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Byline: The Register-Guard

Income tax is a poor choice

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 was an incentive to keep us from exploiting the last of the timber in old-growth forests. When those funds dried up, Lane County leaders chose an income tax to make up for the shortfall.

Various letters have suggested that we should just go ahead and cut down the trees, or we should work hard to get the feds to pay us that money. Both solutions seem frivolous.

The county wants to guarantee a basic level of services to which we have become accustomed by raising tax revenue. There are many ways to increase Lane County government funds. Luxury taxes such as on the sale of cars and boats costing more than $50,000 would not affect the poor.

If we wish for the poor to share in the increased costs, we could tax tobacco, alcohol and gambling. These kinds of taxes have the benefit of being collected from businesses. Another method of increasing county income is to add to the current property tax.

Instead, county leaders have chosen a tax system that adds a whole new layer of bureaucracy, including paperwork that is required of every resident with income. There will need to be accountability and enforcement at the level of every resident, instead of at the level of businesses.

Much less onerous, adding to the property tax adds no new bureaucracy or enforcement issues at all. It seems much wiser and cheaper to tax ourselves using other methods than an income tax.



Oregon has high tax burden

Several letters have been printed recently claiming that the tax burden on Oregon residents, and especially Lane County residents, is either 48th or dead last. I couldn't figure out where this came from and did a little research but couldn't find anything remotely to support those claims.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, however, Oregon ranks 13th for tax burden and third for tax burden on the working poor, being ahead of such notorious tax hells as Massachusetts on both counts. If Lane County's new income tax is allowed to stand, we would have the heaviest tax burden in the entire United States, ahead of even New York, Washington, D.C., and Maine.

Moreover, in terms of dollars paid in taxes per $1,000 of income, Oregon ranks in the top 20 states and Lane County residents in the top 10. All of this points up the fact that if you torture statistics long enough, you can make them admit to anything.



Oil still drives U.S. goals in Iraq

The Register-Guard's March 5 editorial, "Iraq needs a deadline," was most appropriate and is what many in Congress are saying. The big and only effective step that must be taken is to stop funding the war and occupation by passing House Resolution 508 and Sen. Russ Feingold's Senate Bill 448.

Lurking behind this simple act, however, is the pending oil law in the Iraqi parliament, which is supposed to restore Iraq's oil production. The U.S. consulting firm Bearing Point was contracted by the Bush administration to help the Iraq Oil Ministry, according to Ken Anderson's magazine and his Humanist magazine article.

Middle Eastern countries don't permit foreign companies to have a direct interest in oil production, but this Iraqi law would grant production sharing agreements for up to 75 percent of the profits to start, and would extend the agreements for as long as 30 years.

Perhaps this is the most plausible explanation for why the administration is building 14 permanent military bases throughout Iraq. That's an even more urgent reason for Congress to turn off the money spigot as an important first step in the road back to international lawfulness, respect for human lives and fiscal responsibility.



Springfield too dark at night

I have lived in Springfield for 35 years. I know the reason why I never go to downtown Springfield in the evening.

Most of the stores have used energy-saving lights, which is a good thing except the lights shine down, not out. It causes the stores to look closed at night.

Then you look at the sidewalks and parking during the winter and it is very dark. Most of the awnings have lights that don't work. I know the city has put in new sidewalks and lights, but it is not enough.

The outside stores need to be well lit so you feel safe when going from your car to a store. I don't see the cost as being too expensive but something all the store owners or the city would have to do to make it work. All you have to do is drive by in the evening and you'll know what I am talking about.



Flawed logic for staying in Iraq

Being a veteran of World War II, I find it difficult to understand how we can send troops to a country to defeat their military forces and bring down their dictator and, when they have successfully done that, they can't come home until they have taught the soldiers they defeated how to fight.



Consider a cable-stayed bridge

During the late 1970s, I was a field engineer on the Pasco-Kennewick cable-stayed bridge in eastern Washington and then a design engineer for a cable-stayed bridge in Huntington, W.Va.

Both projects were some of the earliest cable-stayed bridges in this country. After they were built, the people who lived in the areas enjoyed the artistic and functional designs. People came to see the bridges from outside the area.

A cable-stayed bridge over the Willamette River would make a wonderful artistic statement for our area. It would be one of the most unique structures on Interstate 5 from Seattle to San Diego. We would also have a signature bridge that would be a good citizen of our community, as a colleague of mine said many years ago about a bridge.

Around the world cable-stayed bridges have been built in spectacular settings. It would be great to have a structure like that built here.



Vacant property fee a bad idea

Eugene City Councilor Betty Taylor put forth a proposal to consider charging a fee to owners of vacant property. It is not her business as to whether a property owner has a vacancy or not.

Many tenants don't want to be downtown due to scarce onsite parking, restrictive building codes, lack of ingress and egress and low traffic counts. Many downtown property owners are forced to pay fees for additional security that the city of Eugene is unable to provide.

It has been a long road for downtown development since the city of Eugene endorsed the 1968 urban renewal program. The downtown core has not recovered after 39 years, and a vacancy fee is not a good idea! Why promote an idea that would put an extra burden on property owners in addition to their annual property taxes and required licenses, fees and permits?

Perhaps Taylor would support a fee on City Council members who waste other council members' time with a lame idea that can't get a second vote to be considered.



Coulter outs conservatives

Recently at the Conservative Political Action Conference, their queen, Ann Coulter, called Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards a "faggot" in her speech, which got loud applause and laughter from her minions. As a gay American, I say, ``Thank you, Ann, for placing a magnifying glass over the heart of conservative Christians.''

I have known all along that these folks are the reason the American people are so divided. Conservatives have given us a nation where we hate our neighbors while we love ourselves.

People such as Ann Coulter may attend church every Sunday, but when you look closely you will see that God has left the building.



New H-bomb plan provocative

The Energy Department has just awarded a contract to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to continue design work on a new hydrogen bomb (Register-Guard, March 3). This would be the first new nuclear warhead the United States has built in more than 20 years.

If you think this is a dangerous and provocative thing to do in a time of war, let Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sens. Ron Wyden and Gordon Smith know. The Associated Press story I read said that Congress has given "cautious support" to the program.



Neglect of veterans is shocking

The failure of our military and civilian leaders to properly care for our wounded veterans is shocking and despicable. If the American people had to pay now what they owe for the care of America's veterans, this war would have been over a long time ago.

If you can't afford to take care of the veterans, you can't afford the war.



Iran, Syria and synagogues

Looking at The Register-Guard's front page on Feb. 28 was like entering a time warp: "U.S. agrees to join talks on Iraq with Iran, Syria."

Iran and Syria! One has a lunatic leader who denies the holocaust and says he'll wipe Israel off the map; the other has a tyrannical dictator who undermines stability and democracy in Lebanon while continually passing along Iranian arms to Hezbollah to ultimately be used against Israel.

Then, as I glance down the page, I see a distraught synagogue president looking at the ruins of his synagogue right here in Eugene. Kind of makes you think you're living in the Europe of the late 1930s.


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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 14, 2007
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