Taxes as a tool to fix economy
Re "Gov.'s staff exploring new taxes," May 2
The only proven solution to California's budget deficit is a sustained economic recovery. A sales tax on services would impede that recovery.
Increasing the price of services in California by 8% would cause consumers to use less of those services. Many California businesses would face an immediate 8% competitive disadvantage to companies in other states.
A services tax discriminates against small businesses. Although national companies would use their in-house legal and accounting services or those in other states, small businesses would be stuck with higher prices they couldn't afford.
Businesses and individuals who share in the ever-rising cost of healthcare would be further priced out of the market. Entertainment and tourism would suffer dramatically.
There is a reason that other large states have repealed their service taxes. These taxes simply do not work, and our economy cannot afford them.
The writer is chief executive of the California Chamber of Commerce.
All options to fix our budget deficit should be considered; one of those options should be raising taxes, if only temporarily. It's only fair to spread the pain out a little.
If we're willing to send pink slips to teachers and cut benefits for poor people, shouldn't those of us who are more fortunate do our part? I haven't done the math, but I'd bet that a relatively small tax increase (for everyone, including businesses) would allow us to avoid some of the draconian budget cuts. Many of us seem to have bought into the concept that we can get something for nothing.
Making an across-the-board cut is cowardly and stupid. That's what Ronald Reagan did when he was elected governor, and it makes no more sense today than it did then. Republicans who don't support a tax increase should identify specifically which programs should be eliminated. Let's see if they get reelected.
Re "Taxing buyers' patience," May 3
Wasn't it only five years ago that California Republicans attacked then-Gov. Gray Davis for, in the words of the recall petition, "gross mismanagement of California finances by overspending taxpayers' money, threatening public safety by cutting funds to local governments, failing to account for the exorbitant cost of the energy, and failing in general to deal with the state's major problems until they get to the crisis stage"?
I have two questions: Should the current governor be recalled? And who should replace him?
Freedom to speak
Re "For whom does Old Glory wave?," May 2
Reading about the controversy in Montrose saddened me because the two groups -- the war protesters and those who support the veterans' memorial -- appear to be talking past each other. This, unfortunately, is a microcosm of what is transpiring in our country with regard to the Iraq war.
What mostly saddened me, however, was to read about a high school junior with plans to enlist who spit at the protesters, saying that only veterans have a right to "say anything."
Someone should explain to this young man -- soon -- that he will be enlisting to fight to protect and defend a constitutional democracy, where everyone has a right to "say anything."
If he does not understand this, he should not enlist because he will be fighting not for our country but for a nightmare of a country that he wants to create.
Ethanol won't solve fuel woes
Re "Bush defends ethanol emphasis," May 3
Perhaps President Bush should be better informed about the human and energy costs of corn ethanol before he touts it to reduce U.S. dependence on oil.
First, 25 gallons of corn ethanol requires an amount of grain to feed a person for a year. Second, according to a report for the National Academy of Sciences, corn ethanol provides only 25% more energy than the fossil fuel energy required to grow and process it into fuel. If replacing gasoline is the goal, research on nonfood crops for ethanol production and less energy-hungry processing methods should be supported.
To truly manage the energy and global warming problems we face, the federal government should take a hard look at policies that would support renewable energy development of all types, particularly a carbon cap or tax associated with a firm commitment to quickly end fossil fuel use.
Governor hasn't endorsed route
Re "A powerful champion of a power line," April 27
This article is in our view misleading. I'm writing this letter because our request for a correction was denied.
In this article's headline and first sentence, The Times reported that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is "pushing" state regulators to approve a plan to build an energy transmission line "through" Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
However, nowhere in the lengthy article did the reporter provide anything beyond weak, connect-the-dot, circumstantial evidence to support those claims. I speak for the administration when I say that these assertions do not add up when presented with the facts.
What is true is that San Diego Gas & Electric wants to build a transmission line to connect renewable energy to the energy grid. And it's also true that Schwarzenegger in December wrote a letter in support of constructing a transmission line to bring the renewable energy to consumers.
But there are several proposed routes for that transmission line, one of which goes through the state park. Neither the governor nor anyone in his office has expressed a preference for any specific route. The governor has not endorsed a route, has not lobbied a single commissioner and in fact would prefer a route that does not go through the park if that proves to be the best option.
That's not the story readers of The Times got. Instead, they got inferences and a misleading conclusion.
Office of Gov. Arnold
Wright's message and Obama
Re "Jeremiah's jeremiad," Opinion, May 1
Rosa Brooks misses the greater point of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.'s attacks. Wright is not simply bitter about slavery and Jim Crow and the Tuskegee experiment. His sermons' message is that man should put his faith in God, not governments. "Governments fail," Wright points out. God does not. God is above governments, and faith in God is rewarded by God, not by governments.
To a congregation that must wonder why the same God that has favored white America has allowed so much harm to blacks, Native Americans and Asians, Wright reminds them that governments are the work of man and not God. Governments can do wrong as easily as right, and their victims are not being penalized by God but by the earthly failure of man. Governments and policy, of course, can change, but God is eternal. Therein lies the message -- the audacity -- of hope.
Sen. Barack Obama cannot easily write off Wright, just as he can never disown his white grandmother. Nor can Obama distance himself from the black majority who gave Wright a standing ovation at his recent appearance at the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. As Brooks points out, Obama cannot simply write off the "nearly 27%" (per Rand Corp.'s 2005 survey) of African Americans who agreed that "AIDS was produced in a government laboratory."
Much as he wished that his 20-plus years of a Wright connection would be considered a mere temporary distraction, Obama has to face it and own it, seeking reconciliation; otherwise, his larger-than-life vision of uniting the nation will be yet another pipe dream.
Changing a mind
Re "Focus remains on Rev. Wright," May 1
Until the day of California's primary election in February, my support went to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. I changed my vote to Sen. Barack Obama, mainly because I didn't like the direction Clinton's campaign was headed or how she was presenting herself.
Knowing that she appeared on "The O'Reilly Factor" and what she said in that interview, two thoughts come to mind. First, why would she ever validate Bill O'Reilly by appearing on his show? Second, it's interesting that she would never have remained in a church with such divisive sermons as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright's, but she has remained in a marriage to a man who has cheated on her.
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