Letters to the Editor for Aug. 31
Think of taxes as dues, in view of what they do
I read with relief and satisfaction L.D. Davidson’s Aug. 12 Viewpoint, “Taxes are price of good life, not such a burden.” He wrote that “taxes are (the) price of (a) good life, not such a burden,” trying to educate Americans to take a different look at the issue of taxation. I would like to add some other ideas.
The word “tax” has a negative connotation, courtesy of Robin Hood. Wicked King John sent the sheriff of Nottingham to exact payments — taxes — from the serfs, so the word tax and wicked have grown together. We then have the hero Robin Hood stealing money from the rich to give to the poor — where he would now be derided as promoting “income redistribution.”
So what do we call the money we need to collect from citizens to maintain our government and its work? We call it a “tax.” I suggest we use the word “dues” instead. Like a club, or a civic organization, members pay dues to help both the internal work (staff and buildings) and the usual charitable work beyond. Isn’t that the same as supporting our government and its functions?
Dictators in many countries did, and still do, steal from their own citizens. But in America we do not have a wicked king enriching himself at our expense. We have a government “by the people and for the people,” collecting those dues needed to maintain our upper- and middle-class lives and to help the disadvantaged.
For all of us, it means things like water delivered to our faucets, fire and police protection, education, weather predictions, emergency aid for natural disasters, roads, bridges and airports and more. We all benefit from these communal functions. Even the wealthy who can afford private school, roads or police still benefit from all these thing our governments do.
For those who have less, we use our dues to help provide needed support, and for those who have more than enough we ask, or should ask, their help in maintaining all that they also benefit from.
If anything, the taxes we collect do more to help those with enough, especially the rich and corporations who enrich themselves at our expense.
And for those who think using tax money to help the poor, or to provide for education, isn’t our job, read that Bobby Jindal, the conservative Republican governor of Louisiana, asked President Obama for help in advance of Hurricane Isaac and to declare his state a disaster area, needing federal emergency funds. What provides this help other than our taxes?
With this campaign growing increasingly ugly, listen carefully to the candidates’ and campaigns’ use of words, and consider your own. Words and images do matter and often distort perceptions — don’t think “taxes,” think “dues.”
U.S. should at least let farmers grow ‘hemp’
I believe the Aug. 21 article, “For law enforcement agencies, it’s time to harvest the marijuana,” withheld important facts for cannabis in the United States. In particular, the report did not mention recent developments in the U.S. Congress that may complicate all such anti-marijuana action.
Soon, farmers in New York and every state could be legally harvesting entire fields of cannabis plants.
In early August, a bipartisan group of senators introduced an amendment to the federal Controlled Substances Act. The amendment would establish a legal distinction between cannabis “hemp” and “marihuana.” It was titled the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, based on a companion measure in the House of Representatives.
If approved, the amendment would allow farmers to grow cannabis hemp for profit. It only permits crops with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of 0.3 percent or less “on a dry weight basis.” (Cannabis flowers with higher THC amounts are commonly known as marijuana.)
The Industrial Hemp Farming Act is unlikely to pass before the presidential election. Political leaders remain gridlocked on most issues.
For their part, voters continue to support existing laws that prohibit “pot.”
Yet there are huge annual costs associated with arresting and imprisoning marijuana offenders; with perpetual helicopter flights over our communities; and with the related prohibition of domestic hemp farming.
Taxpayers also deserve to know the price of this war on cannabis, and precisely when it’s going to end.
What’s big deal about photo ID for voting?
I may be confused, but I do not understand what the problem is with photo IDs for the privilege of voting.
Recently, my wife had to show a photo ID to pick up a book for me at the library — the book was reserved in my name. I have had to present a photo ID at the doctor’s office for treatment; at the pharmacy to pick up medications; at my bank for certain financial transactions.
People who appear young must show a photo ID to purchase alcoholic beverages or tobacco products. College students all possess photo IDs to obtain services. I have a photo ID to obtain services at the Veterans Administration.
A search of the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website explains how to receive a non-license photo ID. Age 62 or older or people receiving SSI [Supplemental Security Income] are eligible for a photo ID for $6.50 for 10 years. Age 62 or older and drawing SSI can receive one for free. Others may obtain a photo ID for $8 for eight years. Sounds simple to me.
