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Letters 3/21/11

- March 21st, 2011
Fair to seniors?
Are “seniors” being treated fairly?
There appears to be a huge outcry from many seniors about Governor
Snyder’s proposal to drop the exclusion of pensions from taxable income.
Some pensioners are even threatening to pack up and move to another state
if this exemption is eliminated.
Perhaps these folks should consider the huge inequity of exempting
pensions from state income taxes. For example:
“A senior couple with a household income of $59,000, made up mainly of
pension income and Social Security, has no state tax liability and
actually receives a check for several hundred dollars back from the state.
Whereas a working couple with children whose household income is $10,000
less has to pay over $1,000 in Michigan income tax.” – The Center for
Also, many who are opposed to taxing pension income assume that this is
an unfair tax targeted at “all” seniors. But what about us seniors -- and
there are many of us -- that have no defined pension but rely on our 401k
and savings along with Social Security, and pay state income tax just like
the working couple in the example above?
Don’t assume that all “seniors” in Michigan worked in the public sector or
in a UAW plant that had a defined pension plan. There are in fact many
pensioners (mainly from the public sector) whose pension income actually
exceeds the income they earned while working due to the fact that they no
longer have to pay state income taxes.
Many of us seniors have, and continue to pay our fair share in Michigan
taxes with nary a complaint. In my opinion, if having to pay your fair
share of state income tax is enough to cause you to sell your home and
move to another state, then don’t let the door hit you in the backside on
the way out!

Gordon LaPointe • Williamsburg

A bad plan
Re: “The phony budget crisis” by Ted Rall, 3/14)
The only way that government can make all Americans more financially equal
is by making everyone worse off. That’s exactly what would happen should
we pursue Mr. Rall’s prescription. It is an outcome with which I suspect
Mr. Rall would be pleased.
Take from the rich to give to the poor is one thing (one that most of the
rich already do without having to filter it through the taxman), but
taking from the rich to give to... me, well that’s quite a different
thing. The latter is what most redistributionists desire. It won’t work.

John M. Casteel • TC

Make Wall Street pay
In many states the new Republican governors are giving huge tax breaks to
corporations to attract new business activity. But, if all the states are
taking this same action to draw new business, I can’t see how this is
going to make any one state more attractive, or how this will generate
more demand for whatever these businesses produce.
In fact, all of these governors are taking money out of the economy, as
with Gov. Snyder’s proposal to tax the pension benefits of retirees, which
will produce a negative effect on consumer demand.
The real reason behind the trouble is the devastation inflicted upon
pension funds by the crash of 2008, coupled with the constantly
skyrocketing cost of healthcare. The governors want public employees and
retirees to make up for the deficits created while never suggesting that
those responsible for the crash, or the companies behind the rising cost
of healthcare, sacrifice anything as a contribution to a solution.
The solution I propose focuses on the $600 trillion annual derivative
market being run with little regulation or transparency on Wall Street. If
we would tax these transactions at a rate of 1/600 or .16%, it would
produce $1 trillion a year and solve all of our problems in all of our
For our politicians to completely ignore the people who nearly destroyed
our economy, and went right on reaping outrageous bonuses, is obscene in
itself. If the government isn’t going to throw them in jail, at least
take a small fraction of their money away, not ours.

