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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Dec. 8, 2001
Budget fix: Drop a cop
Your Editors Column on Nov. 28 was nothing if not self serving. So you drove your car on the edge of legality and got away with it. Further, your questionable driving was endorsed by the acting chief. So what!
The fact remains that the Oak Harbor Police Dept. is over staffed with rude and incompetent personnel. While they may be great at filling the city coffers with traffic fines, to my knowledge they have never solved a major crime. In the last decade I am aware of two murders with no arrests.
If the city is struggling with a budget shortfall, my suggestion is DROP A COP.
Business tax breaks help all
I am writing this letter in response to a few letters I have read from folks against what has been referred to as tax breaks for the wealthy. I question the personal motivation behind those letters. Are those letters rooted in promoting class warfare or from a more shallow reason such as greed or partisan politics?
Few will argue with the fact that tax breaks stimulate the economy. You do not speed up a runner by having him carry more weight. When companies can increase capital, that usually translates to further investment within the company and consequently growth within the community. The question that rises, is which tax breaks do the most good; personal tax breaks or business tax breaks?
I would argue that business tax breaks do the most good because of their long lasting impact on the economy. When the recent tax break checks arrived in the mail, who can honestly say that their refund check directly led to a new employee being hired or the expansion of a local area business? There is no doubt in my mind that collectively, these individual tax break checks helped the local economy. However, it was a one time shot spread out over so broad an area, that by now most of the benefits have probably already passed.
If tax breaks were offered to businesses, would the impact be short-lived or long lasting? Let me use a hypothetical example. What if the City of Oak Harbor were to offer a reasonably sized tax break to a fictitious local area software company (that was considering relocating) in an effort to keep the business in the city? With a business tax break, the community ultimately benefits by the collected revenues related to a workforce living and spending locally and hopefully eventually expanding its workforce. With the equivalent amount of revenue spread out over the city or county via individual refund checks, what tangible benefit would the local economy realize? Most likely none! Although my example does not qualify as a big business tax break, it illustrates the point that helping businesses ultimately provides the community with long lasting results.
Those that argue that tax breaks for the wealthy are unjust are truly uninformed. A point that is often overlooked is that the wealthy pay the vast majority of the taxes. The top 2 percent of wealthy Americans pay over 50 percent of the taxes. When we argue for tax breaks to stimulate the economy, why are rich Americans often targeted to be left out? Is it possibly a form of class warfare or class envy? Are the wealthy Americans any less American than middle class Americans? Perhaps some folks believe that wealthy Americans simply take their tax breaks to the bank and do not reinvest any of the money. I believe that wealthy Americans usually get that way through reinvesting their profits. Those that reinvest should be credited with much of the growth in this country. Between 1929 and 2000, 67 percent of Americas growth has been attributed to the benefits reaped from reinvestments (Edward Dennison, estimated sources of growth).
Big business tax breaks help us. To argue otherwise is rooted in either ignorance, the desire to promote class warfare, personal greed, or quite simply partisan politics. Let us rise above this shallow narrow-minded viewpoint and allow tax breaks to be spread out over all Americans, especially the big businesses.
Hard truth about poison
I attended the Nov. 21 staff meeting between the Commissioners and their department heads, a meeting focusing on the issue of roadside spraying.
I was encouraged by the words from the Director of Public Works. He had done the homework and told the board that the cost of conversion to a no-spray county policy was an increase of $95,000 per year with a $260,000 up-front cost for equipment. This is significantly lower than earlier estimates, and the cost increase per year is a paltry 2 to 4 percent of the yearly paving budget. Pave the roads on a six year rather than five year schedule and you free up all kinds of funds, funds that must be kept within the road department, but which are available for the kind of change being sought by the No Spray group. The Board seemed genuinely interested in ways to implement the conversion, a policy that has already been adopted by five counties in the region.
Unfortunately, we have public officials and old school alumnae claiming that herbicides are benign and cost-effective. Like nuclear energy. Like DDT. At an earlier time, flat world exponents undoubtedly saw cost-effectiveness in terms of navigation. Science encompasses an infinitely broad spectrum of information, with enough firepower for all points of view.
But at some point we do a risk analysis. The county Risk Analyst says that grass on the shoulder poses a liability risk for the county should a car lose traction on the shoulder, in spite of the fact that no one can seem to come up with a case to illustrate that risk, and in spite of the fact that those surrounding counties mentioned earlier seem not to have encountered that legal quagmire. But the risk posed to individuals through the use of herbicides is amply documented, starting with the labels on the chemicals and the state training required to apply it. There is a shared belief among all that the stuff is dangerous at some level for all humans.
Is it too great a leap to accept that we have varying degrees of tolerance?
Is the absolute safety of a shoulder-driving public so incredibly important that this risk be accepted?
The Board is now deliberating the options. The arguments have once again been voiced, the camp followers have rallied. A decision has been promised early in the new year.
Is this just a skirmish of the organic crowd versus good old Americana, or are we all looking to reduce risk to ourselves, the children, mothers and fathers-to-be among us, and to the rest of life? Do we pretend that pouring toxics over our shared space, our delicate, irreplaceable water supply, will not eventually create a soup of poisons?
Here are some hard truths: The world is round, the rebounding of eagles and falcons coincided with the banning of DDT, and radiation surely kills. How does cost-effective fit in there?
Dinner at Elks Lodge was great
Many thanks to everyone involved in putting on the great Thanksgiving dinner at the Elks in November.
Jerry Hanson and Elizabeth Ramsey
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