Our readers' opinions - 05/01/11

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Nobody escapes regressive taxes

The editorial on April 21 suggested everyone should be required to pay some income tax. That would be an unfair burden. Deductions must be allowed to level the playing field for all households, and if those deductions use up their gross income, they should not have to pay Uncle Sam.

There is only one thing worse than paying taxes on income: Not making enough to pay income taxes.

It should be pointed out that nearly everyone pays taxes. All private wage earners in this country pay a nearly 16 percent payroll tax on incomes of $106,000 or less (half is paid by the employer, but that's really a part of wages), and that money goes directly to the U.S. Treasury and is designated for entitlements.

But any excess, which over the years now amounts to $2.6 trillion, is loaned to the Treasury and spent on general government obligations. The irony is, that surplus now needs to be tapped to meet increasing Social Security obligations, and Congress and pundits are crying foul saying entitlements are bankrupting us.

This is nonsense. Entitlements are covered by their own special tax. What's not covered by taxes is everything else the government spends money on.

To put my point another way, consider this: Entitlements constitute 44 percent of government expenditures. Wage earners are supporting 44 percent of the budget through payroll taxes even if they pay no income tax. Let's stop blaming entitlements for deficits and put it where it belongs -- Congress keeps voting for earmarks, social programs, defense, etc, without the courage to vote the taxes to pay for them.

It also needs to be pointed out that every consumer in Washington, and many other states, pays sales taxes. And then there are excise taxes, real estate taxes, etc.

People may escape income taxes, but they certainly don't escape the regressive taxes, which can add up to a very large percent of household income.

Jack DeWitt

Milton-Freewater

Our debt is fueled by dependence on foreign oil

I read the article on Big Oil and cannot help myself but to reply. This is exactly why this country is dependant on other countries for our crude oil, when we have the largest oil reserves in the world and also a $14 trillion national debt and growing.

As I have stated in an earlier letter, we spent $337 billion borrowed dollars last year to buy 425 billion barrels of oil. This year with crude being over $100 a barrel it will be even more.

The majority of our national debt can be directly contributed to our dependence on buying foreign oil over the past 40-plus years.

We can't drill in all the places we know we have crude and are now tying up a highway to occasionally haul a few large loads that cannot get to the destination where it is needed to break this strangle hold of dependence. Is totally ridiculous.

When are you people going to wake up?

Robert Jackson

Walla Walla

Cure for cancer must be funded

What a disappointment the Republican budget bill that recently passed had cuts to cancer research funding. One person a minute dies from cancer, young or old, in this country every day!

Everyone of us has heard of or knows of someone who has cancer, including myself, or has died from cancer. We have been attacked by a terrorist -- that being cancer.

Rep. Eric Cantor. R-Va., when questioned on "Meet the Press" about cancer research made it clear that no area of the budget is safe from potentially being cut and that cut could mean no cure would be found.

Will that help people? Cancer is a national killer and has to be dealt with on a national level.

Cancer research cannot be paid for with cup cake sales, spaghetti suppers or ice cream socials. This is a deadly serious problem and it must be funded in order to find a cure.

We somehow find the money to continue to be policeman of the world, now how about we become policeman of America and find the way to defeat cancer! The tea party tells us the United States has "the world's finest health-care system" -- now let's prove it!

Hank Koepfle

Walla Walla

Photos told touching story of reunion

The reunion photo story gracing the front page on April 15 was a gem -- bravo!

I am so grateful to U.S. Army Sgt. Pedro Colunga, his wife, Shayna, and his son Camrin for their willingness to share this moment with Camrin's preschool class and the whole community, and also to Camrin's teachers Mary Crum and Jean Thomas for their roles in allowing that sharing to take place.

Kudos, too, to photographer Jeff Horner for catching the amazing facial transformation from shock to pure joy and elation as Camrin saw -- then ran to -- his long-missed daddy. Well done, really; it makes me smile each time I look at it.

