We met and greeted residents, downtown and in Eastgate, we held a wine- tasting-and-auction fundraiser and community interest has evolved into fundraising events sponsored, organized and presented by partners in the community. It is so gratifying to watch partnerships form to support something so important to the quality of life here as the Pioneer Park Aviary.

Even if you think you know all about the birds in the Aviary at the park, I guarantee you will learn something new on a guided tour. If you haven't been to the Aviary, these guided tours are for you.

Check us on Facebook regularly for announcements and be sure to visit our website at friendsofpioneerparkaviary.com.

Peggy Jennings

Touchet

Words of Founding Fathers not ambiguous

I obviously struck a nerve when quoting certain Founding Fathers' exact words that explained the true reason for the Second Amendment.

Ray Norsworthy apparently felt obliged to join a chorus of like-minded Democrats in opposition to the Framers' intent regarding the right to keep and bear arms (Founding Fathers would differ on gun matters, April 15).

This chorus line, sticking to the same old song and (tap) dance, tries hard to steer the discussion in every direction possible rather than address the exact, very clear words of (anti-Federalist) Thomas Jefferson, (Federalist) Alexander Hamilton, Noah Webster and James Madison. We've seen fallacious, diversionary arguments before but this is more like straw men tap-dancing down a slippery slope while waving red herrings.

Yes, "small arms" is a specific military term. Wikipedia is fine, but any vet or firearms expert will confirm it refers to shoulder weapons that can be carried, such as rifles, machine guns, submachine guns, and also side arms.

Incidentally, machine-gun ownership is legal under federal law. A law-abiding citizen need only pay a one-time tax of $200. Google "NFA firearms ownership." Automatic weapons are banned only in a few states (including ours). Forty states allow them.

As for Mr. Norsworthy's anonymous friend, neither I nor the Founders implied that the Constitution was perfect. On Jan. 1, 1788, George Washington himself said it was not, writing, "...a constitutional Door is opened for Amendments, and may be adopted in a peaceable Manner, without Tumult or Disorder".

Any study of the Constitution certainly includes the Federalists, the anti-Federalists and of course the "elastic clause" (which has been stretched too far and too often). However, the Second Amendment - and the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights - are not "elastic."

Those who founded our nation did indeed differ on many issues prior to enactment, but they eventually came together and ratified the Constitution - thanks in large part to James Madison who brought together the Federalists and anti-Federalists in a compromise resulting in the Bill of Rights.

The main reason the Federalists were initially hesitant regarding the anti-Federalists' demand for a Bill of Rights was because they feared a long list of specified rights would be problematic. The 10 amendments resolved the issue, with the tenth reserving all powers not delegated by the Constitution to the states respectively, or to the people.

The Founders were brilliant men and their words were not ambiguous.

Steve Singleton

Walla Walla

Put 15 percent income tax on all

I was glad to hear the president wants to revise the tax code. I say, "Let's make this very, very easy, so everyone understands."

I suggest everyone pay the same percentage, say 15 percent. Whether you earn $10 per week, or $10 billion per week, you pay 15 percent. That includes business, corporations, everyone.

After all, last year, the Supreme Court said corporations are the same as you and me, when it comes to political donations, so why should they be any different, when it comes to taxes.

Then, let's take away every loophole and deduction. No tax breaks for anyone, just a straight 15 percent. I'm almost positive every known "perk" can be costed out and then taxed as income. Then, you give corporations a deduction, only for those jobs they create on American soil.

Jennifer McCutcheon

Walla Walla

Tax is tiny price for mental-health service

Both compassion and economic common sense demand we raise the sales tax one-tenth of 1 percent to alleviate the mental-health-care crisis in Walla Walla. The need for psychiatric help spans all age and economic groups, as tragically illustrated by the recent spate of suicides.

It included those who had contributed much to Walla Walla, and whose deep depression was not visible to loved ones. These deaths may well have been averted if psychiatric help had been available.

How many of us can remember a time in our lives when learning some coping skills from a psychiatric care practitioner would have been most helpful?

Those with mental health problems constitute a large part of the homeless community. Some of the psychologically ill pose a threat to the community. All represent a drain on our economy.

Many are prevented from being contributing members of society because of treatable mental illness. A large number end up repeatedly in hospital emergency rooms or in jail. Neither institution has staff trained to help the mentally troubled.

Hospital rates must be raised for all patients to cover this expense, and at times the safety of physicians and patients could be compromised. Taxpayers, of course, pay the tab for the mentally ill who are imprisoned. Without treatment, the time in jail will do nothing to help them get better, a nonproductive waste of taxpayer dollars.