Bob Wallick • Cross Village

Gillman: embarrassment
In nearly 10 years as an elected official and many more following local
boards and commissions, I’ve never heard remarks by a sitting elected
official as outrageous, repugnant, and inappropriate as G.T County
Commissioner Jason Gillman’s -- while, unbelievably, on official county
business. His ignorance, intolerance and flat-out false statements linking
homosexuality and pedophilia, is eclipsed only by his lack of common sense
and respect for area residents and his fellow commissioners -- who must
now overcome his ignorant misstep.
Gillman’s recent public pity pleadings re: media coverage and public
outcry damaging his reputation as an elected official are but weak
attempts at deflection. Truth is, damage to his reputation is the result
of his own words and actions. As to his personal views on homosexuality
arising out of an “unfortunate youthful experience,” he should be smart
enough to know there are better ways to release repressed anger than to
unfairly lash out at the innocent.
Commissioner Gillman has the right to his opinions, but no right to use
his commission seat as a podium from which to spew bigoted fanaticism. He
owes a three-fold apology: (1) To the area gay community for his untrue
and hurtful remarks; (2) To the community at large for creating another
negative cloud in an already murky political sky, and (3) To his fellow
commissioners who have to wipe up his mess.
I commend County Commissioner Ross Richardson for publicly voicing his
opposition to Gillman’s words and actions, and ask his fellow
commissioners to display like courage in publicly stating their stand.
Two strikes on Gillman who deserves to be at least censured for his
inappropriate words and actions. Hopefully, he’ll get the message -- that
this community doesn’t need, and won’t put up with bigoted, loose-cannon
elected officials.

Harry Dorman • TC

Shades of Charlie Sheen
It’s amazing how some of the privileged few can get away with their
self-destructive lifestyles and yet they expect us to continue to respect
them. How is it that a guy can spend most of his adult life drinking,
doing drugs, carousing and getting away with all sorts of shenanigans,
then suddenly, in his mid 40s he claims to have cured himself? He claims
to have beat the odds without treatment, without going to prison, without
his famous father kicking him out, and without suffering any significant
consequence. He just cured himself. Can you believe that?
I guess some people are just gullible. Actually a whole lot are very
gullible, because those Americans elected him president twice.
Still amazed.

David Petrove • Interlochen

Blaming scapegoats
Humankind is known to blame scapegoats for bad times. Minorities are prime
targets for displaced anger and frustration. Germany did it to the Jews,
Gypsies, etc., in WWII. Now it is homosexuals, Hispanics and Muslims.
But why be angry at homosexuals just because they privately do something
many of us perhaps don’t? It is not our business! Hispanics want to earn
a fair day’s wage and support their families, just like the rest of us.
For the most part they are extremely honest.
Sure, there are bad eggs in every group of people including white middle
class Christians, but blaming all Muslims for terrorism? The present
inflation of Islamaphobia has gone too far! To suspect all of a
respectful, peace loving religion, comprised of people who want to be
allowed to love and serve America shows our narrowness of thought and
disrespect for others. Shame!

Emmy Lou Cholak • Chair of Grand Traverse Inter-Faith Council

Migrants & medical aid
Bob Jones carries on at length about how illegal aliens are a “scourge”
and avers that “many of them register for welfare and free medical
care.” (Letters 3/14)
Maybe somewhere else, but in Michigan, not so. As outlined in the
Department of Human Services’ Bridges Eligibility Manual (item 225), to be
eligible for cash assistance or medical assistance, one must be a citizen
or an alien with some proper status.
There’s an exception for emergency medical aid. Perhaps if one of Mr.
Jones’s landscaping crew members had cut himself badly on the job, Mr.
Jones would have blocked the door to the ER and told the unfortunate
worker that he’d have to bleed to death because he was illegal. I suspect
that most of us would disagree.
And it’s a bit odd that Mr. Jones asks, “where is our allegiance to our
country and our own unemployed?” when he was the foreman supervising a
whole crew of the people he’s complaining about. That illustrates our
schizophrenic approach to immigration. We love the cheap labor and we’re
happy when it gives us personal economic advantage, but we’re offended by
the other costs of it.