Kathy Ruthven

Walla Walla

Equity needed in who can drive

An article on page A3 of the April 25 Union-Bulletin stated Gov. Gregoire signed into law legislation making it easier for noncitizens to keep from being deported if their sentence for violating a law was too long, triggering deportation by the federal government.

What was truly interesting was Travis Stearns' (deputy director of the Washington Defender Association) comment stating, according to the article, "The change brings Washington in line with most other states."

Another comment attributed to Tony Guevin, OneAmerica state policy and legislative manager was, "It comes down to equity."

Passing legislation requiring proof of being in this country legally in order to get a driver's license in Washington state would also have brought Washington in line with most other states -- 48 at last count -- but our legislators chose not to do so.

Passing that legislation would also have put some equity into who is able to have a driver's license in our state -- only those who are legal residents.

Let your legislators hear from you, if you care. There is always next year. Otherwise, it's business as usual.

Jim Davison

Waitsburg

Man-made carbon dioxide can't change climate

Pretend for a moment that stunning banner headlines tomorrow announce that solid scientific evidence has confirmed what I and many others have been saying for years: That man-made (anthropogenic) carbon dioxide does not/cannot cause global warming or climate change.

What would be the ramifications? What dramatic changes would result regarding measures that have been undertaken -- costing trillions of dollars -- to reduce so-called "carbon footprints"? (Trillions taken from our wallets and purses in the form of taxes.)

The Obama administration, which has used erroneous data from the UN's IPCC and our EPA (which just forced Shell to abandon major drilling plans), would have to: drop efforts to limit drilling, coal use and refineries -- dramatically impacting gasoline prices and power costs; end plans for cap and trade "carbon credits" (CO2 isn't carbon); halt imposition of "cow taxes" -- per-head taxes for livestock-generated methane; cease giving billions in grants for frivolous climate efforts; and revoke economy-damaging fines on auto manufacturers and power companies over CO2 emissions. And that's just the beginning.

Fraudulent lies by Al Gore and others who know better continue to drive this scam, steering those who trust them (and have good intentions) down garden paths. Lenin allegedly labeled such gullible followers "useful idiots" and that is exactly the title now appropriate for Gore's supporters in politics, academia, science and the general public.

The truth is very simple: Earth's atmosphere consists of 21 percent oxygen, 78 percent nitrogen and 1 percent other gases. Due to variables including altitude, let's round off those "other gases" to 2 percent and call them "greenhouse gases." (I use quotes because our planet's atmosphere does not really act like a glass-enclosed greenhouse.) Ninety-five percent of this 2 percent "greenhouse gas" is water vapor ... humidity, clouds and that white stuff (steam) you see coming out of factory chimneys on environmentalist websites!

Breaking down the remaining 5 percent (of that overall 2 percent "greenhouse gas"), 1.38 percent is methane, nitrous oxide and other miscellaneous gases; 3.62 percent is CO2. Of that 3.62 percent only 0.117 percent is actually CO2 generated by humans! This minuscule amount of carbon dioxide cannot and does not significantly affect climate or global temperature. Surely Al Gore is aware of that but the lie made him rich and powerful.

My personal library contains over 40 books by a wide variety of climatologists and others who provide evidence that anthropogenic CO2 cannot significantly affect climate or temperature.

Why won't Gore's "useful idiots" even consider this possibility?

Steve Singleton

Walla Walla

WW has higher wages and rough roads

I think the city of Walla Walla operates on standards the rest of us don't understand.

It sends a public works operations superintendent to teach Afghanis to maintain infrastructures, which I assume mean "living with potholes and ruts." While that is a noble gesture, I believe protecting the substructure and utilities under the roads requires maintenance of the surface!

The all-time basic three rules of a stable road surface are drainage, drainage, drainage. Potholes and ruts do not fit well with that object in mind and result in higher costs down the road.