How much kinder and economically intelligent to provide the mentally ill an opportunity for psychiatric treatment!

A one-cent increase in sales tax on a $10 purchase of non-food items is a tiny price to pay to provide this critically important service.

Beth Call

Walla Walla

Great to see compassion in action

A shout out to the young cowboy in the pick up truck who jumped out to help the struggling gentleman in a wheelchair get across the street today by Albertsons. It was lovely to see compassion in action.

Patty Froke

Waitsburg

Islam and the left sabotage America

How the left supports Islam and sabotages America came to mind when reading the Sunday's Washington Post article on the Perspective page entitled "5 Myths about Islam." There was a qualifier attached to each myth and that was the word "American."

For example, American Muslims are foreigners. American Muslims are ethnically, culturally and politically monolithic. American Muslims oppress women. American Muslims often become homegrown terrorists. American Muslims want to bring Shariah law to the United States. The 5 Muslim myths is a leftist marketing ploy.

The myths become truisms when the word American is deleted from the myth statements. America just happens to be a few years and an ocean away from what is happening in the United Kingdom or the Netherlands. If you substitute the UK or the Netherlands with each myth, they become truisms.

Saudi Arabia has been involved in the United States for decades, establishing Islamic centers and Islamic studies. Georgetown University is one of the largest recipients of Saudi petro dollars.

Saudi Arabia is home to the Wahabi Islamic sect that produces religious schools, which in turn produce jihadists, which brought us Osama bin Laden and the 19 perpetrators of Sept. 11.

Perhaps, Saudi Arabia even owns some of the media bringing us these messages.

Both the left and Islam are anti-capitalist on economic issues, favor entitlement programs, increased taxation, restriction of free markets and socialized health care. Islam is not about the individual and its central tenant is to establish and spread Shariah law. Do not be misled by the 5 myths about Islam.

Islam and the left are not strange bedfellows, and covertly and overtly sabotage America.

James W. Allen

Walla Walla

Republicans represent corporate interests

If I am a businessman and I sell widgets, my goal is to sell my widgets for as much money as the public will buy them for. That's called capitalism.

So, if I make widgets is it wrong for me to sell my labor for as much money as the businessman will buy it for? Or is it wrong for me to negotiate with others who make widgets so we all get as much for our labor as possible?

Is it wrong for me to put my $10 with the other guy's $10 so we can compete for the same congressman who the businessman is trying to influence?

After all, we have two votes, and the businessman only has one, but he has more money. This my friends, is what a union is. Workers standing up for workers. The little guy, against the corporate interests.

Our unions have given us the eight-hour day, the five-day work week and our child labor laws. They have given us the right to bargain collectively so our voices will be heard in the workplace.

And none of these perks came easily and, in some cases, blood was shed and lives were lost because businessmen didn't want to give the workers the dignity their labor was worth.

Every year, the unions fight for more money for social programs. Not because they benefit the unions, because they benefit middle America.

They are not perfect, but they do represent the working class and fight for our rights. That is why the Republicans hate the unions.

The Republicans represent the corporate interests, not the working man. That is why the Republicans pass tax breaks for the rich and lower corporate taxes.

That is why the Republicans held an unemployment-benefits extension hostage until they got a tax break for the rich (the third one in 10 years, to the tune of $5.4 trillion).

Bruce McCutcheon

Walla Walla

Salvation Army does much good

I have ascertained these facts from the assistant director of the Salvation Army.

Financial assistance in four areas during 2010.

1. Restored water to 190 homes at an average $150. He called the city ruthless in its manner of shutting off the water.

"They have no concern for the inconvenience." To get it turned on again, there is a $40 surcharge. I cannot imagine what it would be like to use a plastic five-gallon bucket. The feces and urine to be thrown in the back yard or buried in a shallow hole. Total $28,000.

2. Electric bills - $32,400 - 216 homes at $150, average to restore service.

"The utility people are much nicer and helpful. ... If there be children in the home, the Salvation Army is notified."

3. Homeless families. There were 37 evictions. Three-day accommodations at a motel at $191. Total - $7,068.

4. Food bank. Much of the food is donated. Nearly 8,000 people were served at an average of $50 per family. Total - $397,000.

Ten percent is needed for administration. Ninety percent is spent doing the things desperately needed in Walla Walla.

Please join me in helping these very worthy people.

Ralph Miller

Wallla Walla

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