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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

In an otherwise fine article, Marc Cooper leaves the impression that the higher income group is overtaxed. It is not. One real test is the total percentage of income paid in combined state and local taxes. California is regressive, in that the highest quintile pays a lower percentage, just like in virtually every other state.

Also, he could have mentioned the total lack of the "user pays" principle in any tax discussions. One example: rather than raise gasoline taxes, general taxes are being used for bonding authority to expand highways. Meanwhile, assistance to transit is being eliminated.

The example of transportation spending hypocrisy brings up yet another issue Cooper could have discussed more: aggravated by an irresponsible tax structure, California is moving in an unsustainable direction despite all of the national press coverage implying that it is an environmental leader.

Eric C. Bruun

Philadelphia, PA

Aug 4 2009 - 12:05pm

Web Letter

Few are better than Marc Cooper when describing a fast game or Sacramento politics. But this story seems to miss the whole game. The undisputed truth is that government unions, essentially the SEIU and CTA, spend millions and millions of dollars each year to control Democratic primaries. Some 80 percent of the major-party office holders are essentially controlled by these unions.

The Dems have controlled the legislature since 1958, with two short exceptions in the Assembly. So what would the ultimate special interests do with all that power? How about expanding state spending 40 percent in the last six years, with 80 percent going to salaries... i.e., union dues? The prison guards got a billion-dollar increase in 2002 alone.

Eventually the host will die. The parasite cannot control its hunger.

The real issue is the endless state growth without measurable services. Plus fewer producers left to pay.

Writing apologia for ruthless "takers" is beneath Cooper's many abilities. Perhaps in Cooper's follow-up piece he will offer a broader context.

PS. There is no" drought"--it's man-made.

Shawn Steel

Palos Verdes, CA

Aug 2 2009 - 3:45pm

Web Letter

I'm no expert, but I don't understand why people complain about the poor quality of education in California. We are one of the most tech-savvy populations in the nation. Yet the teachers union has fought against allowing online education.

In one state that allows it (Pennsylvania), they've found that "efficiencies"--specifically, the ratio of student to teachers--have been improved dramatically. And students in these programs score higher on SATs.

Online education is just one cost-cutting measure that would improve quality of education, while reducing cost. But we hear nothing of it.

Think about it.

Fran Calvert

San Diego, CA

Jul 31 2009 - 2:00pm

Web Letter

The article notes, correctly, that much of this collapse is due to over-reliance on taxing the very wealthy. Thus super-elasticity of falling upper incomes becomes a general disaster! Yet, in spite of this painful object lesson, some exquisitely clueless people have been proposing to impose this identical death-trap upon the funding of national healthcare.

Think about it.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Jul 31 2009 - 10:17am

Web Letter

This is without question the best account I have read so far on our state's meltdown. I have been consuming as much news as I can on this for the past several months, but this article pulls it all together in clear form. It also convinces me that we do need a constitutional convention in California, because our state government is completely broken.

I would love to see more pieces like this that rely on real-life reporting and fact-gathering rather than what is too frequently a rehashed "progressive" pie-in-the-sky formula of the sort always proferred by John Nichols and others. In the case of California, it's not the Blue Dogs but actually the liberal Democrats who have helped get us into this hole along with the Governator. This article provides no easy "progressive" answer, and neither does reality.

Jean Firth

Malibu, Ca

Jul 30 2009 - 4:12pm

Web Letter

This article pretty well describes our non-functional government in California. The biggest problem is the two-thirds rule to pass a budget in the legislature. As this article notes, a minority can stop a budget in its tracks.

While dysfunctional, I think the initiative process is the quickest way to go to get rid of that requirement. Combine that "reform" with reducing the term of all elected officials, including the governor, to two years, and it might pass. Judges can be appointed!

I would liked to see a similar "reform" at the federal level with the Senate, with half of them being elected every two years for a four-year term.

I think the president should have only one term for four years.

We need to keep these people on a short leash!

There are two basic rules in taxation! Keep taxes low on personal vehicles and single-family homes that are a primary residence.

Keep things simple!

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Jul 30 2009 - 12:24pm

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