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Letters 4/11/11

- April 11th, 2011
Less talk, more action
To all of you who write in and talk about the crisis that is going on
in Michigan and specifically regarding Rick Snyder, the Governor --
what are you doing other than writing letters to the editor?
I can understand where it might give you a venue to vent your
frustrations but what else are you actually doing? Have you written to
the governor or to your senators or representatives? Have you
participated in a rally either here or in Lansing? Do you vote on
various websites expressing your thoughts?
There are ways to make changes other than writing a letter to your
local newspapers which I don’t see as resulting in any changes. I
would like to see people become outraged at what is happening in our
state and across the nation and to do something about it in a peaceful
constructive manner.
For instance -- if you are against the war(s) come to a meeting of
Veterans For Peace. They meet the third Saturday of every month at
10:30 a.m. downstairs at Horizon Books. After the meeting, there is a
peaceful march around downtown Traverse City. You do not have to be a
veteran. This is only one of many, many ways that you can get involved
in the political scene and try to make a difference.

Tom Emmott • TC

Unwarranted attack
To be attractive to new employers, Michigan needs a strong revenue
stream to meet its infrastructure requirements. The service sector is
50% of our economy. We must consider some tax on this large portion of
our economy in order to protect our education system and provide a
safety net for low-income individuals.
We need to consider taxing some portion of senior pensions, but it
needs to be well crafted and avoid a negative impact on low-income
seniors.
We do not need to expand the corporate welfare that is being proposed in
the current budget discussion. After 20 years of tax cuts favoring the
business community, we have not experienced the promised improvement in
the jobs picture.
Cutting unemployment benefits, reducing the homestead tax credit for
seniors, eliminating the earned income tax credits and taxing low income
senior citizens is an unwarranted attack on the lowest level income
persons in our communities.
If we are going to be strong again we need to balance our tax policies,
include seniors, the service sector and a responsible contribution from
the business community.
We should be proud of people who dedicate their careers to public
service and not expect them to be the first line of cuts when times are
difficult.
We are all in this together and should share the responsibility to
improve the quality of life in Michigan.

James A. McKimmy • via email

Controlled by elites
As I reflect on this tax season, I marvel at how well the elites have
convinced us that they, the upper 5%, have the absolute right to rule
our country. It reminds me of the feudalism that controlled Europe
for 600 years.
The elites, via their media, and well-paid serfs, tell us that what is
good for them is good for us. They branded the estate tax as a “death
tax.” So, a tax that only affected the top 2% was eliminated.
Billions were removed from our revenue stream. Income taxes are bad
they say. So taxes on the richest are branded “repressive” and
massively cut. Billions were removed from our revenue stream.
Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country but
universal health care is bad they say. So it’s branded “death panels”
and never considered because the elites want to protect the billions
they make from insurance and drugs.
We have wars and our kids suffer and die, but the war contractor elite
brand it “fighting for freedom” and make billions in profits from our
tax dollars, and pay virtually no taxes.
No amount of program “cuts” will improve this nation. We need to
expand programs to help We The People, and thus we need more revenue.
During the Eisenhower years the elites were taxed at 90%. They survived
and the nation prospered.
We have, I believe, feudalism wrapped in red, white and blue and
branded “democracy.”

Arnold Stieber • Grass Lake

GOP‘s Good Old Days
It is clear that certain politicians of a party (that shall be
mercifully nameless) that this is their agenda to take us back to the
good old days:
1) Do away with labor unions;
2) Do away with income taxes and estate taxes;
3) Shut down Medicare;
4) End Social Security and other forms of welfare;
5) End women’s suffrage;
6) End child labor laws (bring back 8-year-olds in the mines and mills);
7) End the minimum wage, let workers be happy with a dollar a day;
8) End the 40-hour week and paid vacations, bring back the 60-hour week;
9) Reinstate indentured servitude.
All those social programs to be eliminated were instigated by liberals,
enemies of unbridled capitalism. Are you ready for the Good Old Days?

Harley Sachs • Houghton

Attack on working people
What’s happening to our state governments?
Wisconsin is curtailing collective bargaining rights for state workers.
Ohio has substantially reduced the power of unionized state workers.
Florida’s governor is requiring new state workers to be drug tested by a
company in which his wife owns controlling shares. Maine has removed a
mural depicting working class people from the state’s Department of Labor
and is trying to increase hours for child labor. New Jersey cut $1
billion to schools.
Under Governor Snyder, Michigan became the first state to curtail aid
to the unemployed. Now we have an amended Emergency Financial Manager
bill allowing public employee contracts to be broken. His proposed
budget includes steep cuts to higher education and new taxation of
pensions and IRA deductions. He’s demanding “shared sacrifice” and
touting “public-private partnerships.”
This pattern of right-wing anti-unionism, austere budgets demanding
public ‘sacrifice’ while supporting big business, is taken directly
from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a ‘public-private
partnership.’ For membership, corporations like Exxon and Mobil pay $6
million annually while state legislators pay only $50. The companies
and legislators write model bills together. Cozy.
Please don’t take my word for it. Google American Association for
Justice: ALEC. You‘ll be shocked.