Chris Campbell • TC

Robbing Peter to pay Paul
In response to the recent letter sent by Mike Estes of TC (3/14), I cannot
help but wonder what type of businessman Governor Snyder is and was.
In reviewing his budget policy it is well known that you cannot rob Peter
to pay Paul which is what he is doing by taking from the elderly and poor
of this state, taxing $1.7 billion, to give tax breaks to business, $1.8
billion. That is not making the hard decisions, but looking for the easy
way to appease your handlers and cronies.
It is also not surprising to me as a Vietnam veteran, ex-Marine, to see
this fool bash our Constitution and the principles for which it stands to
appoint lackeys to run cities and school districts he deems in trouble and
rid those local elected officials that we have placed in office.
The arrogance of this nerd must be stopped. What he is doing at the very
least is anti-American and criminal. If the Supreme Court of this state
will not knock him down then we must impeach him and all that follow in
his footsteps. They are not above the law and we are the people they must
answer to. We control policy and must not allow a dictator to run this
state for his personal gain.
God bless all those that have gone to Lansing to voice their discontent
with this bizarre attack on our rights and sovereignty.

James C. Williams • Kalkaska

The Indians in Winter
Thank you for writing the “Indians in Winter” piece (3/14). As a fellow
subject enthusiast, I would recommend the excellent book “Rites of
Conquest” by Charles Cleland, which covers the story of the original
Michigan and Great Lakes peoples, their spiritual views, their social
system, and their encounters with Europeans and Americans.
Dr. Cleland is the pre-eminent expert on aboriginal pre-history of the
Great Lakes. He still speaks and writes, having retired from MSU, where I
was one of his students. If you get the book, open to page 89 and read how
the Hurons perceived the Jesuits. It’s a great example of how we see
through colored lenses.
Bill Arnold • TC

Justice for some...
Re: “Controversial Cases” in your March 7 issue. I’ve known about Thom
Corso’s plight for a long time. Every time I think it can’t get worse, it
Prosecutor Schneider’s comment defending his office and Mr. Corso’s
ultimate sentence (while comparing his case to that of police officer Kip
Needham) is ridiculous: “I don’t think it’s so much that Needham got a
better deal but that Mr. Corso got a worse deal than everybody else.”
Oh, really? Is that “oh, well” attitude somehow supposed to make Mr. Corso
feel better – now that he has a criminal record and has moved out of
state, away from his daughters? He got screwed by the justice system not
once, not twice, not three times, but over and over and over again. What
do you have to do to get a fair shake around here, join the police force?

James Lee • TC

(Look for a followup on that story in next week’s Express. - ed.)

Beware U.S. in Libya
If the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq were not tragic enough, now there
are voices calling for the U.S. to intervene in Libya. Before we embark
on another noble crusade further into the Arab world, it is helpful to
consider what our actions since October 2001 have brought.
It is conservatively estimated that since the U.S. invasions into
Afghanistan and Iraq 919,967 have been killed and 1,739,547 wounded.
These figures include warring parties and civilians.
It is time to look to the Arab community to provide stability as Libyans
grapple for a freer society. Rather than deploy U.S. troops and aircraft
to untie yet another Gordian Knot, it’s long overdue that Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait, Qatar, U.A.E., etc. step up. They are well-armed Muslim neighbors
that have a deep interest in regional peace.
Shakespeare did not envision a tragedy on this scale, but his characters
echo even today. Let us imagine that playing Brutus is the U.S.; playing
a slain Caesar is Iraq; playing Antony is the missing voice of reason.
Follow with me:
Brutus: “Because Caesar was my dear friend, I weep for him; ...because he
was valiant, I honor him; but -- because he was ambitious, I killed him...
for the good of Rome. There are tears for his friendship; joy for his
fortune; honor for his valor; and death for his ambition.”
Roman Citizen: “I am afraid someone worse will come in his place.”
Antony: “O, now you weep, and I can tell that you feel the beginnings of
Now let it work. Mischief, you are loose, take whatever path you want.”
Today at the Ides of March, it is notable how little has changed since 44

Dave Lannen • TC

In a recent article in which Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Alan
Schneider was interviewed about the misdemeanor plea bargain for Grand
Traverse County Deputy Charles Needham, it was stated that the deputy’s
intoxication level of .09 was below the legal limit. It was not. The level
for intoxication in Michigan is .08. Needham was legally drunk and in
possession of a firearm, a felony.

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