Now during a request for higher taxes, when the rest of the U.S. is rolling back wages, Walla Walla gives the city directors a whopping 7.1 percent increase. Now I doubt the U.S. economy has improved to the point of increasing wages that much.

Similar rules for roads apply to extortion for more taxes. Demonstrating reductions in city costs by maintaining the city structure at a lower cost level go farther when asking for higher taxes rather than raising the cost of doing business beyond the available budget then asking for higher taxes.

I'll bet your public would like to suggest how you might better serve them. Probably watching purple paint dry isn't one of them. Sorry I don't live in Washington, but I do spend my money there and where I can I drive off the roads where it is smoother.

Richard Weaver

Milton-Freewater

Stop the madness

Just before the first of the year, I got pressed into service to be the "caregiver" for my sister-in-law, who suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta.

Through the state she was granted 373 hours of care for each month or an average of 12.5 hours per day.

Now, mind you, she actually needs 24/7 care, but the great state of Washington only allowed for 373 hours.

First of all this is not an issue in our household because she is family! But, let's look at it as if she had no family as many of our senior and disabled people find themselves.

Because of the "budget crisis" the state cut her hours to 353 and she pays more for her medications, receives less in food stamps and received no cost-of-living increase from Social Security.

Under the Republican plan , there would be less money for those who use Medicare. This means less money to the state and another cut in her hours, another increase in the cost of her medications (and fewer of those medications covered), another reduction in her food stamps and they want to "revamp Social Security." (I read that as either cuts or no cost-of-living increase again.)

Many of our citizens will find themselves unable to stay in their own homes, and end up in long-term-care nursing facilities. I know we all have stories about "nursing homes" and I agree that they are not the best answer, but that will be the only answer for thousands across Washington.

This plan also reduces the reimbursement to those nursing homes, which means (since they are profit driven entities) reductions in staffing, and services, but no reductions in cost. Presently, the cost of long term care is approximately $82,000 year for each senior and disabled person.

Now I agree, there is no place in the state reductions about wanting to hurt any of our seniors, or disabled citizens. After all, all they did was cut numbers.

Being in Olympia or in Washington, D.C., our representatives don't actually have to see the faces of these people, nor do they have to see how they are forced to live. They only see numbers on the bottom line.

Is this how it is to continue? Washington, D.C., makes cuts then the state makes cuts, then the people suffer.

This is just one example, I know there are thousands more, and both the state and Washington D.C., need to hear every one of them.

Stop the madness. Get involved!

Bruce McCutcheon

Walla Walla

Now is time to stop tax increases

When did we vote to pay $36 for storm water?

I do not feel this can be justified by any part of the Constitution of this great nation. Our forefathers founded this nation on certain beliefs and representations. None of which are followed in this request for payment from the county.

How can you reasonably not consider this a tax? Taxes are something that are voted on and applied to the people, of which there shall be no tax without representation.

How can you call it a bill for services? Most will not see any services and this is clearly something that should be paid for with our county tax dollars.

This is not about the money, but about the principal. The county has clearly strayed from the principals of this nation. The county cannot randomly come up with new sources of revenue without the vote of the people, so we understand what we are paying for, and why we might want to vote for this.

The county is responsible for all the roads and maintenance of those roads is paid from our tax dollars.

Storm water is no different. Subdivisions and other developed properties are approved by the county and built in accordance with that planning. The developers pay for all the underground utilities and are quite often responsible for improving the road conditions that run in front of these developments. These charges end up passed on to the purchasers of this developed property.

This makes absolutely no sense why the American taxpayer would allow this to continue. Have you given thought to what might be next?

When will the county learn to manage its budget and stop with the increases in taxes and fees?

I believe, given the opportunity, it will continue to spend every dollar it brings into the county and will be looking again in a few years to start raising the existing charges while finding new ones.

We, as taxpayers, need to stop these new and existing increases while we still have the opportunity. If not by our letters, then by our votes, removing the existing commissioners from office!

Robert Greene

Walla Walla

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