When photo IDs are available and are required for such common, everyday activities, then the integrity and validity of the voting booth must be protected. If people are so out of touch with the rest of society that they do not participate in any of these activities, then how can they be trusted to make an educated decision in the voting booth?
James P. KIRBY
One excellent reason for male circumcision
The Aug. 27 article [“Pediatricians: Benefits justify circumcision”] in which the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses the circumcision of newborn boys was both informative and encouraging.
If there is still, after reading this article, hesitation in the decision making by parents of a newborn boy, I suggest they scan the results of a study undertaken by the New England Academy of Medicine appearing in its April 12, 2002 edition.
Their study states that the area beneath the foreskin of an uncircumcised male is a virtual breeding ground of the Pavlovian virus, a virus which is a prominent cause of cervical cancer in women. The study concludes that women with uncircumcised partners are as much as 500 times more likely to develop cervical cancer than women with circumcised partners.
If that, alone, isn’t reason enough for the procedure, I don’t know what is!
Investment in canal system pays dividends
During the discussion surrounding the proposed hike in Thruway tolls, the value of the state’s canal system has been questioned. This is shortsighted: The canal system is an essential New York investment.
New York’s Erie Canal is an icon — an internationally known attraction that draws visitors by land and by water from around the state and around the world. These visitors spend money in our historic upstate communities, helping to support museums, restaurants, gift shops, lodging and other local businesses that are the backbone of many local upstate communities.
This is especially true of the growing economic and tourism potential of the state’s 524-mile Canalway Trail System. With more than 270 of its 365 miles now complete, the Erie Canalway Trail, the flagship of the system, is fast becoming a premiere tourist destination for cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts.
These visitors are generally an affluent group that typically spend between $100 and $300 per day and are willing to travel significant distances to trails, like the Erie Canalway Trail, that offer a good mix of cycling, attractions and services.
For the more than 4 million New Yorkers who live in the counties where the trail is located, the Canalway Trail System also offers health and quality-of-life benefits that reduce health care costs and increase property values.
Supporting New York’s canal system is an investment that brings excellent returns. We applaud New York state for being a good steward of the canal and Canalway Trail and recognizing the full value to New York of our state’s canal system.
The writer is executive director of the Parks & Trails NY.
On race, Obama has become the great divider
When Barack Obama was elected, I believed the country had a seminal moment. We had moved past the questions of race as demonstrated by electing a black president.
Unfortunately our first black president has acted to divide the races and classes rather than unite them.
Soon after his election, there was the incident of the black Harvard professor, Henry Gates, who Obama claimed was the victim of racism by the Cambridge, Mass., police department. However, tapes demonstrated that the police were right and Obama was wrong.
Next, the refusal of the Obama Justice Department to prosecute Blank Panther thugs intimidating voters outside a Philadelphia voting precinct. Then there was the comment, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon (Martin).”
He said this without knowing any of the facts of the shooting. His comments served to stoke the flames of racial discord further.
Most recently his lackey, Vice President Biden, speaking to a predominantly black audience, said that Republicans intended to put them “back in chains.”
Then there is his class warfare attack. Obama’s “shared prosperity” redistribution of income suggests that the government should take your wealth so they can give it to those [who] need it more than you. Never mind if you worked harder or took more risk. His “tax the 1 percent” campaign is another example of this. He seeks to divide the country by creating class envy.
Racism is evident in his current campaign. He has created “African Americans for Obama.” That is a little curious, since he received 96 percent of the black vote in 2008. Can anyone imagine how the liberal media and Obama’s campaign would scream if someone created a “Whites for Romney” group?
Obama has become the great divider — not the great uniter.
William F. Malec
The Gazette wants your opinions on public issues.
There is no strict word limit, though letters under 200 words are preferred.
All letters are subject to editing for length, style and fairness, and we will run no more than one letter per month from the same writer.
Please include your signature, address and day phone for verification.
For information on how to send, see bottom of this page.
For more letters, visit our website: www.dailygazette.com.