Sam Eliowitz • Maple City

Out of bounds
After reading the best of Northern Michigan issue of the Express today I
was disappointed to see that the best band went to My Dear Disco.
Although the band is well liked and deservedly so, the last time I
checked, Ann Arbor (where the band is from) is in southern Michigan. If
you are expanding this poll to groups that simply tour in Northern
Michigan, then why not include Willie Nelson or Bob Dylan who have both
played in the area?
It just seems that there is plenty of hard working talent right here in
Northern Michigan that you could spotlight without having to search
elsewhere.

Adam Sleder • via email

(Good point Adam. We fudged the rules for three reasons: My Dear
Disco bass player Joe Dart is from Harbor Springs and the band plays
the region as often as many local bands. Normally, those reasons
wouldn‘t be enough to matter; what tipped the tide was the overwhelming
number of reader votes. We agree, however, that it would be best to
require solid Northern Michigan credentials in next year‘s issue. -
ed.)

Share the pain
It is interesting to see that when “shared sacrifice” is discussed, our
federal and state elected officials escape the “sacrifice.”
The cost of our inefficient state legislature is over $100 million a
year. Each legislator makes a salary of $79,650, has a $1,000 monthly
stipend for expenses, a reimbursement for mileage and a stipend for
staff. This comes to over $100,000 a year.
A unicameral legislature, by eliminating our state senate, could save
the taxpayers $50 million a year. Will this happen? Wishful thinking.
I suggest a 20% pay cut for each legislator and halving the stipend
for expenses, staff and health care benefits. This is something that
can happen now.
Contact your legislators and demand their sacrifice NOW. If they don’t
sacrifice, let’s vote them out the next election. Time for reform is
long overdue.

Wally Juall • Kewadin

Don‘t call him Patty
This year I noticed local newspapers using a ‘nickname‘ for St.
Patrick, the beloved Irish saint. Then I saw at least two of your
advertisers had committed the same error.
The saint is not “Patty“ as in peppermint, or hamburger patty, or even
the shortened girl‘s name of Patricia.
I believe they need to say Paddy, a variation of Padraic or Patrick.
If St. Patrick is to be honored by his own day and many celebrations,
please don‘t call him Patty!

Lela Russell • Kalkaska

On the trail of lone wolves
Good article on the “Indians in Winter“ -- excellent research (3/14/11).
As far as your other article on the cougar and the wolf, the wolves
simply stalk the deer trails from the U.P. across the Straits of
Mackinac.
I‘ve walked both shores in the dead of winter and deer tracks are
abundant. You can also see them out and back to Bois Blanc Island.
The large tracks that look like dog tracks are your wolf. You see many
solo tracks as these are “lone wolves.“
As for cougars in northern lower Michigan, my opinion only, but they
are here. Maybe they are rogue males, which in time die off, but the
National Lakeshore employee who saw one years ago was correct.

John Colvin • TC
Seniors hit hard by Snyder
In the last couple of months it has become clear what Governor Snyder’s
plan is to “fix” our state. His plan is not to reduce the budget but
transfer monies from the poor and the middle class to corporations by
taxing retirees’s pensions, eliminating the $2,300 over-age 65
exemption, taxing dividends and interest, cutting the $600 child
exemption and cutting many social programs including funds to public
schools.
Giving more tax breaks to corporations does not necessarily mean more
jobs. The majority of large corporations do not pay taxes because of
many loopholes enacted over the last several decades. The Reagan
“trickle down” tax cuts to the rich did not work; now his answer is to
try “creep-up” economics which is take from the poor and middle class
and give to the corporations.
Employee unions, public and private, are not the cause of our fiscal
problems.
There is little talk about the unjust wars paid for by borrowing money,
or the tax cuts to the rich and the corruption of the Wall Street
bankers, who instead of going to jail are receiving record bonuses.
Fixed-income retirees are being squeezed by increasing gas and food
prices. Coupled with frozen Social Security payments, many retirees are
struggling.
Pensions often do not have a cost of living clause, and even
tax-deferred 401k plans are not providing the retirement income many
recent retirees anticipated. Retirees, generally low to middle income
class folks, now pay almost twice as much in total taxes as a
percentage of their income than the top income level in Michigan.
To be more fair, Gov. Snyder, might consider a graduated income tax,
exempting low income folks from being taxed on their pension income.
Some states do not have a state income tax, and the many that do have a
graduated state income tax. Michigan is one of the few states that has
a regressive fixed-income tax.
Let’s not solve our budget problems on the backs of the poor and middle
class. Let’s keep our retirees in Michigan.

Bill Hoff • Suttons Bay

 
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